Author Archives: Amer Al Sabaileh

How to counter Sectarianism

Sectarianism seems to be one of the most risky issues that Arab societies should face in the coming future.  Having a fragmented society based on ethnical and religious criteria is seen as a recipe of chaos. However, the major question today is: How to escape the nightmare of sectarianism?

There are no immediate solutions for the sectarian thinking, yet decision makers should believe that this is a very long and complicated process that needs a serious and concrete prompt initiative.  This should begin by believing that today any glimpse of change is really needed in society. Nevertheless, any initiative should also begin by recognizing the problems within the society and getting out of any state of denial. Signs of sectarianism are apparent in many countries in the Arab region; it roots a sense of psychological divisions that usually anticipates the worst scenario of geographical divisions.

The only valid solution for facing this continuous fragmentation within societies is rebuilding the “Concept of the State” through restructuring a national identity that face the religious, ethnical, tribal, and geographical identities. Fortifying the sense of nation, restoring the state of law and saving pluralism are the only diagnosis to the problem of sectarianism. At the same time, there should be some serious work on the cultural performance of people by raising their awareness and invest more in the social consciousness. This should be conducted through a clear strategy inspired by the need of having an enlightening movement that leads to a cultural revolution. The aim of this Cultural Revolution should be giving people the chance to practice different models of thinking and lifestyle, pushing them to think in a wider prospective so their cultural performance and way of thinking become compatible with the coming challenges that the world is facing with the concept of “Global Citizen.” Otherwise, Limitations on the faculty of mind would lead simply to more fragmentation, more conflicts and less opportunity of peaceful coexistence. 

Applying an effective process to face sectarianism does not seem to be easy, but if there is a serious political willingness to do a change, then it is the time to seize any possible opportunity. The first step should focus on building thought movements, as this mission is mostly the work of “Elite minds”. These intellectual movements would put the bases to move to the successive phase of thoughts marketing and transform ideas to concrete actions.  Moreover, the most important thing in this phase is to extricate people from the intimidation that many powerful radical groups are practicing on them.  Menacing people of the “Inferno” is something psychological that represents the incapacity of those groups to deal with changes. Therefore, governments should believe that any change would provoke resistance. Consequently, this should not block the process of change, at least, if there is a real conviction to do changes.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

The new phase of fighting terrorism

Fighting terrorism is taking a new dimension making of this war an open war and making of all elements of life a potential target. This new open confrontation means that security measurements should go through a restructuring phase, not just on the level of technics but also on the whole concept of security, approach, goal, protagonists and antagonists.

The new style of terrorism is targeting the civil life everywhere, is putting more pressure on all life details, from traveling in public transportations to have some normal cultural activities like attending concerts etc. This simply means that the major target of the new terrorism is making life of people more complicated. At the same time this strategy proves to be so efficient in draining the resources of security systems making of its personnel more and more exhausted. Therefore, time element might be playing in favor of the terrorist doctrine.

Big part of the new terrorist approach is based also on a new style of confrontation “individual Vs security system” which means that a single individual might be able to distract a whole security system, which makes the battle against terrorism today a very hard mission. Therefore,  it is important to adopt a strategy that can involve normal citizens, making of them effective protagonist in facing the new trends of terrorism on level of awareness and collaboration, this should be done under the process of building information-sharing partnerships, which will definitely help in having a full control over the situation as it is impossible for any security system to control all aspects of civic life. Moreover, this new system “Police citizen” can highly protecting critical infrastructure and civic places from attacks.

 Although terrorist challenges seem to be global, yet there is a big difference in the style of challenges that different countries are facing. Risks that Arab Countries are facing are somehow different from many of the risks that EU countries are facing; therefore, the approach should not be always the same. It is important also to think individually of an effective approach to face the risks.

EU internal security challenges come from very limited sources of danger, yet it can be so harmful. While many Arab countries are considered a source of breeding for radical ideologies so it would be illogic to deal with the source of problem in EU the way it should be seen in some Arab countries. However recently the EU fighters have contributed in enhancing the level of terrorist tactics from media campaigns, psychological war, and even style of terrorist operations inside the cities. Still, the problem in the EU is not as grave as it is in countries that considered a place where terrorist doctrines are going through phases of serious evolution.

Collaboration and cooperative security are highly important to face the terrorist risks, still, each country should focus on passing its own test and making of its model a successful model to be exported instead of just focusing on slogans of cooperation.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

New Security Challenges

Since the first intervention of the Russian military in Syria, the battle against ISIS has turned to a new breadth. The terrorist group started to broaden its targets map in order to prove its capacity of overruling everywhere; ISIS targeted vital civil posts to create a state of panic, and put more pressure on security services. These new tactics have brought new-fangled challenges to the security services, especially; to those who have been going through a very crucial period; it has become a nonstop alarm for over five years now. The biggest challenge lies in how all neighboring countries of Syria and Iraq will face the continuous crisis in the region, particularly; in a time when all risks are not only restricted to the terrorist threat, but also from the transnational organized crime that has been developing during the crisis.

The recent terrorist escalation shows that the majority of the security services are facing a variety of challenges, to keep up with the rapidly evolving leaps on levels of the crime, the complexity of the new tactics, and approach of the continuous breeding terrorist groups.

Having understood the level of risks that the world is witnessing nowadays should urge decision makers to adopt new strategies. Such strategies should be based on building the capacity of security services to be highly compatible to face professionally both terrorism and organized crimes.

This type of performance should focus also on enhancing the level of professionalism, sense of responsibility and commitment inasmuch as one miniature mistake today will cost a big price indeed. Moreover, these strategies should not exclude an immediate application of a de-radicalization plan by both military and civic sectors. Many studies show that radical signs started to be publicly notices in military sectors in various countires.

While keeping up with professionalism and combating radicalization are the major challenges of many security systems in the Arab region, European security services seem to have a different kind of challenge. European countries are obliged to revise their internal policies and to reform the way they have been dealing with many security and political issues. Most prominently, they need to deal with the current risks using an innovative approach by terminating the “closing eye” policy that made Europe having the enemies from within. This procedure requires more harmony among the institutions on the level of cooperative security. It is ludicrous to realize that some EU countries were paying, monthly, the unemployment fee of 600 euros to people who were fighting in Syria; while in the traditional scene they end up unemployed in the country. For the Belgium case, a walk around the main rail station was more than enough to make any analyst predict the level and the kind of extremism which dominates the scene there. Thus, to be surprised today from reaching this point is not logic.

Facing terrorism results into constructive challenges that get higher and higher; facing it with the traditional security methods seems to make it a lost battle. For example, there is no security service in the world that is capable of checking all people everywhere, or stops the civilian life with all its complicated details. Security measures, in particular, can be applicable just in sensitive areas, but recent developments show that terrorist groups are not interested in reaching these points to achieve their goals. Therefore, using methods of precautions to prevent such risks is more of “Intelligence work” than the police work.

It is central to deal with the new terrorist approach by enhancing the level of cooperative security, and understanding from the mistakes. Simultaneously, security concerns should not postpone the urge to apply a de-radicalization strategy; the real battle lies in the cultural and the social change, the way of life and style of thinking. Such battle can never be won merely by means of weapon or anti-terror operations.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

داعش يظهر قدراته على “الحركة والضرب” والتطرف عندما يخترق “الأمني والعسكري”

منذ التدخل العسكري الروسي في سوريا انتقلت المواجهة مع تنظيم داعش لتأخذ بعداً جديداً في طبيعتها، حيث بدأت تتركز على توسيع رقعة المواجهة في سعي التنظيم لاظهار قدرته على الحركة و الضرب في عدة اماكن و الاستهداف المباشر لاماكن حيوية مدنية يستطيع ن خلالها شل الحياة المدنية، و خلق حالة من الهلع و بالتالي توجيه ضربة مهمة للاجهزة الامنية.

مع هذه التحولات ظهرت تحديات جديدة امام الاجهزة الامنية بشكل عام، خصوصاً تلك التي مازالت تختبر قدرتهاعلى مواجهة الاستنزاف المباشر الناتج عن حالة التأهب المستمرة و التي تدخل عامها الخامس. التحديات الاكبرتواجه دول التماس المباشر مع الازمات المشتعلة و التي تواجه بالاضافة الى خطر التنظيمات الارهابية خطر انتشار العصابات المنظمة التي عملت بحرية تامة في محيط سوريا و العراق على مدار السنوات الماضية. اذاً بالاضافة الي التحديات الارهابية تواجه هذه الدول تحديات متعلقة بالجريمة المنظمة و  تطورها في مناطق الازمات، كذلك احتمالية انتقال هذه الجريمة للعمل في مناطق جديدة بعد الحد من حريتها في سوريا و العراق.

كل هذه المعطيات تشير ان اهم امتحانات الاجهزة الامنية الحالية هي امتحانات قدرة  الاجهزة و افرادها على مواكبة قفزات التطور السريعة في مستوى الجريمة و تعقيدات العمل الارهابي و التفريخات الجديدة للخلايا الارهابية.

ان استيعاب حجم التحديات هذه يشير الى ضرورة انتهاج استراتيجات جديدة معنية برفع قدرات الكوادر الامنية و تحضيرها بطريقة توازي حجم الاخطار التي باتت تمثلها الجريمة المنظمة و الارهاب. مع ضرورة التأكيد على تعزيز شعور المهنية و الالتزام و الحس بالمسؤولية و ادراك ان العبثية في التعامل او الخطأ له كلفة عالية جداً. يضاف الى ذلك ضرورة انتهاج استراتيجية واضحة لمكافحة التطرف لا تقتصر على المجتمع المدني بل ايضاً على القطاع الامني و العسكري حيث تشير بعض الدراسات ان كثير من ملامح التطرف بدأت بالظهور العلني على تركيبة المنظومة الامنية.

 من زاوية أخرى ان كانت المهنية و مواكبة التطور السريع للجريمة و الارهاب تمثل تحديات كثير من الاجهزة الامنية فان الاجهزة الاوربية تدخل في تحديات مختلفة نوعا ما. فاوروبا التي تواجه اليوم تحديات غير مسبوقة مضطرة لاعادة النظر في كثير من السياسات الداخلية و طبيعة التعاطي السياسي و الامني مع كثير من الملفات. أهمها التخلي عن تقليدية الاجراءات الامنية و ضرورة تفعيل عملية التعاون الامني على الصعيد الاوروبي و كذلك اعادة ترتيب عملية التنسيق الامني و التواصل بين الاجهزة الامنية في البلد نفسه، عداك عن ضرورة التخلي عن سياسات انكار الحقائق و غض الطرف عن مكامن الخطر، ففي بعض الحالات التي تم تسجيلها في بعض الدول الاوروبية المستهدفة بشدة اليوم، سُجلت عمليات دفع مبالغ مالية تقدر ب ٦٠٠ يوري شهرياً للفرد لمتعطلين عن العمل لمدة سنوات ليتبين لاحقاً ان هؤلاء المتعطلين عن العمل هم فعلياً مقاتلين اجانب في سوريا.

تحديات مكافحة الارهاب في ارتفاع مستمر و  المواجهة بالطرق التقليدية يبدو انها تأخذ المعركة باتجاه خاسر، فليس هناك اي جهاز على الارض قادر على القيام باجراءات من طراز تفتيش جميع الناس في جميع الاماكن او ايقاف الحياة المدنية و تفاصيلها المتعددة، خصوصاً ان الاجراءات الامنية تقتصر عادة على الاماكن الحساسة التي لم يعد الارهاب معني بالوصول اليها ليحقق مبتغاه. المطلوب تحول جِدي في التعاطي مع النهج الارهابي الجديد و رفع مستوى التعاون الامني و استيعاب اخطاء المرحلة السابقة، و في نفس الوقت لايمكن تأجيل انطلاق عمليات مكافحة التطرف بحجة انشغال الجميع بالواقع الامني، المعركة الحقيقية  هي في التغيير الثقافي و المجتمعي و اساليب التفكير و العيش و ليس فقط في السلاح و عمليات مكافحة الارهاب.

د.عامر السبايلة

The political side of the Russian military withdrawal

The urging launch of the political solution process in Syria seems to be at the top priority of both Moscow and Washington.  To achieve such process, both countries have already integrated a ground bases for this political solution by having two important UN resolutions: “to stop financing terrorism” and “to impose a political settlement”. On the practical side, the process included some essential steps like preparing the lists of terrorist groups, and then applying the cease-fire.

The Obstacles encountered negotiations in Geneva have forced the international powers (US and Russia) to seek some effective tactics in order to remove these obstacles and start the political process. Therefore, all the parties of the Syrian crisis should be subjected to pressure by its own ally. According to many observers, the US has put a lot of pressure upon its own allies which logically would urge Russia to do the same with its own allies to transfer the UN resolution from theory to application.

Consequently, most of the current political developments can be linked to the wish of the international community to make all the parts of the Syrian crisis ready to accept the obligatory option of “Political solution”. The Russian partial military withdrawal, for example; can be viewed from this prospective, especially that after five months from the Russian military intervention the environment for political solution seems to be much better than before, from limiting the expansion of ISIS, to changing the map of power on the ground, to draining the terrorist risks that can lead to chaos and Ending up in imposing cease fire and reconciliation among Syrian social components. Thus, identifying the HOW and WHEN of the Russian step shows that this step has a political message behind. It is eligible to remember that Russia has kept its strong military presence to serve under the umbrella of fighting terrorism, and it also maintained its two military bases on the Syrian coast and the Mediterranean. Accordingly, the way this decision was announced shows that behind this decision there is a hidden message to all parts on the international, regional and Syrian Level. Apparently, Moscow has achieved the aim where the political solution process can be launched, but it is still not interested in changing the power map for the interest of any group. However, everybody should assist in launching the political process that was agreed on in Geneva I.

Trying either to confront the UN resolution, or to impose a vision of one group would lead to negative impacts, and will simultaneously make, for those who work against the political process and the region, new challenges that cannot be faced easily.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh