AN ANALYSIS OF AL-QA'IDA'S WORLDVIEW:
RECIPROCAL TREATMENT OR RELIGIOUS OBLIGATION?
By Raymond Ibrahim
Is al-Qa'ida waging war on the United States, issuing a fatwa to "kill the Americans and seize their money"  (p. 13) in retaliation for U.S. oppression, or is this animosity founded on something else? Is it mere reciprocity or is it a religion-based ideology? Talking to the West, al-Qa'ida insists it is reciprocal treatment; talking to fellow Muslims, it insists that Islam demands this animosity. Consider the following discrepancies:
When addressing the United States, bin Ladin writes in response to the rhetorical question, "Why we [al-Qa'ida] are fighting you," "[b]ecause you attacked us and continue to attack us." (p. 197) In fact, reciprocal treatment has been al-Qa'ida's sole justification for all the terrorist acts it has perpetrated against the West. The West attacks Muslims -- for oil, Israel, land, or "Crusader" hatred -- and al-Qa'ida retaliates on behalf of Muslims.
Even the September 11, 2001, strikes are rationalized as mere acts of reciprocity. After describing the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, where a massive bombing campaign leveled several high-rise apartment buildings and left thousands of Arabs dead, bin Ladin said, "[A]s I looked upon those crumbling towers in Lebanon, I was struck by the idea of punishing the oppressor in kind by destroying towers in America -- giving them a taste of their own medicine and deterring them from murdering our women and children." (p. 215)
After September 11, when several more terrorist acts were committed around the world, targeting mostly Europeans, bin Ladin declared:
After the bombings in Madrid, where 191 people were killed and 1460 injured, bin Ladin again addressed the Europeans:
After the July 2004 London bombings, Zawahiri addressed the citizens of the United Kingdom thus:
There is no question, then, that al-Qa'ida's defense for committing all these acts of terrorism is that it is merely, as bin Ladin puts it, returning the West's "goods" -- that is, "terrorism" -- back to itself. Such a defense is plausible, provided, of course, that the West is guilty of initiating the terror. Under this interpretation, al-Qa'ida gouges the West's eye since the West first gouged Islam's eye.
Moreover, this defense is ultimately rooted in the "universal" concept of justice. Most people around the world, irrespective of religion or race, understand the concept of crime and punishment. And the Torah's "eye for an eye" injunction has been the standard for many people, no doubt due to its primordial, and thus universal, sensibilities. Yet, even though al-Qa'ida implies that it is acting under some sort of "universal law" that both Muslims and non-Muslims can appreciate, that is not fully true. For Muslims, there is only one particular set of laws that are to be adhered to -- Shari'a -- and, even if Shari'a contradicts something that non-Muslims consider a "universal right" -- such as equality -- still, Shari'a must have the final word.
When a group of Muslim scholars wrote to the Americans, saying that there should be equality, justice, and freedom between the West and Islam, bin Ladin had this to say about it:
Islam, or "submission" to Allah, is the ultimate form of justice, the Islamists argue; everything else, depending on how far it deviates from Shari'a, is oppression, injustice, and corruption. To be sure, under Shari'a, Muslims are to defend themselves against infidel aggression -- to wage a "Defensive Jihad" as al-Qa'ida claims to be doing. Indeed, most of Shari'a's divine guidelines concerning jihad have to do with the legitimacy and obligation of waging Offensive Jihad, simply to gain territory and lord over infidels; how necessary is Defensive Jihad, then, when there is a need to repulse the infidel from Islamic lands? 
However, Shari'a has other notions -- equally binding, according to Islamists like those who make up its leadership -- that do not comport so well with al-Qa'ida's claim that all this terrorism is simply due to Western aggression and Muslim retaliation. In other words, under Shari'a law, even if the West completely ceased all its hostilities, real or imagined, against the Islamic world, total peace would still not commence. Under Shari'a, permanent peace can only commence when the entire world either embraces or, at the very least, is governed by Islam. 
Discussing the need to overthrow those Muslim "apostate" governments that do not rule in accordance to Shari'a, bin Ladin, addressing Americans, says:
Ayman al-Zawahiri similarly exhorts Muslims:
That last sentence -- "making Islam supreme in its [own] land, and then spreading it around the world" -- raises questions regarding al-Qa'ida's statements to the West, the fundamental one being: Even if all of the West's perceived or real hostilities vis-à-vis the Islamic world were to cease, would Islam then be at peace with the outside world?
Concerning this question, bin Ladin has been forthright -- though only when speaking to fellow Muslims. "Moderate Islam is a Prostration to the West" (p. 17-61) -- the most revealing and straightforward document produced by al-Qa'ida -- puts its vision of Islam's relationship with the rest of the world in clear context.
In this essay, Muslims (in the guise of Saudi intellectuals who, in response to a letter of cooperation  written by Americans, responded with their own letter)  are chastised for even daring to want to coexist with the infidel West. Bin Ladin makes clear that the animosity between the Muslim and the infidel -- which should always be "directed from the Muslim to the infidel" (p. 43) -- far transcends any talk of grievances.
Yet, when the Saudi intellectuals wrote, "the heart of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is justice, kindness, and charity -- this is the equity that Allah loves and has commanded us with [p. 42]," bin Ladin was quick to clarify what true justice is:
The Saudi intellectuals had tried to clarify to the West that all peoples -- irrespective of religion -- were entitled to justice and should never be oppressed: "Justice between people is their right, while oppression between them is forbidden -- no matter what their religion, color, or nationality is" [p. 44].
When addressing and accusing the West, al-Qa'ida has relied on similar language. Writing to the Americans, bin Ladin, implying that he shares universal notions of justice and injustice, sarcastically asked, "How many acts of oppression, tyranny, and injustice have you carried out, O you ‘callers to freedom?'" (p. 204)
Yet, writing to the Saudis, bin Ladin clarifies al-Qa'ida's true notions of oppression and injustice:
However, bin Ladin's ultimate motives became apparent after the Saudi intellectuals wrote: "Thus we say in all earnestness and plainly that we can open a mature dialogue around every issue that the West submits, ever cognizant that we share a number of understandings, moral values, rights, and ideas with the West, which, if fostered, can create a better [world] for all concerned" (p. 37)
To this "blasphemy," bin Ladin wrote extensively:
Moreover, when the Saudi intellectuals dared write, "It's imperative that we bid all to legitimate talks, presented to the world, under the umbrella of justice, morality and rights, ushering in legislations creating peace and prosperity for the world," [p. 31] bin Ladin lamented:
Speaking to the Europeans, bin Ladin tries to define terrorism:
Finally, bin Ladin makes it quite clear that terrorism is used only in reciprocity, since al-Qa'ida has no other choice:
Taken together, all these messages assert that the terror al-Qa'ida inflicts upon the West has nothing to do with Western freedoms and everything to do with reciprocal treatment. Moreover, by stating "we have no other option" than to engage in acts of terrorism, bin Ladin clearly implies that terrorism is being relied upon as a last resort out of desperation. Thus, al-Qa'ida maintains that there is no correlation between Western freedoms and Islamic terrorism -- that the latter is never used simply to suppress the former.
This is not the case when addressing the Saudis. After they wrote to the Americans saying that Islam does not allow coercion in matters of religion, bin Ladin, once again, revealed his true beliefs and ultimate goals. The Saudi intellectuals had declared:
After explaining that this verse has to do with matters of the heart and not Islam's destiny to rule the whole world,  bin Ladin quotes the Hadith:
When the Saudi intellectuals wrote: "Man, from his very make-up, is a sacred creation," and, thus, it is impermissible to transgress against him, no matter what his color, race, or religion," bin Ladin, after mocking their language for its "UN" tone, wrote extensively:
As for direct support for terrorism, bin Ladin again refers to the Koran:
The Saudi intellectuals wrote: "Terrorism, according to the universally agreed meaning being used today, is but one of many manifestations of unjust aggression against life and property." Bin Ladin, outraged, responds:
Taken together, the above three sections all demonstrate that, for al-Qa'ida, hostility and violence towards the West is not merely "reciprocal treatment" -- that is, "an eye for an eye" -- but, rather, religious obligation that far transcends any and all notions of "universal justice" and claims to grievances. However, there are two more notable contradictions between what they say to the West and what they affirm to Muslims. Consider the following disparities:
In late January, 2006, bin Ladin, who had not been heard from for over a year, resurfaced by way of an audio-tape and offered the Americans a truce:
However, while Islam does permit the making of truces with infidels, it only allows this under certain conditions -- namely, when Muslims are in a weakened position and unable to wage an Offensive Jihad effectively.  In Jihad, Martyrdom, and the Killing of Innocents, Ayman Zawahiri declares:
In this same treatise, Zawahiri stresses the need for deception in warfare. Based on Muhammad's assertion, "War [is] deceit," Zawahiri goes on to say:
More importantly, however, in Ayman al-Zawahiri's treatise Loyalty and Enmity, Muslims are flat-out told that lying and dissembling in front of infidels is permitted. This is the doctrine of taqiyya (religiously sanctioned lies for purposes of self-preservation),  which has plenty of Koranic but especially Hadith support. The Koran states:
Two of the more famous Hadiths evoked by al-Qa'ida say, "Truly, we grin to the faces of some peoples, while our hearts curse them"; and "Protection is not secured by deeds, but with the tongue." (p. 73)
Finally, there are also several Hadiths of Muhammad that justify oath-breaking. For instance, "Allah's Messenger [Muhammad] said, ‘He who takes an oath, but eventually finds a better way, should do that which is better and break his oath.'" (Sahih Muslim 15: 4057)
Considering that al-Qa'ida subscribes to the view that Islam must war with the non-Muslim world till the former subsumes the latter, and that they also subscribe to these doctrines of deceit, what is to be made of al-Qa'ida's truce-offers?
How, then, should al-Qa'ida's messages to the West -- wholly crafted to vindicate al-Qa'ida, weaken Western resolve, and incite the umma -- be taken? Should one conclude that all those grievances that al-Qa'ida cite are wholly unfounded? Not necessarily. In fact, it is precisely because the vast majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims, not to mention a considerable number of non-Muslims, believe these grievances to be true that al-Qa'ida enjoys the apparent widespread -- sympathetic, if not actual -- support that they receive. 
All that said, Westerners should also be cognizant of what al-Qa'ida and like-minded Islamists ultimately want as the former consider the long list of alleged wrongs the Islamic world has suffered at the hands of the West. In other words, if al-Qa'ida's arguably "just" demands are met -- if the United States evacuates Iraq and Afghanistan, if the West keeps its nose out of the Islamic world's affairs, even if Israel were to disappear -- would all that be enough to satisfy al-Qa'ida and their supporters? Certainly, it would be a start. Yet, based on their words and convictions that all injunctions of the Koran must be fulfilled, it is clear that, when the time is ripe, the jihad would merely shift from being Defensive to being Offensive -- the latter being the true and historic manifestation of jihad. 
Nor should Westerners believe that al-Qa'ida is the root of the problem. The "problem" between the West -- in fact, the world -- and Islam is the "radical" version of the latter articulated by al-Qa'ida but also other Islamists -- past, present, and, no doubt, future. This is even historically demonstrable: When Hasan al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb (respectively, founder and ideologue of Egypt's famous Muslim Brotherhood) were assassinated, that organization did not fall apart, but continued thriving underground for decades, until, to international dismay, it won a fair number of seats in Egypt's recent elections; the Iranian Islamic Revolution did not die with its spiritual leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, but is as strong now as it was then -- with the exception that its nuclear aspirations are nearly realized; after the spiritual leader of Hamas, Ahmad Yassin was assassinated, far from losing influence, Hamas won the majority of House seats in Palestine's recent elections. Ayman al-Zawahiri summarizes this phenomenon well:
The bottom line is, perceived Western injustices -- as propagated by bin Ladin's mantras -- have nothing to do with the ultimate source of hostilities between Islam and the West (Infidelity). The doctrine of Offensive Jihad, spreading the laws of Allah to every corner of the world by the sword and enforcing the practice of dhimmitude (that is, discriminating and humiliating those who, having been conquered and living under Islamic suzerainty, still do not embrace Islam officially), was and remains a basic tenant of Islam, as it was well before Islam ever encountered the West:
Fight those amongst the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden [i.e. enforce Shari'a law], and who do not embrace the religion of truth [Islam], until they pay the Jizya with willing submissiveness and feel themselves utterly subdued. [Koran 9:29]
The word "until" (hata) highlights the perpetual nature of this command. Enmity for non-Muslims, irrespective of whether or not they harm the Muslim, is also a basic tenant of the faith, established before Islam and the West met:
You have a good example in Abraham and those who followed him, for they said to their people:
It is important to keep in mind that these verses have nothing to do with reciprocity; instead they express the standard relationship between Muslims and infidels -- even when the latter do not interfere in Muslims' affairs, militarily, economically, politically or culturally, and completely mind their own business. Moreover, such hostility is perceived as altruistic, as bin Ladin concludes: "As for oppression, the only oppression is to forsake them in their unbelief, and not launch an [Offensive] Jihad against them till they submit to the faith--as the Prophet did with them." (p. 46)
At this point, many will proclaim that al-Qa'ida is misusing, misinterpreting, or taking these otherwise straightforward verses out of context. That is hardly the point here: Even if this were true, that does not change the fact that many men before al-Qa'ida, going back to the first jihads of the Seventh Century, have also "misused" them, or that many today who have nothing to do with al-Qa'ida, "misinterpret them," or ultimately that many after al-Qa'ida will also be taking them "out of context." In other words, even if those verses really do not mean what they seem to be saying, they certainly led themselves to the sort of hostile interpretation that al-Qa'ida and other Islamists, past, present and future, give to them. This is all the more troubling, since it took only 19 men who follow such "interpretations" to cause the terror attack of September 11, 2001.
Irrespective of real or imagined Western injustices, the real question of permanent peace revolves around the above Islamic doctrines. In this sense, then, real peace ultimately depends on Islam and how it defines itself: Either Islam will dominate the whole world fulfilling its destiny, or else Muslims themselves will reject the doctrines of jihad, dhimmitude, and general enmity for non-Muslims. The problem, however, is that, even if all these divisive doctrines are formally repudiated, will that be merely a show of taqiyya, a stratagem of war?
Based purely on al-Qa'ida's, that is, radical Islam's, worldview, it is readily apparent that the West is given no choice but to fight -- to gain the upper hand and strive to keep it, even at the risk of being oppressive. What good are al-Qa'idist appeals to justice in face of its belief that every person has but three choices (convert to Islam, live the life of a dhimmi, or die)? What good is it telling the West that they have "choices" in face of an immutable Shari'a? What good is a truce in face of doctrines of deception?
This is unfortunate for Muslims, and in this sense al-Qa'ida's "version" of Islam brings them more harm then good. If Islam is perceived as being intrinsically hostile to the infidel world at large -- as al-Qa'ida and many other Muslim insist -- all of the possibly legitimate grievances that many Muslims believe they are suffering become moot, since the West is doing what it must to stay dominant against a potentially hostile force. Thus, even if Muslims are being oppressed, as long as these grievances are being articulated through an Islamic paradigm that perceives justice solely through Shari'a and not through anything universal or innate to the human condition, the West, in the interest of self-preservation, as well as the preservation of freedoms, has no choice but to reject all accusations, offers, and threats from Islamists, and fight.
Indeed, according to this worldview, upheld by al-Qa'ida, where the Abode of Peace (Islam) and the Abode of War (the rest) are forever in a struggle of life and death, the West can hardly be blamed for behaving oppressively, if, in fact, it does, towards the Islamic world. In this context, such oppression can be understood as a sort of "preemptive" reciprocal treatment, as the argument can be made that, if the West does not keep Islam suppressed, Islam will suppress it. A survival of the fittest mentality -- "get them before they get us" -- is the only mentality that can withstand radical Islam, as so well represented by al-Qa'ida.
In fact, bin Ladin's many statements of reciprocity work both ways: "Shall a man be blamed for protecting his own?" "The road to safety begins by eliminating the aggression." "Reciprocal treatment is part of justice." "He who initiates aggression is the unjust one." "We believe that this right to defend oneself is the right of all human beings."  "We want to defend our people and our land. That is why I say that, if we don't get security, the Americans, too, would not get security.
This is a simple formula that even an American child can understand. This is the formula of "live and let live."  Ironically, every single one of these statements actually justifies Western aggression against radical Islam.
Thus, the West is damned if it does, damned if it doesn't. If the West voluntarily concedes to the demands and grievances of al-Qa'ida, it will be perceived as a weakness or an admission of defeat, and will eventually only encourage an Offensive Jihad, when the time is right. If the West actually loses the current war, that too will provoke an offensive response, one seen as the natural next stage in the struggle toward the total victory of Islam. This is an important reminder to those many who, while condemning al-Qa'ida's methods, agree or sympathize with their grievances. The current battle at hand may ostensibly revolve around those grievances; but the forthcoming war will ultimately be about militarily establishing Islamic supremacy over the entire globe.
Some will discount this possibility as implausible, since it seems so distant; but the wild vicissitudes of history are constantly proving otherwise.
 Raymond Ibrahim, The Al-Qa'ida Reader (New York: Broadway, 2007). Excerpts from the book are followed by the page number in the text.
 Germans in Tunisia: On April 11, 2002, a 24-year-old Tunisian man, who is suspected of spending some time in Afghanistan between 2000 and 2001, carried out a suicide operation in the Tunisian island and popular tourist destination Djerba: Fourteen German tourists, one Frenchman, and six Tunisians were killed, and 30 were wounded. French in Karachi: On May 8, 2002, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb alongside a crowded bus in Karachi, killing 11 Frenchmen and two Pakistanis. Fifty others were wounded. French tanker in Yemen: On October 6, 2002, the Limburg, a French oil tanker carrying 397,000 gallons of crude oil stationed in the Gulf of Amen off the Yemeni coast, was rammed by an explosive-laden boat. One Bulgarian crewman died, 12 were injured, and nearly 100,000 barrels of oil leaked out. Marines in Failaka: On October 8, 2002, while U.S. Marines were conducting war games on the Kuwaiti island of Failaka, two Kuwaiti nationals walked up to the troops and opened fire, killing one American and wounding two. British and Australians in Bali: On October 12, 2002, three bombs were detonated in the town of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people and injuring a further 209. It is considered the deadliest act of terrorism in Indonesian history. The majority of the dead were foreign tourists, including some 88 Australians, 26 British, and 38 Indonesians. Operation in Moscow: On October 23, 2002, 40 armed Chechen rebels seized a crowded Moscow theater, taking over 700 hostages and demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya. After a siege of two and a half days, Russian special forces stormed the building after firing in some sort of anesthetic gas. All of the Chechen rebels were killed, along with 130 of the hostages.
 The "blessed raid" on London occurred on July 7, 2005, during rush hour and consisted of a series of coordinated suicide bombings that struck the city's public transport system. The bombings killed 52 civilians and injured over 700.
 As far as the thirteenth century jurist Ibn Taymiyya--known as the Shaykh of Islam--is concerned, Defensive Jihad is second only after belief itself. Al-Qa'ida often quotes the following passage from Taymiyya's fatwas to demonstrate the obligation for Muslims to join the Defensive Jihad against the United States and its allies: "Defensive warfare is the most critical form of warfare, [since we are] warding off an invader from [our] sanctities and religion. It is a unanimously accepted duty. After belief, there is no greater duty than to repulse the invading enemy who corrupts faith and the world. There are no rules or conditions for this; he must be expelled by all possible means. Our learned ulama and others have all agreed to this. It is imperative to distinguish between repulsing the invading, oppressive infidel [Defensive Jihad] and pursuing him in his own lands [Offensive Jihad]."
 This is the standard view adopted by, for instance, the Four Schools (madhahbs) of Sunni jurisprudence, and is attested by many standard works of Islamic law. For example, the Encyclopedia of Islam's entry on jihad simply states, "The duty of the djihad exists as long as the universal domination of Islam has not been attained."
 Non-Muslims, Jews and Christians, who are "protected" in exchange for sociopolitical submission and the payment of special taxes.
 In several public addresses, the American president has often referred to al-Qa'ida and its affiliates as "enemies of freedom" and "people who hate freedom." In his address to a joint session of Congress and the American people delivered nine days after the September 11 attacks, the president remarked, "Americans are asking, why do they [perpetrators of September 11] hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber--a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms--our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
 Bin Ladin's position towards this verse is simply that, either it has been abrogated by the "sword verse" (Koran 9:5)--which, in fact, most ulama agree has abrogated some 120 Meccan (peaceful) verses--or else that it has nothing to do with Islam's command to rule the world, but rather deals with freedom of conscience.
 The "pact of Umar" is the treaty that was made between the People of the Book and the second Caliph, Umar. In order to continue practicing their faiths, Christians and Jews had to agree to several social conditions enumerated in the pact that, among other things, were meant to induce humiliation and debasement in accordance with the verse cited (Koran 9:29). For instance, they were to rise from their seats if a Muslim wanted it; they were forbidden from riding on saddles or bearing any arms; they were forbidden from publicly showing their crosses or worshipping too loudly, lest Muslim eyes or ears be offended; they were forbidden from building new churches, or even repairing old ones. Some apologists maintain that these conditions were not strictly enforced at all times. However, what is important here is that "dhimmitude," like bin Ladin asserts, is in fact a basic tenant of Islam and thus should be enforced under Shari'a law.
 In fact, Shaykh Abdallah Azzam (1941-1989), the highly influential Islamic scholar, mujahid, and bin Ladin's onetime mentor and hero, often boastfully referred to Muhammad as, not only a terrorist, but the first terrorist: "We are terrorists. Every Muslim must be a terrorist. Terrorism is an obligation as demonstrated in the Koran and Sunna. Allah Most High said: ‘Muster against them [infidels] all the men and cavalry at your command, so that you may strike terror into the heart of your enemy and Allah's enemy' [Koran 8:60]. Thus terrorism is a [religious] obligation. And the Messenger of Allah is the first terrorist and the first menace" (al-Hijra wa al-I‘dad). Some have accused bin Ladin of falling out and assassinating Azzam in order to assume control of the then nascent base ("al-Qa'ida").
 Most jurists are agreed that, theoretically, ten years is the maximum amount of time for peace between Islam and infidels, based on Muhammad's treaty of Hudaybiyya. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, "Peace with non-Muslim nations is, therefore, a provisional state of affairs only; the chance of circumstances alone can justify it temporarily. Furthermore there can be no question of genuine peace treaties with these nations; only truces, whose duration ought not, in principle, to exceed ten years, are authorized. But even such truces are precarious, inasmuch as they can, before they expire, be repudiated unilaterally should it appear more profitable for Islam to resume the conflict."
 For more on the topic of taqiyya, see Raymond Ibrahim, "Islam's Doctrines of Deception," Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst, September 26, 2008.
 That a bounty combined to amount nearly 100 million dollars placed on bin Ladin and Zawahiri's heads has not been collected in one of the most impoverished regions in the world is telling enough.
 All the original Islamic texts, from Hadiths to books on Islamic law, that discuss the term "jihad," explain it as war to simply spread Islamic authority. It was only after the Crusades and Mongol invasions that the ulama began delineating the concept of "defensive" jihad which, according to premiere jurists such as Ibn Taymiyya, is second only to faith, and obligatory on the entire Muslim umma, as opposed to offensive jihad, which is deemed a "communal duty," or fard kifiya.
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
International Politics & World Disorder:
War, Peace, & Geopolitics in the Real World:
Foreign Affairs & U.S. National Security
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
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Raymond Ibrahim is Associate Director of the Middle East Forum. He writes regularly about radical Islamism and is the author of The Al Qaeda Reader (Broadway, 2007), as well as translations of religious texts and Islamist propaganda.
The foregoing article by Raymond Ibrahim was originally published in the Middle East Review of International Affairs, December, 2008, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/2043)
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