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The Daily Show Provides Tip to Winning War on Radical Islam

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Posted on July 3 2010 10:00 am
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I bet you’d never see a headline like that. Thursday night on The Daily Show, Jere Van Dyk, who was held hostage by the Taliban for 45 days, was interviewed. He told an interesting story, but there was one key thing that every counter-insurgency/terrorism strategist should know: Tribal code supersedes Sharia law. Even the Al-Qaeda-types that held him hostage struggled with this, treating him as a hostage but also as a guest in accordance with tribal code.

Watch Van Dyk’s interview with Jon Stewart after the jump:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Jere Van Dyk
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

The tribal factor was critical to turning Iraq around. Paul Bremer, when he led the Coalition Provincial Authority that presided over Iraq, was actually approached by tribal leaders in 2003 wanting to take on the insurgents. They correctly saw them as a threat to their own power and the well-being of their tribe. Bremer, or perhaps someone under him, rejected the offer, seeing the tribes as an anti-democratic force that would undermine the government. This was a major mistake. Not only can tribal leaders be hostile to radical Islamic forces, especially foreigners, but they help fight sectarianism. Tribes often include both Sunnis and Shiites and inter-marriage is common. Sunni tribal members actually fought Al-Qaeda-type terrorists trying to kill their Shiite brethren.

Fast forward to the surge. The “Anbar Awakening” had already begun, but now the tribes were embraced as part of a nationwide strategy. And it worked. Now, the tribal factor doesn’t always work in our favor. Some of the Taliban and Pakistani militants are related to the Pashtun tribes. Anwar al-Awlaki’s tribal ties in Yemen are helping him keep safe and avoid capture. They almost definitely played a major role in why the Yemeni government released him in 2007.

The tribal factor doesn’t just apply to one country. This has to be part of the global strategy and applied to wherever tribes exist. Sharia law violates key aspects of tribal code. Radical Islam jeopardizes the power of tribal leaders. Democracies are adaptive, Sharia law is not. You want to win the War on Terror? You have to learn how to build productive relationships with the tribes.

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