At the most excellent site Jihadica, I found this obscure gem:
Interview with Umarov, North Caucasus Amir
More interesting is Kavkaz Center’s newly-released interview with Dokka Umarov, the amir of the North Caucasus Emirate that he declared at the end of 2007. Here’s what stands out:
- The decision to declare an emirate was not taken lightly and occurred after much debate.
- Umarov acknowledges that he has taken a lot of heat from fellow travelers for aligning himself ideologically with al-Qaeda and declaring war on the world.
- The mujahids do control some territory, but their control is not absolute. Therefore, he does not want his supporters rushing to form a state.
The two translations, Arabic and English, diverge over what sort of state Umarov is talking about. In Arabic, he says he doesn’t want his supporters rushing to form an “actual state” (dawla fi`liyya). In English, he says he doesn’t want them rushing to form a “virtual state.” The difference is significant and if anyone can download the video and make out the right translation, I’d appreciate it
Almost two years ago, William Lind, musing on the prospects of the much more militarily and politically formidible HAMAS terrorist group, pointed to the question for 4GW entities “To Be or Not to Be a State”:
Normally, that captured Israeli would be a Hamas asset. But now that Hamas is a state, it has discovered Cpl. Gilad Shalit is a major liability. Israel is refusing all deals for his return. If Hamas returns him without a deal, it will be humiliated. If it continues to hold him, Israel will up the military pressure; it is already destroying PA targets such as government offices and arresting PA cabinet members. If it kills him, the Israeli public will back whatever revenge strikes the Israeli military wants. Hamas is now far more targetable than it was as a non-state entity, but is no better able to defend itself or Palestine than it was as a Fourth Generation force. 4GW forces are generally unable to defend territory or fixed targets against state armed forces, but they have no reason to do so. Now, as a quasi-state, Hamas must do so or appear to be defeated.
….Hamas faces what may be a defining moment, not only for itself but for Fourth Generation entities elsewhere. Does it want the trappings of a state so much that it will render itself targetable as a state, or can it see through the glitter of being “cabinet ministers” and the like and go instead for substance by retaining non-state status? To be or not to be a state, that is the question – for Hamas and soon enough for other 4GW entities as well.
Statehood appears to be a risky tipping point for an irregular movement to cross. A strong insurgency only makes for a vulnerable state and a targetable, semi-disciplined, conventional force unless the new state can devote years and resources to consolidating it’s fragile position. For that reason, in the era of State vs. State warfare, guerilla armies were careful to create separate civilian political wings or, better yet, “governments-in-exile” that could safely operate in some remote capitol, playing the diplomatic game of winning legitimacy under the protection of a foreign power. This is not an option for 4GW movements because being an overt pawn of foreign powers conflicts with the ability of the 4GW entity to compete on the moral level of warfare with the regime.
What about “virtual statehood” ?
This is easier to manage, being mostly free of the responsibilities of governance of fixed territory. A virtuual state is still targetable, being composed of social and economic networks but it is a highly elusive target, very adaptive, quickly evolving and with a propensity toward symbiotic behavior, grafting itself onto a host nation-state, willing or unwilling, such as Pakistan in the case of al Qaida ( and before Pakistan, Afghanistan. And prior to that, Sudan).
Wielding sophisticated information networks, the virtual state can cultivate primary loyalties anywhere on Earth that is within range of an ISP or area of mobile phone reception.