Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Finance of terror

During the last meeting of the House of Deputies, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism was ratified. While receiving less attention than the treaty with the US, this issue did raise questions during discussion. The major objections (by IAF deputies) that were raised were that there was no need for this convention, since local laws are sufficient to deal with aggressive terrorism (as opposed to passive terrorism, I presume). Other objections were that it will dry up sources of funds for charities and humanitarian organizations, that it is un-Islamic, and that it will target funds destined for Arab and Islamic resistance in Palestine.

The convention defines terror in its second article:

Any other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.
This is quite clear. It is not against armed resistance, such as the case in Iraq or in Palestine. So, why were the IAF deputies in a huff about this? One would think that they would be especially careful about associating themselves with enabling terror. However, they threw caution to the wind. My speculation is that there is a lot of mingling of funds between charity and resistance (or terror, depending on the particular operation). Hamas is considered to be a terrorist group by the US State department, but it raises and spends money on charity as well. It is not up to the US to decide who is a terrorist and who is not, according to the convention. However, the financing structure of Hamas would make it impossible to get any money to it, unless it disentangles charity from it's armed struggle. Either that, or it would have to stop operations that would be interpreted to be terrorism according to the convention.

Of course, the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood (the parent organization of the IAF) and Hamas is very close, with some considering the MB to be controlled by Hamas (here is an excellent article on the subject). So, it is quite natural that the IAF deputies would take such a stand. What is lost is the question of who the IAF strives to benefit, Hamas or Jordan? The typical argument is that the interests of the two don't contradict each other. This is one case where it is clear that they do. It is of Jordan's interest, if not necessity, to combat terror. Hamas has diverging interests.

A final point. It is clear that weakening of Hamas would lead to the weakening of the MB, so the issue is of self interest to the MB and IAF.

There is no record on the details of how the vote went, as usual.



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