How to Talk to Islamists (Without Getting Frightened) .
How to Talk to Islamists (Without Getting Frightened) .
Sunday, February 14,2010 10:57
By Shadi Hamid

If you've ever wondered whether we've engaged with Islamists, whether we can, and, perhaps more importantly, whether we should, then you're in luck. I've co-authored with Amanda Kadlec a new policy paper on "Strategies for Engaging Political Islam," published by the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. You can read it here.

In the paper, we assess existing polices toward political Islam and argue that engaging with mainstream Islamist groups is in the national security interest of the US and EU countries (yes, really). We look at three levels of Western engagement - low-level contacts, strategic dialogue, and partnership - and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The paper has an interesting genesis. We thought that instead of talking about Islamists, why don't we talk to them, and let them talk to us. Yea, I know - it's a pretty weird idea. Anyhow, the paper draws on discussions held in Washington last year with Ruheil Gharaibeh - Deputy Secretary-General of the Islamic Action Front and leading member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. During his time in Washington, Gharaibeh met with members of the policy community to discuss the relationship between Islamists and the West.

In any case, you probably should read the whole thing.

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