Three questions to Jonathan Powell on why to talk to terrorists

Jonathan Powell, British diplomat and former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief of staff, one of the architects behind the Good Friday peace agreement on Northern Ireland and founder of the NGO Inter Mediate, participated in FBA’s seminar in Almedalen on Tuesday 30th of June.

He recently published the book “Talking to Terrorists” where he advocates that sooner or later we always need to negotiate with terrorists; and why not sooner?

Why should governments talk to ISIS or Boko Haram?

Looking back in history, every time we meet a new terrorist organisation we say we will not talk to them and every time so far we eventually have done so to create a peace process. If this process has happened to PLO and IRA – why not for al-Qaida or ISIS?

Can you be friends with a terrorist?

As a negotiatior you need to be trusted by them and you need to have a working relationship with them. If you become friends you can fall into a “Stockholm syndrome” since they often are underdogs.

The Middle East is more unstable than in many years – what’s your prediction on the near future?

I believe we’re making a mistake to think that the Arab spring has ended. Every revolution has a counter revolution and I believe we’re looking at the middle of the Arab spring saying that it’s over, when this is just the beginning.

MORE FROM HOME

FBA’s programme for young peacebuilders in Iraq inaugurated

After decades of war, Iraq needs to be rebuilt. Violent protests against the inability of the Iraqi state to provide its citizens with security and basic social services have rocked the country recently. FBA is now starting a programme for young peacebuilders in Iraq, in order to strengthen them in their non-violent efforts for a positive development.

2019-10-28 16:55

IN THE FIELD

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Insights from the Inside: Women’s Mediation Networks as a Tool for Influencing Peace Processes

Civil society-led networks of women have for decades worked hard to promote peace in conflict areas around the world, and lately, a new wave of women's mediation networks are being established that are led by states or regional organizations. All these networks share a collective aim: To promote women's inclusion and influence in mediated peace processes.

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FBA, Uppsala University, PRIO
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2019

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Saba Nowzari

Saba Nowzari is expert on Mali, the Middle East and women, peace and security

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