Sinister truth of a terrorist myth

September 17, 2015 13:40

Would you like to hear some good news that should be welcomed by all genuine peace lovers? Last week, the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland announced that, other than in "exceptional circumstances", there would be no further meetings of the Northern Ireland Executive.

This is the place in which the Unionist majority in Northern Ireland has been obliged to share power with the Nationalist minority. It is the most visible and most compelling symbol of the so-called "Good Friday Agreement" of 1998, which was at the time trumpeted as bringing peace after decades of "troubles" - a duplicitous euphemism for terrorist activity by armed units of various Nationalist and Unionist hues, but principally by the Irish Republican Army, the military wing of Sinn Fein.

The Northern Ireland Executive has had a troubled history. It has been suspended (or virtually so) several times. But the most recent suspension is important because of the trigger that led thereto. And, for our purposes, the suspension is important also because it exposes the falsehood that is deployed by a variety of Jewish groups who may still be heard arguing that "power-sharing," Ulster style, is the way forward for peacemaking in the Middle East.

Last week's suspension of the Northern Ireland Executive came about as a result of the murder in August of Kevin McGuigan, a member of the Provisional IRA. That is to say, he was a terrorist. But McGuigan was not killed by the security services, or even by a Loyalist sharp-shooter. He was, by common consent, gunned down by his own side, apparently as a reprisal for his having murdered, earlier this year, a former IRA commander, Jock Davison. Davison and McGuigan had once been friends. But they fell out, McGuigan shot Davison and the IRA pronounced a death sentence on him.

A central element in the Northern Irish so-called peace process had been the decommissioning of weapons and the disbanding of the paramilitaries. This has clearly not happened. And it was never going to happen.

It's clear that amnesties for terrorists simply don't bring peace

We know now that, at the time of the Good Friday agreement, the IRA was close to military defeat. The shoot-to-kill policy pursued by the British army had paid off. The IRA command structure had been elegantly infiltrated by British agents. Even Gerry Adams's former chauffeur, Roy McShane, turned out to have been a British spy. But, by giving its blessing to the Good Friday accord, the IRA clearly lived to fight another day. IRA "punishment squads" have continued to carry out kidnappings and kneecappings. And, as the execution of Kevin McGuigan shows, the organisation is still in business.

There are lessons that Middle East peacemakers need to learn from this depressing story. The Good Friday agreement has been held up as an example of what can be achieved by accommodating terrorism instead of defeating it. But terrorism can never be accommodated save on its own terms. Amnesties for convicted terrorists do not bring peace; they only put terrorists back on the street.

Quite apart from these self-evident truths, there are other realities that disqualify Northern Ireland as an example that Israel should follow. In the Irish case, there was a third party - the Irish Republic - that acted as a genuine and powerful go-between. No Arab state is or is ever going to be in this position. The Jordanian writ does not run on the West Bank. In Gaza, Hamas is not going to listen to Egypt - quite the contrary. Egypt's military government is as anxious as Israel to suppress Hamas militancy. But these days Hamas is bankrolled by Tehran, not Cairo.

True, the present Egyptian government can hardly claim a democratic mandate. But it has brought relative stability to the Egyptian state, a stability that is likely to be further underpinned by the massive natural-gas deposit recently discovered off Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

The Iranian ayatollahs have made it crystal clear that their ambition to crush the Jewish state remains as firm as ever. No amount of uranium enrichment is ever going to make them change their minds.

September 17, 2015 13:40

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