The militia-run state, the refuge state or the hideout state?

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi

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In international order, nothing is equal to the value of a state which enjoys sovereignty and has an inherent right to join international institutions and build relations with other states and organizations. The present international order can only deal with recognized and stable states. When chaos and instability reign, dealing with these countries is then carried out via institutions affiliated with international institutions, i.e. those concerned with security, relief and human rights. Independent civil institutions, media outlets and others also become involved.

When there is a major imbalance in international power, it’s realized that there are circumstances which are not compatible with international laws and that are not included in the stable international order. An example is what is happening in the Middle East today as major conflicts violate various international laws and operate outside international regulations. These conflicts and the international incapability towards them produced a new reality which needs new concepts to define it and new policies to deal with it.

“The militia-run state,” “the refuge state” and “the hideout state” are new states that have appeared on the scene and the international order seems incapable of dealing with them because it does not understand these new constructs and cannot put them in their right frame.

Examples of the first are Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. These countries are heavily influenced or governed by armed ideological militias which belong to a political project that is led by a neighboring country with an active regional project, i.e. Iran after 1979. This ideological mullahs’ state has sought minimal work with international institutions and the international order to preserve the name of the state. It benefited from Cold War conflicts and tried to establish a model that is somehow similar to North Korea’s. However, Iran is far more dangerous than Korea for several reasons that have been explained in previous articles.

Havens for terrorism

The “refuge state” seeks to bring together those who violate international institutions and work against the latter’s stability and seek to spread chaos and terrorism for which they give several justifications. The example of such a state is Taliban, which made Afghanistan a refuge for Bin Laden, al-Qaeda and other Arab Afghan fighters. It is also represented in a large regional state that has a well-known project in supporting fundamentalism and terrorism. This state has become a contemporary refuge for all violent religious militias, starting from the Muslim Brotherhood to ISIS, with the well-known difference between these two models, and as an example for this is that ISIS named itself the Islamic State.

“The hideout state” is one that becomes a hideout or safe haven for terrorism and fundamentalism. The most prominent example of such a state is Qatar. The difference between the last two types is that “the refuge state” accepts the existence of these people, while “the hideout state” seeks them, sponsors them and supports them and is involved with them in their plans to spread terrorism and destruction.

The power and influence of ideas are not less powerful than politics and its decisions. Creating new concepts that match political and historical developments is important in understanding, as is the case with description and controversy. As an example for this; it is important to highlight the concept of “stability of chaos” which summarizes and describes the situation of many states during what was known as the “Arab Spring.” Fundamentalist groups during the terrorist and fundamentalist “Spring” massively manipulated international concepts like human rights, equality and democracy. They also deceived the West by using these terms and giving them purely fundamentalist interpretations that contradict with their true meaning.

In the end, all transformations in the region and the world can be dealt with in a better way, when they are analyzed in an innovative manner via new concepts that are more beneficial than previous ones.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad

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