By: Robin Murray-o'hair Re: Fundamentalists/Algeria Islamic Militias Denounce +quot;Atheis

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By: Robin Murray-o'hair Re: Fundamentalists/Algeria Islamic Militias Denounce "Atheist Entity," Degenerate into Warring Factions. Still, They Fight to Establish an Islamic Republic Modeled After Iran by Conrad F. Goeringer A precarious alliance between competing Islamic movements is starting to unwind in Algeria. Both the Armed Islamic Group and the military arm of the Islamic Salvation Front have been carrying out a terrorist war against the Algerian government. Both intend to establish a so-called "Islamic Republic" on the theocratic model found in Iran. Both militias have several thousand men, and both have coordinated their activities for the past two years. Armed Islamic Group appears to specialize in killing women, foreigners and secular government officials or intellectuals. It is estimated that 30,000 people have died during the last three years of the uprising. The New York Times (May 11), however, quoted Algerian government sources who suggested that the respective groups may themselves be degenerating into smaller bands following the leadership of self-appointed "emirs." AIG called upon the Salvation Front to "come back to the way of God" and cease any negotiation with "any Muslim or atheist entity inside or outside the country." That statement is interpreted as a reference to coalition and dialogue among various opposition groups in Algeria intent on finding a peaceful solution to the civil conflict. "Hard Line" an Alternative to Talk One possible explanation for this "hard line" strategy may lie in the dialogue between Israeli officials and the Palestine Liberation Organization. PLO has thus far succeeded in "outflanking" Islamic fundamentalists in groups such as Hamas. Many orthodox Muslim leaders are wary of dialogue; it is much easier to see the enemy in terms of absolutes, especially if it is Zionism or secularism, as is the case in Algeria. And many fundamentalists still embrace the vision of an Islamic confederation of religious states, modeled closely on the post-revolution experiment of Ayatollah Khomeni in Iran. A crescent of such territory, stretching from North Africa to the subcontinent, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, remains an inspiring dream to many, and a geopolitical nightmare to others. Armed Islamic Group may also fear that it will be left out of any peace process due to its early hard-line stance. The split between the two groups, however, underscores what may be a trend in Mid East politics -- rival insurgent factions battling each other. --30-- * WCE 2.0/2394 * *Avoid the addiction, just say "NO" to religion*

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