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Negotiating with Terrorists

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Terrorism happens when the demands of on party are not being met. To prevent terrorism, the governments should be innovative in developing approaches of defending national security. These approaches should include negotiation with terrorism sponsors. This is usually done with threats in case of non-compliance. Negotiation assists in getting the required information that is helpful in preventing terrorism and convicting the responsible parties.

Most governments openly admit that they will not negotiate with terrorists because terrorists should indeed be punished for their actions. They also argue that democracies should never allow terrorism but in practice, these governments eventually negotiate with the terrorist. The rigidity of these governments has given no room for clear solutions on how to deal with terrorists. Negotiation refusal shows rejection of the other party and this rejection makes it difficult to solve disputes. It is important to understand that negotiating does not mean that you have given in. In contrast, it gives room for clear communication and defense as well as a room for change. However, negotiation does not give guaranteed results.

A common type of negotiation is integrative negotiation. This is where the two parties agree on a “win-win” solution. Each party comes with its interest; they discuss it until they conclude in which none of the parties feel that it has lost. Since the terrorists have their demands and the ones being terrorized have their demands to, they agree on one thing during negotiations and none of the parties feels a loser. This type of negotiation boosts good relations. There is also soft and hard negotiation. Under this, the parties negotiate positions instead of interests. A soft negotiator treats the opponent as a friend, seeking concession instead of costs and creating good relations between the two involved parties.

 Mediators are always seen as evangelists for conflict resolution in negotiation. It is believed that negotiation is the most effective form of conflict solving like arbitration and litigation. Negotiations can solve almost all types of conflicts if conducted properly by a mediator. Patience is also required   during mediation to avoid making hurried decisions that could lead to further terrorism. We should however understand that some conflicts cannot be solved through mediation and it is important to try out the other forms of conflict solving.

When negotiating it is important to consider similar past disputes that have been solved through this tactic. This is because in some cases negotiation does not work at all whereas in some other cases, it can yield very admirable consensus.  The terms and motivation of the terrorists should be clearly analyzed, most important the agreement arrived at should be kept, and none of the parties should try to change the terms later on due to dissatisfaction.

Negotiation helps in violence escalation and prevention. It can either be done directly or mediated to move the conflict to a resolution. Direct negotiation involves the parties involved negotiating whereas mediated negotiation is where a third party gets involved. A third party is usually involved when the involved parties are unable to solve their problems. The solutions of the mediator are thereafter negotiated by the conflicting parties. The mediator also makes sure that the negotiations continue until a consensus is arrived at. To prevent terrorism violence, three elements are required and these are; tactics, attitude and stakes.

Stakes can be defined as what really matters to the parties requiring negotiation. This includes benefits and costs that the parties encounter if negotiations are done early enough. Negotiators should first change the way the parties view the stakes. Each party should at least gain from the agreement that will be reached at. When the stakes are not sufficient for both parties, the mediator should come in to give both negative and positive stakes from his point of view.

Regarding attitude, the opponents regard each other as an enemy. The negotiator should involve preventive diplomacy where by each party should learn to accommodate the other than conflicting. The attitude of viewing the other party as an enemy escalates violence. When the demands of the terrorist are regarded as illegitimate, the problem cannot be solved and therefore the mediator should aim at changing those attitudes so that a consensus can be arrived at.

Tactics as the third element involves proper timing, good terms and toughness. It concerns how to persuade and change the attitude of the involved parties. The negotiator should have the skills to persuade the conflicting parties in order to come to an agreement. The timing should be appropriate, that is, a time when the two parties are ready and willing to negotiate. The negotiator must also have proper understanding of the problem at hand. That way he will be able to mediate properly without favor or bias.

For proper negotiation to take place it is important to understand the causes of terrorism and they are basically two. Some people will terrorize because of political and social matters that they believe are not right for example when they are denied their right. The other cause of terrorism is the mentality that through violence justice will be affected. This usually happens after a very long deliberation period and finally discovering that there is no hope ahead unless they result to violence. These two reasons do not sound as if they can lead to violence but looking at various terrorist groups, we can confirm it. Looking at the case of Osama Bin Laden, he resulted to violence because of his belief on Islam that the United States did not recognize.

There are generally two types of terrorists; contingent and absolute. Kidnappers fall under the contingent category whereas suicide bombers are absolute terrorists and they rarely seek negotiation because they view it as a sign of betrayal.  In the category of absolute terrorists, there are total absolutes and conditional absolutes.  Total absolute terrorists give no room for negotiation and in fact negotiation encourages them to go ahead with their plans. On the other hand, conditional terrorists usually have something to negotiate, for example independence. They include suicide bombers. The conditional absolute terrorists should be offered concessions to their demands. This should come as a reward for them abandoning their terrorism violence tactics. It should not appear like the concession is as a result their terrorism pressure.

All the same some absolute terrorists allow negotiation and they may end up moderating their means. It is however very hard to convince such terrorists to reduce their terms and to reach an agreement with them. Governments willing to negotiate with terrorists should be very careful. They should not do so to simply end the violence but they should negotiate with minimal risk to avoid precedents who could be more dangerous and to avoid political instability of their systems. Terrorism if allowed to happen would definitely lead to political instability.

For effective negotiation to happen, the involved parties should agree that they are in a bad stalemate and that they should seek a way to solve their differences. Negotiators should aim at letting the terrorists know that they will gain from the negotiations. They should also assist them develop alternative means of achieving what they want other than terrorism. Negotiation should not be done in a hurry but over a long period of time. Persistence and patience helps in dealing with terrorists since it is a very long strategy.  

            The negotiator’s goal is to give very little to give room for the terrorists to speak out their demands. Negotiators usually have two strategies to choose from when dealing with terrorists. They should either change the terrorists’ terms or reduce them. The terrorists should be made have fewer expectations and eventually they will lower their demands. Terrorists should also be shown that their future personal demands are negotiable even though their original ones are not. When they are made to understand the need for a solution search, they will obviously get involved in the search for a solution.

            Negotiators face several challenges in their venture to bring about peace. Many countries do not give room for capacity building because they view it as material support yet anti-terrorism legislation proscribes it. They therefore face the problem of external interferences that are determined to take over the mediation role. These external parties are always supporting one of the conflicting parties, the other party will feel bad, and the resistance is likely to continue.

            Negotiation as a form of peace building is meant to lead to confidence building. The mention of one party as a terrorist group brings about mistrust. It becomes very difficult for the mediator to convince the other party to sit down and come to an agreement with the terrorist group. The terrorists are viewed to always have bad intentions and so are their ideas. However, the mediator should try his best to make the two parties agree. Listening to the other party’s point of view would be of great help as it would bring about understanding and eventually a consensus. The role of the mediator in dealing with this challenge is closing the gap between the two parties’ points of view.

            Several tactics are available for negotiators. However the terrorist’s demands are not always legitimate and terrorism is not always encouraged by concessions. An agreement is reached upon, when the terrorists’ demands are listened to and the acceptable ones are considered. During negotiation, the negotiator should always strike a fair deal acceptable by the involved parties. The negotiator can suggest alternatives as a tactic, firmness should also be considered and creative thinking is also very important when it comes to negotiating .

Kidnappers and hostage takers are examples of contingent terrorists. For hostages, they are highly at risk during the first hour of hostage taking. This is because at this time the kidnappers are not at ease since they are nervous. At this time they are also aggressive and they want to succeed. Once the situation has stabilized, the tension reduces on both the hostage and the kidnapper and at this time, negotiation can start.

Negotiators of hostage must keep in mind that the terrorist wants to live more than to die. They should therefore try to make sense in them that their intentions may lead to their deaths yet they have a brighter future ahead if only they negotiated and agreed on favorable terms. During negotiation it is also important to be prepared for anything, either agreement or rejection.  However, one cannot successfully negotiate with terrorists who want to die as martyrs because it would be difficult to change their mind on what they have already decided i.e. that theirs is a holy mission and that they will go direct to heaven on accomplishment of the mission.

The conclusion to a negotiation can be detected. One can easily tell when the terrorist is ready for an agreement. For example, he might start talking about what will happen in future if certain things were done or if they were not done. Usually there is no a given formula on how and when to arrive at a consensus. Usually you read from the signs shown. The communication matters a lot during negotiation. One should sound considerate and should not force the other party to agree with them. The terrorist should be given much time to explain and to air their views because failure to that would lead to high costs and even some serious experiences.

However some people argue that terrorists should never be negotiated with in the sense that more terrorists have existed in the past and that they have been defeated. They firmly believe that these terrorist groups should be dealt with through intelligence and that penetration of the groups would be more effective. Others argue that some terrorists take negotiation as a means to accomplish their political and religious interest. It is however advisor to negotiate with the terrorists since negotiation gives more information that could not be known. This information might help to deal with the terrors’ grievances that at times could be genuine ones.

Negotiation has been an option to conflict solving since the early years. During the cold war, the Soviet Union leaders were talked to avoid nuclear wars. This was also done to clear up any misunderstandings. If people refused to negotiate at that time, very many innocent people would have died. People should not refuse to negotiate just because they do not want to feel like losers or simply because they do not want to associate with evil people. To understand an issue is very important and terrorist issues cannot be understand unless agreement on negotiation has come. That way both parties understand each other and you may realize that the terrorists’ demands were actually genuine (Fisher & Brown, 2008, p.69).

Talking to terrorists is therefore very important for three main reasons. First, it helps prevent the unnecessary battles that would otherwise be solved through negotiation. Negotiating with terrorists helps to delay fights through the negotiation period that helps to get long lasting solutions to a conflict. Talking also gives an avenue for showing the consequences of terrorism which are outlined during negotiation. The understanding of the terror acts helps in that the terrorists can clearly see the damage they can cause through terrorism activities. They may at first feel good when they are threatening other governments but after understanding they may even surrender. There is also understanding of the terrorist demands that at times could be genuine.

It is important to note that the strong party in negotiation may refuse to negotiate with the terrorist party. This strong party can also bring about ceasefire demands. This weakens the terrorists and they are likely to result to violence being the only option since they have little bargaining powers. This is because if the go by the strong party’s demands they will have nothing to bargain with. The weak party lacks the resources in order to change the situation at hand. Negotiators delay the negotiation proceedings by not evaluating gains, but instead evaluating losses hence making concession very difficult.  

Negotiation power is very important.  Constructive power involves the ability to satisfy the other party’s needs. Here, you need to do enough research, learn their body language and ask them questions. Negotiators should also have the power to negotiate for their own satisfaction. There is also jumping power that involves the ability to leave a negotiation without hurting the other party and this requires you having desirable alternatives. During negotiation, personal power is also needed. This includes your confidence, knowledge and skills to achieve your goal.

Negotiation is inevitable when dealing with enemies, especially terrorists who are violent. Before resulting to violence it is advisable to try negotiating with the terrorists. Because of the high risks involved while dealing with terrorist, many governments have not been using negotiation as means to solve their disputes with the terrorists. Their demands are deemed as baseless and hence not negotiable. As a means to bargain, the terrorists can take advantage in negotiating to increase their demands, invite further demands or even escalate the violence. All the same negotiation must never be left out since it can act as an avenue to prevent further future violence.

A good negotiation process should be followed in order to achieve desirable results. First there is need to identify the need for negotiation. Some agenda should be established and the correct people to be involved in the talks. Their roles and responsibilities must be well laid out.  Much information must be obtained before the negotiations begin. Once this is done, a proper venue to conduct the talks should be identified.

Conceptualization is the second stage in negotiation. This is where each party is allowed ample time to explain what they want. Goals and objectives of the parties are identified and from this a solution is arrived at. Possible options are identified and a consensus id discussed by the involved parties. Settling the details is the third step. Here, implementation of the solutions is emphasized. The problems of implementation are discussed to make the implementation more realistic. Management and technical teams are used here to provide the necessary skills. The agreement is also put in writing at this stage.

Following up is the final step in negotiation. Signing a document does not necessary mean that the deal has been accomplished. There is need to ensure that the implementation is actually done. If the above phases of negotiation are efficient, then positive results will be manifested and the terrorists will not go ahead with their planned plans of terrorizing.

In order to arrive at a consensus, the negotiator should possess certain qualities. He should have good listening skills for him to understand each party’s grievances. It is also important to respect other people’s feelings for example, admit that you understand that the party was hurt and that they had a reason to react. When making the decision it is advisable to be fair to both parties. That is why a mediator should be a neutral person who does not take sides. The mediator should also have the ability to compromise and in fact this is his main role. He should come up with a solution but he should first ask the opposing parties whether they have a solution to their disputes. With the above mention qualities, negotiation will definitely be successful.

Negotiation however good should not be the tactic to use when it comes to fighting terrorism. The consensus arrived at during the negotiation would affect the future relations which could disagree with the decision. It is advisable not to accommodate terrorist groups as they threaten innocent lives for their personal gains. In conclusion, talking to terrorist does not always help since some people are hard to convince and are so much committed to accomplish their mission. However, negotiation should be the first option as a solution to solve a dispute. This is a very vital step as many negotiations have collapsed at this stage.

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