If we look in the past or even in the current situation no state has ever been a threat towards national and international security. On the other hand, despite their disregard for international security, peace cooperation and recognition some non-states forces have began exhibiting state like characteristics.
Today non-states can easily receive financial aids from external nations. The military wings of these non-states do not move from the area of conflict; instead they create conflicts right from their homes to controlled areas and then to areas where they desire to control.
For some Hezbollah is a terrorist organization for others Hezbollah is a party. The fact is that Hezbollah is a social, political, and military non-state actor that has national importance, working structure and governing capability.
Contrary to the state funded troops, these non-state military wings attain extensive funds, financial and technical assistance from offshore accounts and untraceable bogus organizations. Arrangements like these allow the military wings to continue their fights without any external or third front opinions. However considering the situation today, military wings have started rotating combat troops to areas of conflict through interstate support and ties.
Short term deployment works as a camouflage for the military wings as they assist other non-state organization and the opponent nations doesn’t get to know. Thus Non State actors sustain in a region more and attain the power, communications, financial aid and weapons to start a war with the host nation.
There is no definition that can accurately describe the definition of non-state actors (NSAs). However objectively looking, an NSA is defined an organised group that has a command structure, operating outside state and using forces to achieve politically or making an allegedly political approach. Some factors include ‘rebel groups’ and some anti government factors which may or may not be recognised as a state.
However ICRC states “Although it is clear that all parties to non-international armed conflict are legally bound by IHL, armed groups cannot ratify or formally become party to IHL treaties; only States can do so. As a result, armed groups may consider themselves technically not bound by the international obligations specified in treaty law.” ICRC is a leading organization that monitors movement of state actors worldwide. International Humanitarian Law is applicable only in situations with smaller factions and short armed conflicts. Human Rights are violated at all times hence there should be a debate as to what extent should it be applicable on long terms conflicts.
A pre-emptive strategy is required to tackle the issue of increasing non-state actors, as it is absolutely necessary for these non-state actors to be eliminated right before their maturation.
Emerging Non State Actors
Threats in Middle East
For some Hezbollah is a terrorist organization for others Hezbollah is a party. The fact is that Hezbollah is a social, political, and military non-state actor that has national importance, working structure and governing capability. Americans would however remember the other side of Hezbollah whose agents were seen driving “a truck bomb right into the U.S. Marine Corp’s barracks in Beirut of 1983, killing 241 soldiers and injuring many more. It is not wrong to say that “Since then, the attack of 1983, Hezbollah has become more mature”.
In 2006, after 24 years of its formation, “Hezbollah became a self sustaining virtual state in the southern part of Lebanon.” Hezbollah had 14 elected representatives in the 128 seat Lebanese parliament, including two major cabinet posts. They ran schools and hospitals, and secretly smuggled weapons and ammunition including 14,000 rounds of rocket propelled grenades to pound on Israel with the help of its Iranian partner. Major Bradley Cooper, a former marine turned diplomat estimates Hezbollah to receive around $33 million pounds of financial aid yearly from Iran. Iranians major assistance to the organization have geared them socially, economically along with military ambitions making them a perfect example for other Islamic movements in the world. With the Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 many nations saw “Hezbollah as a major cause for Israeli defeat” and many “Middle East Analysts hailed Hezbollah for becoming the Arab military organization to successfully defeat Israel.” This success has inspired many military organizations in the world such as HAMAS in Palestine to Muqtada al Sadr’s Madhi Army in Iraq.
Asian Non State Threats
Abu Sayyaf Group comprises of a lower category of military and politico impression as compared to Hezbollah, this Asian non-state actor is considered a major threat throughout the Republic of Philippines. Not long ago, Pilipino police apprehended 16 Abu Sayyaf agents. These agents were apprehended along with tons of reading materials on Biological warfare. David Matthew a security affairs analyst for The Diplomat considers Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a growing Al Qaeda extremist wing in the South Asia as the second Asian non state threat that exhibits characteristics of a nation.
Around the World
In recent years non-state activities were seen in parts of South America and Africa. J.Richards reports growing Hezbollah’s presence in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, and recently Venezuela. He explains, “They [Hezbollah] are the ones behind increasing militant activities in Argentina and actively promoting Islamic fanaticism.” “The reason behind their presence in Venezuela is to create psychological pressure and to let the third front nations know they are there” and to counter balance the nation of western culture. He thinks that this sudden appearance of Hezbollah in Venezuela is because of an “unidentified liaison between Hugo Chávez and former president Ahmadinejad.”
As great powers too can’t defeat the increasing power of non-state actors thus at some point small organizations will get their hands on nuclear material and they will not hesitate to use it…
It is not new that non-state actors are developing themselves against their host nations, within their host nations in Africa. The increasing oil and gas industries in Nigeria makes the task for non-state actors easy as their primary source of funds are sanctified enabling them to connect with major extremist organizations such as Al Qaeda. A pre-emptive strategy is required to tackle the issue of increasing non-state actors, as it is absolutely necessary for these non-state actors to be eliminated right before their maturation.
Growing Non State Networks
In this era of globalisation the most salient threat to security and peace comes from self sustained and strong network organizations such as the Al Qaeda and its followers. These state less organizations can only be battled by neutralising each and every one of its members, since organizations like these are certain to annihilate everyone. As great powers too can’t defeat the increasing power of non-state actors thus at some point small organizations will get their hands on nuclear material and they will not hesitate to use it against a strong nation certainly like the United States. This has become one of the greatest threats post Cold War hence great powers should come together devote their resources and counter it.
It is more likely that non-state actors like Al Qaeda could attack great power nations as they neither share the boundaries nor are they attached to any territory and depend less on state approval. Contrary to governments, non-state networks do not bother themselves with maintaining infrastructure, protecting civilians, managing economy or international relations. They depend heavily on black market trade, smuggling illicit weapons from military depots and industrial base rather than international trade. With a different perspective than guerrilla rebels they attack the interested parties of the great nations and do not harbour near the enemy territory. They fully exploit all the medium of communication specially the internet and use this space to communicate, strategize, and spread ideology.
As non-state actors do not burden themselves in governing the expanded territories, the costs for attacking a powerful state is lower than the ones of the state.
As non-state actors do not burden themselves in governing the expanded territories, the costs for attacking a powerful state is lower than the ones of the state. For example, to attack the targets in New York or Mumbai, Al Qaeda has to take fewer risks as compared to any state. Contrary to the leader of North Korea Kim Jong II, Al Qaeda’s supreme commander Osama Bin Laden never ruled a nation hence had hardly anything to lose in retaliation. Recalling the statement made by Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld during his debate on America’s response to 9/11; he said – “there were no decent targets for bombing in Afghanistan.” Hence comparing to the territorial nations, non state actors have “a greater ability” to attack other great powers as they don’t have to burden themselves with international or national security.
This clearly means the concept of deterrence breaks down during asymmetric conflicts against the non-state actors. The principle of deterrence is very simple (if you do Z, then I will destroy your cities), on the contrary growing security is making threats more credible. These networks are in no manner associated to the boundaries or the state hence facing retaliation doesn’t affects them. They are well aware that the host nation is enemy number 1 and they will do anything to stop their attacks.
Any violence conducted against any Muslim in the world, harmed in anyway, non state actors such as Al Qaeda manipulates and narrates as if the US is imminently launching an attack on all Muslims. It will not be wrong to say that deterrence acts as a major centrepiece of strategies for symmetric conflicts, the logic acts as a counterproductive response in modern asymmetric warfare.
Unable to rely on deterrence the nuclear power faces a grave danger specially relying more on technological advancements. “Tactically,” says General Lehmann, “financial markets to transportation systems to electric power grids, standards of living worldwide depend fundamentally on integrated technical systems that are susceptible to idiosyncratic threats”, he adds. These systems are the most vulnerable to an attack, and this will fuel more fear, thus the openness of the modern nations allow the terrorist to exploit asymmetric information and ability to sabotage.
Using the internet properly, these actors increase their reach and attain transnational level as they spread.
The internet acts as a visual information medium, more knowledge or economic day today activity and undenied access for cyber terrorism. This vast amount of dependency exhibits the nation from performing freely and they have to protect a large amount of resources at once, creating a possibility of major or multiple attacks by networks of non state actors, which are neither present in the region nor nearby. The 9/11 is a perfect example. They infiltrated the US, waited and patiently prepared for years, and then turned the American planes into guided missiles. Capt. Jaime Richards points, “a small number of men killed 3,000 people and destroyed a huge portion of prime commercial real estate, part of the military’s national nerve center, and four expensive aircraft. The ripple effects, however, multiplied those costs.” This clearly explains the economic and physiological developments of non-state actors as it not only declared war on a great nation but it provoke the nation for “war on terror,” clearly explains the mentality of fourth generation extremism.
Comparing Al Qaeda with Vietcong or Mujahedeen, they are in awe of military power and also they lack tactical and logistical support but still they were able to attack a great power. A fatwa issued in 1996 stated “the Zionist Crusader alliance,” bin Laden warned his followers against a growing power and declared the US and their allies “infidels of Allah” asking for necessary response against western aggression. Bin Laden saw the American power coming and hence declared the US a major threat to dealt with. Thus, analyst Deepak Verma points out, “American global primacy is one of the causes of this war,” motivating al Qaeda’s purposes and “choice of tactics.”
With the increasing modernisation of technology the global jihadist let its members operate freely and improvise with the situation. As the definition suggests these organizations enjoy advantages instead of confronting each other. Their opponents on the contrary have to ensure structural and political incentives that make them vulnerable. Using the internet properly, these state actors increase their reach and attain transnational level as they spread. They use the internet to spread their message and focuses on one to one interaction. Telephones allow the boundary free communication but it does not deliver information transfer; Fax machines on the other hand transfer information but only for a small time. The internet focuses on the information transfer increasing an average user knowledge and awareness. While telephones tends to keep people nearer, but the internet connect strangers across nations, separated by land, to connect chat and share together. This alters the manner how humans share and consume time.
Well pointed by former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer “use of the internet is essential to al Qaeda’s expansion into a global movement”. Through the internet the Islamist organizations, prepare attacks, communicate, strategise and train new recruits.