Hudna

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Hudna is an Arabic word sometimes translated as "peace", but is more correctly as "cease-fire" or "temporary truce." A hudna is limited in time or events, but is renewable. [1] It has the implication that it is advantageous to Muslims, although it may also benefit other parties.[2] The name derives from a treaty in force between 628 and 630, written in the town of al-Hudaybiyya, on the border of Mecca.

The concept is quite contemporary, as it appears in the policies of some radical Islamist groups, or factions thereof. Of particular note, there is a factional split in Hamas, where the original charter called for the total destruction of the State of Israel. While no significant part of Hamas calls for permanent peace with Israel, there is a current argument, by a major faction, for establishing renewable hudna. Unquestionably, hudna is not peace, but it may be a distortion to say that all of Hamas calls for the extinction of Israel. There is no peace between the two Koreas, but a ragged cease-fire that is contained by mutual deterrence.

Hudna has been likened to more recent concepts in international relations. Ian Shapiro, in his book Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy Against Global Terror, argues that terrorists are not necessarily nihilists, may accept a long-term strategic dynamic such as the containment policy of George Kennan, and cites both hudna and the ceasefires of the African National Congress as examples.[3] Kennan, in the "Long Telegram" leading to the containment policy, argued that the Soviets would avoid major confrontation because their ideology assured them of triumph in the long term; Hamas also may want to preserve itself in the interest of future victory.

Writing in the New Yorker, David Remnick observes that the main Hamas leaders, Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyehin Gaza, and Musa Abu-Marzuq and Khaled Mashel in Damascus have never denied responsibility for attacks, but also operate on a political level
Their public language attempts to yoke contradictory goals. Like the leaders of the I.R.A. decades ago, they are trying to enter the realm of politics without relinquishing the perquisites of armed resistance and the purity of ideological rejectionism. They want to maintain the support of their most radical fighters without losing the funding of the European Union. They hint at the possibility of a hudna—a prolonged truce—if Israel retreats to the borders that existed before the Six-Day War, but they also reserve the “historical” goal of absolute dominion made plain in their charter. [4]

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