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Keywords: terrorism , dialogue , war , asymmetric conflict , Al-Qaeda.

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The article discusses dialogue as an alternative to the “war on terror”, by posing a question which kind of dialogue is useful in the context of asymmetric conflict, such as the “war on terrorism” that currently dominates on the global scene. Taking into account thatthe “war on terror” is far from being a success, two models of communication are presented: 1) dialogue or negotiations between high-ranking political and military officers; and 2) open meetings and symmetric dialogues between all stakeholders in a conflict, includingextremists.The effects of these two models are discussed in elucidation of three empirical examples of asymmetric conflict: Northern Ireland, Iraq after the US invasion in 2003 andthe US/West vs. Taliban/Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan/Pakistan. The article argues that in the two former cases, mediation and negotiations probably preceded the change of attitude among the belligerents, especially those of the rebel groups using terror tactics. However,in the third case, there is hardly any indication that Jihadists will participate in a genuine dialogue. Consequently, a revised or third model of dialogue has to take the following question into consideration: Can genuine dialogue take place between people who arewidely different not only in terms of power and relation to the conflict, but also in attitude towards dialogue itself? The paper presents a third model for dialogue that embeds symmetric dialogues in a wider structure of dispute and dialogue.


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