The Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia


Colombia is a country fragmented by tropical forests, mountain ranges, and poor infrastructure. It is also characterized by a tradition of insurrections and armed revolts against the government. The elements have provided fertile grounds for the growth of guerrilla groups in the country. Guerilla warfare is one of the most prevalent armed conflicts since colonial days. The patterns of the current conflict were set in motion after the assassination of Jorge Gaitan. The liberal party leader was assassinated in 1946. The conflict escalated after the conservative party won the elections held in 1949. The Liberal Party boycotted these elections (Holmes et al. 26). However, both parties mobilized their armed supporters in an undeclared civil war after the polls. The war has led to the death of more than 200,000 persons.

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The aim of this paper is to explore the historical attempts taken by governments and other stakeholders to deal with extremist ideologies from non-state actors. In addition, the author will explore the lessons learnt from such undertakings. Application of these lessons to defeat the Daesh ideology will be analyzed. Finally, the implications of these undertakings on the UAE’s foreign policy will be investigated. To achieve these objectives, the author will use the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a case study.

The Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia: A Historical Background

An Overview

Between 1950 and 1958, the country was faced with increasingly organized violence. The violence was attributed to the establishment of self-defense bandit-like armed groups. The groups were formed as a result of partisan disputes fuelled by politics. However, some violent conflicts were the result of family vendettas and disagreements over land use. Others emanated from fights over access to water and the control of the coffee cash crop. The value of Colombian coffee had dramatically increased in the mid-1950s (Leech 23). Other groups were formed and organized with a political agenda. Such groups agitated for better wages and rural land reforms.

All these conflicts led to the formation of revolutionary guerrillas. A significant political development took place in 1958. It involved the adoption of the National Front Agreement (Tellidis and Toros 72). A major component of the treaty was an agreement between the liberal and conservative parties. The sides agreed on a revolving formula with regards to the country’s presidency. The principal objective, however, was to reduce the violence (Tellidis and Toros 72).

The Formation of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia

According to Leech, FARC is one of the strongest non-state groups in Colombia (27). It evolved out of the loosely organized revolutionary guerilla groups and bandits that were still active in the era of the National Front Agreement (Leech 27). It is a fact that these small groups that formed the rural resistance had existed in the 1950s. However, the formal creation of FARC can be traced to the emergence of a guerilla group called The Southern Guerilla Bloc. The bloc was formed in 1964 (Leech 32). According to Rosen, the activities of the group were mainly concentrated in the southern provinces (42).

The organization of the Southern Bloc buttressed the link between the Colombian Communist Party (CCP) and the bandit groups (Tellidis and Toros 84). The party offered political and financial support to the groups operating in the southern parts of the country. On its part, the group provided the field infrastructure through which the guerilla activities were to take place. Pedraja observes that The Southern Guerilla Bloc officially became FARC when it made a declaration in Moscow (45). The declaration was made in mid-1966 (Tellidis and Toros 85). The announcement claimed that the US had built military installations in Colombia. To this end, the declaration called to the Colombian peasants and workers to support the activities and struggles championed by the guerilla group (Rosen 54).

According to Ospina, the FARC group was officially launched between 1962 and 1966 (4). During the launch, some links between the Communist Party and the guerilla groups eventually evolved to FARC (Ospina 43). During this period, the violence had undergone two significant changes. For example, the violence took a more organized approach. It was also oriented towards specific political and military goals. Ross and Rein opine that these changes were influenced by the Communist Party’s determination to coordinate, tutor, and patronize the operations of the guerillas (16). The government, on the other hand, changed its traditional view towards the actors in the violence. It adopted a new military strategy in an effort to stop the violence.

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The major objective of the Communist Party was to bring on board the non-Communist guerilla entities. It is noted that the violence was viewed as being associated with the fights and disagreements between the liberal and conservative parties. However, the pervasive belief that the social problems would escalate to a revolution made the bandits symptomatic to the explosion of the rebellion (Pulido 32). The Communist Party in Columbia had envisaged a revolution in Colombia that will follow patterns similar to those evidenced in Cuba a few years before. Consequently, the party provided support to the guerilla groups. It also paved the way for the creation of the FARC (Pulido 34). The guerilla group was to be an arm of the Communist Party.

Objectives of the Armed Revolutionary Forces in Colombia

The reasons behind the formation of FARC, a rebel group, can be directly linked to communism in Colombia. According to Pulido, the group was initially formed to act as the military arm of the Colombia Communist Party (22). However, things have changed since its formation. It has since been declared a terror organization by the Colombian government. Other governments around the world also treat the group as a terrorist organization. For instance, the US government has classified FARC as a terrorist group.

The 1940s in Latin America are referred to as the La Violencia. During the period, more than 200,000 Colombians were killed (Pulido 25). The citizens died as a result of the fights between the extremist groups and the government. During the same period, the Colombian Liberal Party lost control of the violence. In addition, the military, led by General Gustavo Rojas, took over power in the country. The military assumed power in 1953 (Holmes et al. 34).

The new leader extended an amnesty to the fighting groups. However, the amnesty could only apply on condition that the groups put down their guns and cease all forms of violence against the government and the civilians. It is noted that some groups took up the offer. However, others resisted the placations. Most of those organizations that continued to rebel against the government were the communist leaning groups. Holmes et al. observes that the Colombian Communist Party supported many guerilla groups across the country (26). As a result, analysts and historians conclude that the initial objective behind the formation of FARC was to fight the government of General Rojas. Another objective was to fight other groups that sought to take control of Colombia.

Civilian rule in the country was regained in the late 1950s (Holmes et al. 34). However, the Colombian Communist Party was consolidating its gains in various parts of the country. The regions where the communist party had support included the provinces of Sumpaz and Marquetalla (Holmes et al. 34). In 1964, the government took drastic actions against the organizations. To this end, the government decided to avert the growth of the communist influence by launching a military operation against the terrorists. The communist guerilla groups fought back.

Another major goal of the FARC is to fight for the rights of the rural poor in the nation. According to its leaders, the group was formed to fight against the exploitation and oppression of the poor people in the rural areas. It is also noted that FARC has issues with the US government. The US government is accused of interference in internal Colombian affairs. It is also accused of conniving with the Colombian government to exploit the country’s natural resources (Pulido 19).

The guerilla group managed to survive the government onslaught into the 1980s. However, it was not a cohesive or homogenous organization. On the contrary, there were internal frictions and formation of various splinter groups (Pulido 23). Pulido indicates that the organization was initially formed to fight the government (23). However, many observers and critics are of the opinion that the group has gone beyond the purported ideology (Pulido 23). One of the major reasons cited by the critics is the involvement of the organization in illegal drug trade. In the 1980s, the organization started the Patriotic Union Party. However, it did not relinquish its ties with the Colombian Communist Party (Holmes et al. 39).

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A closer analysis of the operations of FARC in the 1990s indicates that the organization was following a strategic plan. The plan was designed during the group’s Seventh Conference. According to Paterson, the conference took place in 1982 (31). In 1992, the organization’s leadership claimed that its military operations had pushed the struggles to a new level. It was announced that the government had been forced to engage in negotiations.

The move was a major boost to the morale of the group’s file and rank. Critics and observers, however, view the strategic objectives of FARC as the desire to consolidate its control in the coca-growing provinces. The organization is mainly focusing its activities on the southern part of Colombia. The control over the drug trade has enabled the group to build its military capabilities. It has also helped it to expand its operations and networks to other areas (Paterson 33).

The second strategic objective of the group was to expand the operation theater to the whole country. To this end, the major mission was to prompt the government to disperse the military forces working against the progress of the organization. As a result, the government’s ability to retain a military initiative has been hampered (Martin 46). Currently, the group is engaging the government in many fronts. At the same time, the organization has sought to expand into economically endowed regions. To achieve these objectives, the group took control of a number of corridors.

The corridors linked the organization’s base to the Pacific Ocean and other neighboring countries, such as Venezuela (Martin 49). The access to these regions would allow for the rapid deployment of troops, armory, and other supplies across Colombia and the entire region.

The most important Operations of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia

One of the most successful operations by FARC involved the establishment of the front. The front was a geographical command center that was established between Colombian provincial and departmental boundaries. The major aim of this establishment was to take advantage of the administrative activities of the decentralized government (Tellidis and Toros 63). To this end, the FARC is operating in line with the Marxist manifesto.

The plan involved putting in place infiltration networks to penetrate local towns. It was described as the Public Order Commission. The network brought on board armed guerillas who sought to gain the sympathy of the general public. To appeal to the emotions of the locals, the groups instituted the FARC’s version of law and order (Rosen 61). It involved taking action against local criminals. The tactic helped the guerillas amass influence and control in small towns and villages. It was a major achievement towards the expansion of the group’s logistical base.

It was during this period that the organization held what was dubbed the 5th Conference (Rosen 8). The major objective of the conference was to create a general organizational structure. The structure involved recruitment of members of staff, expansion of financing networks, and establishment of rules and regulations to govern the operations of the group (Rosen 88). The High Command, best known as the Seven Members Secretariat, was established during the conference. In addition, there was the creation of a standard front organization. Marulanda and Arenas were put in charge of this proxy entity (Tellidis and Toros 65).

The fronts were charged with the responsibility of establishing combat units, intelligence commissions, and financial networks. They were also expected to maintain public order, oversee logistics, and carry out mass work. The conference also worked out the techniques to be used in identifying the targets for kidnapping and extortion. The procedures followed in carrying out these activities were business-like. The operations of the group were buttressed by various forms of coercion. The strategy was largely successful in raising money for the group’s operations and expansion (Rosen 66). Some of the ransom money received from the kidnapping operations was more than one million dollars per case. Most of the kidnapping victims were diplomats and wealthy cattle farmers operating in the country.

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According to Otis, the second successful operation involved the control of the drug trade in the region (4). In order to source for funds meant to finance its expansion, the leadership of the organization turned to the taxation of drugs. The tax regime was put in place in 1982 (Otis 4). The taxes were paid by the producers and smugglers of these illegal drugs (Otis 6). The group started levying a 10% fee per kilogram of the coca base. The base is raw cocaine produced from the coca leaves. It is later turned into a powder in jungle laboratories. The group also taxed cannabis sativa and opium latex. The latter is produced from poppies (Otis 6). The latex is the raw material involved in the production of heroin. Another source of tax revenue was drug flights from the areas controlled by the guerrillas.

According to Pedraja, the FARC leadership has defended its promotion of coca cultivation and the subsequent taxation of the coca farmers in the region (43). It argues that the protection fee charged on these business persons on the ground is justified considering that the peasant farmers do not have an alternative means of making a living (Otis 5). The group argues that it is not involved in drug trafficking per se. The position of the guerilla outfit is that it is an army that is fighting to bring change to the country. Its major objective, according to the propaganda machinery, is to improve the welfare of the country’s poor population. They argue that the government has neglected these people for a long time. As such, the organization is working to right the historical injustices committed against these people.

The 1990s saw a break-up between the Cali and the Medellin cartels. The breakup led to the formation of less powerful and smaller cartels. The formations sought the protection of the already established FARC. The established organization could provide protection and logistics to support the smuggling activities of these smaller cartels (Otis 8). Ross and Rein claim that at around the time the small cartels were seeking protection from FARC, the Peruvian military started to shoot down the drug planes (57). The military was targeting the planes that were transporting the coca paste from Peru and Bolivia for processing at the Colombian jungle laboratories (Ross and Rein 57).

The result of these military operations was a shift on the part of the cartels to the south Colombian provinces. The southern region had little government presence. As a result, the FARC held sway in these parts of the country. Consequently, the cocaine production area rose from several thousand acres to more than 400,000 acres by 2000 (Fleischman 15). The land under the coca crop had the capacity of producing more than 680 tons of the drugs. The control of the coca fields was instrumental in helping the FARC consolidate its control over the peasant farmers. In addition, it helped the organization to widen the group’s social base (Ross and Rein 65).

To this end, a link can be drawn between the operations of FARC and proliferation of illegal drugs in Columbia and other countries around the world. The proliferation is regardless of the fact that the initial objectives of the group were military in nature. However, along the way, the group’s leadership realized that the drug trade is more profitable than the military excursions. As such, one can argue that the military operations of the group are meant as a cover to protect the major objective of the entity, which revolves around trade in illegal drugs (Ross and Rein 65).

On the war front, the FARC launched a series of successful attacks against government and civilian targets in the 1990s. The aggression forced the government to consider entering into a peace deal with the group. The attacks included small scale offensives in 1995. The group also engaged in the disruption of the 1998 presidential elections (Fleischman 16). In addition, it escalated the kidnapping and extortion operations within the country and the larger region.

The group, in what can only be described as a daredevil move, also attacked the counternarcotics headquarters. The headquarters were based in Miraflores (Otis 5). However, the largest attack to be recorded took place against the Vaupes Department. The department was the provincial capital of Mitu. It is a fact that Mitu was smaller than other provincial cities that could have been targeted by the terrorists. However, the town was significant at the national level. The reason is that it represented the decay and deterioration of the Colombian government. As such, the attack served a more symbolic objective for the group’s administration.

The assault described above was carried out by more than 1,000 armed insurgents (Otis 6). The guerillas engaged the government forces for more than 14 hours. At the end of the campaign, the insurgents were able to seize the town. It took the Colombian armed forces three days to recapture the city from the guerillas. The attack forced President Pastrana to give the FARC a demilitarized zone. The concession was one of the various preconditions for peace talks between the warring parties. Conceding the demilitarized zone was a risk taken by the government. The zone was a safe area within which FARC could regroup, train, and engage in the production of drugs. In addition, the group used the area to conduct their military exercises. It afforded the organization a complete autonomy in a safe territory (Fleischman 22).

The Current Situation of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia

The decision by President Santos to start a negotiation process for the demobilization of the guerilla groups stems from a strategic logic. The logic is viewed by political observers as being different from previous efforts on peace talks in Colombia (Paterson 6). The current negotiations with FARC are different from the others because the current government is in a stronger and better position, politically and strategically, compared to the FARC group (Ross 12).

However, it is observed that a series of factors have played a part in strengthening the legitimacy of the country’s institutions. To start with, the popular support of the Colombian 1991 Constitution has marginalized the people who had denied the democratization of the country’s political system (Ross 15). In addition, the active participation of the left-leaning political organizations in the political process has demonstrated that there are opportunities for those in the opposition (Fleischman 23).

For example, since 2004, the Mayor of Bogotá has been elected from the leftist political parties. Furthermore, the government’s support for the reparation efforts, the restitution of land, and the concerted efforts in the fight against poverty demonstrates that the Santos regime is committed to the reduction of the socio-economic conditions that relentlessly fed the violence (Campbell and Weitz 34). As a result, a scenario has been constructed that delegitimizes the organizations that seek to justify violence as a means of achieving their political objectives.

On the other hand, the government has substantially strengthened the economy and the military. For instance, the police and military forces have significantly grown from 287,000 armed officers to 440,000 strong defense forces today (Paterson 9). The military force has also undergone tremendous modernization. The modernization has seen the broadening of the government’s intelligence, special operation capabilities, and air support (Ospina 6). The steady growth of the GDP as a result of the export of oil has availed substantial funds to finance security operations and boost the consolidation of state institutions in most of the remote provinces.

Ospina also observes that the government’s resurgent legitimacy is in stark contrast to the diminishing appeal of the guerilla movements in the public domain (67). It is also against the organization for political isolation (Ospina 67). For instance, the systematic use of violence, terrorism, and kidnapping has turned the organization into an unpopular entity. It is also paradoxical that the rejection is particularly strong among the rural dwellers.

It is observed that the organization has always claimed that it is fighting for the emancipation of the rural population (Campbell and Weitz 36). On the international scene, the stature of the FARC group has been destroyed since it was branded a terrorist group by the US government (Leech 56). The seizure of information in 2008 during an attack against the camp of Raul Reyes, the FARC leader, further undermined the organization’s relationship with other entities in South America and Europe (Leech 58). Consequently, the group’s international connections have been reduced to associations with Venezuela and Cuba.

The FARC is currently engaged in negotiations whose conditions are dictated by factors that give the discussions different characteristics from previous efforts. The government and the people of Colombia are convinced that the dialogue could be the last chance for FARC to lay down arms through a negotiated process (Paterson 67). The negotiations have been preceded by three other attempts. During the previous negotiations, the group used the engagement to strengthen its military capabilities (Ospina 78).

The organization also never indicated that it would abandon the use of violence. As such, the current negotiations have been initiated as a last generous gesture by the Colombian citizenry towards an organization that has used violence for slightly over a century (Leech 78).

The FARC forces that do not accept the negotiated agreement will lose the capacity to interact with the government. Most probably, they will be subjected to military action. The negotiations can also be seen as an inexpensive way, both in human and economic terms, of ending the callous violence that has been perpetuated by the guerilla organization. There is also the awareness that the option of defeating the group through military action, should the negotiations fail, still remains (Ospina 83).

However, even as the negotiations continue, the military efforts against the FARC guerilla warfare will be maintained. It means that there will be no ceasefire within the national territory. The position is aimed at achieving two objectives. First, it guarantees that the talks will not cause any setbacks in the security situation. The military actions will also maintain enough pressure on the group as a way of forcing the leadership to accept the conditions given for its disarmament and demobilization (Paterson 9).

The conditions are aimed at preventing the group from extending the negotiations indefinitely, something that has happened before. The peace talks, moreover, are different from the other three attempts. The other attempts include the one by Bentancur’s regime in 1984. The negotiations reached an agreement involving a ceasefire between the government and the organization. There was also the 1998-2002 Pastrana administration process.

The administration had agreed to a demilitarized zone during the negotiations (Otis 15). In the two instances, the FARC group was the major beneficially of the concessions. The two concessions allowed the organization to build its military capabilities. The military buildup made the group stronger than the government. The situation made it difficult for the government to attain the objective of demobilization of the guerilla group (Otis 17).

Another factor is the setting of a limited agenda. The peace talk agenda, as agreed on during the preliminary talks between the FARC and the government, deals with five issues only. Two of the issues deal with traditional demands, which include land reforms and political participation (Paterson 5). The rest relate to disarmament, the dismantling of the group’s armed apparatus, and the fight against drug traffickers. It is observed that the peace talks excluded any discussions on changes to the Colombian political and economic models.

The Best Methods Used In Countering the Movement

The key to understanding the counter insurgency or the fight against extremist groups and insurgents is through the views of the revolutionary itself. The central precepts that unify the many strands of insurgency warfare are the theory that political victory is the ultimate objective. The insurgency is less concerned with military victory (Campbell and Weitz 42). The traditional warfare emphasizes on superior fire power.

However, insurgency or guerilla approach is characterized by the formation of small and mobile units that avoid direct engagement and confrontation with the better equipped state forces. Campbell and Weitz further observe that the success of the weaker non-state actors is determined by the deployment strategies aimed at prolonging the conflict (45). The tactics employed by the non-state actors in national conflicts are characterized by hit-and-run operations.

The insurgents would often retreat into the countryside or in the jungle after carrying out a surprising attack against their opponents. In addition, as Paterson opines, the guerilla’s relationship with the rural civilian population is of particular significance (55). The civilians are a source of intelligence. They also offer shelter, supply food, and provide the necessary political support needed to overthrow the incumbent regime. Consequently, the disruption and severing of the linkage between the guerillas and the civilian support is a significant factor in the fight against non-state actors (Paterson 10).

In military parlance, the severing of the links with civilian is called clear-and-hold tactic. The strategy is different from the search-and-destroy tactic. It involves clearing an area of the insurgent influence and stationing government troops within the rural location (Fleischman 56). The troops can then rely on the civilians to provide intelligence with regards to the guerillas’ operations. The clear-and-hold approach seeks to curtail the group’s political base. On its part, the search-and-destroy strategy focuses on the basic military manifestation of the non-state actors. The Colombian state, however, has always relied on the search-and-destroy strategy. The approach has achieved average success.

The Colombian government has never been in control of the country’s territory. The heart of the country is represented by the Magdeline River Valley. There are also the major cities of Bogota, Cali, and Medellin (Fleischman 61). A large percentage of the country’s population lives in these areas. The areas are isolated from the rural countryside by the Andes Mountain on both sides. Beyond the heartland are plains, jungles, and mountains. The regions are uninhabited and have limited infrastructure.

The conditions that make the Colombian hinterland uninhabitable also present a logistical challenge in projecting government power. They also make the deployment of military forces unsustainable. Consequently, the military operations that have been launched in these areas have never established the necessary security conditions that would allow for effective law enforcement on a large scale (Holmes et al. 56). It is observed that the Colombian government is, to a large extent, absent from the hinterland. The consequence is huge economic inequalities. The situation has given rise to insurgent groups, such as the FARC.

The hinterland is rich of extractive resources. The resources include oil, precious stones, gold, and rare earth. It is also a fertile ground for marijuana, opium poppies, and coca. Such wealth makes the region the center for competition between the insurgent groups and the state (Fleischman 65). The Colombian government has always been determined to secure the regions irrespective of its limitations. According to Holmes et al., the state does not have the resources required to adequately deal with the underlying issues of inequality and lack of development (61). As such, destroying the guerilla groups has been an uphill task that is almost impossible. Given such a scenario, the state has opted to concentrate on the inhibition of the group’s ability to operate. The government has also sought ways to improve the livelihoods of the countryside inhabitants.

Colombia has been plagued by conflicts since its independence in 1819. The last five decades have shifted the focus of the conflict to the communist insurgence. In recent years, the conflict has been fuelled by the trade in narcotics. The plans of successive regimes to deal with the guerillas evolve from previous attempts. However, from the late 1990s, the Colombian strategies adopted by the government have been mostly informed by the counterinsurgency approaches and doctrines used in the US (Campbell and Weitz 46).

Plan Patriota

In 2003, with financial support from the US, the Colombian government implemented a strategy to deal with the guerillas. The approach was dubbed Plan Patriota or the Plan Patriot. Uribe, the President, was convinced that if the state was to defeat the FARC guerilla group, it needed to take the war to the insurgents (Martin 61). Under Plan Patriota, the government’s military forces started to target the high-value insurgent leaders. The leaders were eliminated, forcing the group to move out of its strongholds (Martin 65). As a result, the control of the regions reverted to the civilian government. Alongside the plan, the government overhauled its military leadership. The aim was to get rid of military leaders who may have been compromised by FARC (Martin 65).

The implementation of Plan Patriota was consistent. Information was collected on the location of the guerilla bases. The next phase of the operation included bombing the identified targets to soften the insurgent’s defenses. The aim was to disorient the fighters and kill as many guerillas as possible (Ospina 78). Thirdly, special operation forces combed through the targeted areas to kill and capture the remaining fighters and gather intelligence. Cell phones, computers, thumb drives, and other documents recovered during the operations proved to be of great value to the government (Fleischman 69). The information gathered was used to inform other incursions against the insurgent group.

The Plan Patriota was dubbed a success. It greatly diminished the insurgent group’s functionalities. For instance, in 2008, the number of killings carried out by the group reduced to 16,000. The figure stood at 30,000 in 2002. The FARC members were brought down from 17,000 to 9,000 (Fleischman 72). In addition, the insurgents were forced to abandon some of their camps. They had to establish new operational centers and alternative routes for coca trade (Fleischman 73). The successful execution of Plan Patriot can be viewed as having laid the foundation for other assaults, including Operation Espada de Honor (Fleischman 79).

Lessons Learned

The Uribe approach and strategy can be described as successful. It can also be viewed as sustainable. The approach got it right with regards to the conceptualization of the problem and response to the menace. The government has learnt that the search-and-destroy approach needs to be replaced with clear-and-hold tactics. It is also important to consolidate the regions that have been liberated from the grip of the FARC forces (Tellidis and Toros 89).

A significant lesson from the Uribe approach is that leadership matters. As the president, Uribe proved to be the right person at the right time. However, he is aware that winning a new term has its responsibilities. The responsibilities extend beyond the fight against the FARC. It will require a new strategy to deliver victory (Tellidis and Toros 92). Uribe has demonstrated a model of dynamic and skillful leadership. The lesson to be derived from this is that strong leadership is essential in fighting insurgency. However, the leadership needs the backing of a well-equipped military force. The military should be able to deal with the insurgent’s warfare strategies, which include mobile hit-and-run tactics.

The lesson learnt with regards to the fight against insurgency in other parts of the world is that a strong military force that is focused on taking on the insurgents is essential. The military tactics should be aimed at decimating the insurgency’s leadership. It should also focus on destabilizing the economic resources of the group. Finally, it should scatter the fighters from their traditional bases (Martin 68).

The second phase of the war is to secure the liberated land and protect the civilian population. The political focus should be aimed at dealing with grievances voiced by the local population. In most cases, the grievances are related to economic development. What the Uribe strategy has achieved is a clear demonstration of a political resolve to deal with the guerilla menace. The leader is aware that a military solution to the FARC menace may not be possible. As such, in the last few years, he has initiated a political process that involves peace talks aimed at the demobilization of the guerilla group (Ospina 98).

Common Aspects between the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Columbia and other Terrorist Groups

Terrorism was originally used to describe a systematic order of terror applied as a method of ruling reluctant people in the 18th century France. However, the terminology has evolved with time (Martin 92). Some pundits define this practice as the systematic exploitation of fear, violence, and other criminal activities. The aim is to achieve certain objectives that a terror organization may have laid out. Another approach is to define terrorism in relation to its organizational structures and agenda (Fleischman 78).

The US government views terrorism as a calculated application of violence and threats of violence. Such moves are aimed at instilling fear in order to intimidate societies or governments. The objectives are political, ideological, or religious in nature (Fleischman 79). However, many scholars view terrorism as a premeditated, deliberate, and systematic mayhem. It includes violence, murder, and threats visited upon an innocent citizenry. The objective of such terror is to gain political advantage and influence a certain audience (Ospina 102).

Terrorist groups share certain traits. To start with, terrorism is viewed as an extreme political manipulation. The explicit aim of the manipulation is to influence public policy. In most cases, terrorists commit acts of violence and terror with the aim of altering the public perceptions related to the legitimacy and effectiveness of a government (Elshelmani 82). A good example is the decades-old FARC guerilla group that has been fighting the Colombian government. The group, like other terrorist organizations, promotes fear through acts of extreme violence. Its objectives is to convince the population that the government cannot protect or provide for them (Ospina 106).

Criminal acts, including beheadings, bombings, and kidnappings are commonly used by terrorists to achieve their objectives. Consequently, the major objective of terrorism is to create widespread fear. It also aims at attracting media attention. Finally, terrorists fight to embarrass, harass, and weaken security forces. The overall intention is to make the security forces panic and overreact. As a consequence, the state machinery will appear oppressive (Elshelmani 9).

Another common characteristic of terrorist groups is the means used to get funds to finance their activities. The main sources of funds are criminal activities. The activities include kidnappings, smuggling, counterfeiting, extortion, and drugs (Elshelmani 82). For instance, FARC has a long history of kidnappings and extortions. In addition, the trade and taxation of narcotics has become a significant source of revenue in the recent past.

The Armed Revolutionary Forces of Columbia as a Case Study of New and Emerging Terrorist Movements

The ISIS or Daesh has been in existence for less than a decade. However, the destruction and violence it has visited on the people of Iraq and Syria mirrors that of FARC. In an insurgency situation, it is difficult to envisage that the two conflicting parties can possibly be involved in negotiations to end the conflict. However, according to Ross and Rein, the Colombian experience in the last three years proves that this is possible (99).

The Colombian government is involved in peace talks that are aimed at bringing the protracted war with the FARC to a definitive end. The two sides have signed what is described as a historic peace deal. The deal comes after decades of conflicts and three failed attempts at peace negotiations.

The thought of the Colombian government and the communist-leaning FARC arriving at some compromise could not have been envisaged a few years ago. But, as it happened in Northern Ireland, negotiating with individuals that had been branded as terrorists and callous murderers could be viewed as the only way of bringing lasting peace (Ospina 108). It can also be viewed as the only way to bring an end to the bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria. The FARC deal can be a lesson that can be applied to the Daesh conflict in the Middle East. It can be used in countries like the United Arab Emirates (Fromkin 8).

There are glaring differences between the objectives, tactics, and capabilities of the ISIS and FARC terrorist groups. However, there are significant similarities between the two. For instance, both are strong ideologically-based groups (Campbell and Weitz 68). The groups use simple messages to appeal, influence, and recruit the people who may feel disadvantaged. Another similarity is the control of territories. Both groups control vast territories. However, they rely heavily on guerilla techniques to hit at the better-armed governments. They also use the sabotage of national infrastructure as a key part of the war. Both groups get the revenue to fund their war efforts from exploiting the natural resources of the regions that they control (Pulido 60). For instance, ISIS has oil, while FARC has access to coca production.

The Colombian government has recognized that conventional military operations are ill-suited to a war against an opponent that can hit and disappear into the jungle. The ISIS is also a master of the guerilla war. They often choose a target and hardly engage in confrontational warfare. The Colombian government has also made efforts to establish common grounds on issues that have been high on the FARC agenda (Pulido 62).

The issues include income inequalities and land redistribution. Such approaches should also be adopted in the fight against ISIS. Just as the negotiations and peace talks with FARC have demonstrated, the bravado and hatred of a group’s stated objectives can soften when armed combat is deleted from the equation. Both the government and the rebel group have indicated that they are committed to the peace efforts (Fromkin 9).

Implications on the UAE Foreign Policy

The implication of the FARC action can be a significant lesson for the Daesh and its protagonists. It is possible that after endless conflicts and loss of many lives, the players in the ISIS conflict could one day reach out and seek a negotiated peace deal. The UAE is implementing strategies to address the threat of the growth of Islamism in the Gulf region through proxy wars. However, the government should also consider the FARC approach. The country is a significant state player in the fight against the ISIS. The declaration of the caliphate is diametrically and antithetical to the UAE’s vision of governance in the region (Campbell and Weitz 76).

As such, the government feels that stopping the growth of the Daesh is an integral part of the larger goal of eliminating the possibility of individuals joining the movement. It is also to be observed that the UAE occupies a central position as the leader of the coalition against the Daesh. The position is strategic because it allows the country to intercede directly. In line with the Colombian government approach, the UAE can encourage the state and non-state actors to consider negotiating for peace in the region. It may appear impossible given the hard-line positions taken by the protagonists. But as the Colombian government and the FARC have demonstrated, it can be done (Fromkin 10).

The UAE is involved in the war as a measure of self-preservation. The regime in the Arab Emirate is fighting against the threat posed by the ISIS. The UAE’s participation in the war against the Daesh is in line with its history of supporting the suppression of Islamic organizations in the region, especially the Muslim Brotherhood (Campbell and Weitz 72). Given the scenario, the leadership can open another front by calling for peace talks in an effort to reduce the violence that is being witnessed in Syria and Iraq even as the efforts to degrade the ISIS continue.


One of the major objectives behind the formation of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Columbia (FARC) was to isolate Bogota. Bogota is the nerve center of this Latin American country. In addition to the capital city, the organization sought to isolate other major towns in the country. The capital city is perched on a high ground. It depends on a few roads for communication and link to the external world. In most cases, these roads are targeted and severed by the FARC forces.

The aim of this strategy is to cut off the communication between Bogota and other parts of the country. The last stage in the strategy involves entering into large-scale operations that would trigger a massive uprising in the country. To achieve this goal and objective, the organization built urban support systems and networks in the capital city. The networks had been expanded to other major cities in the country.

The Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) is the strongest non-state group in Colombia. It evolved from the loosely organized revolutionary guerilla groups and bandits that existed earlier. The same pattern is seen in the history of the Daesh. The two groups share some historical similarities. However, the most significant factor is that the terrorist groups cannot be defeated through military might. On the contrary, an organized and committed political system is required to avert violence from the terrorist groups.

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