Time after time, Saudi Arabia has called for conferences in order to exchange views, present proposals, set up centers and build alliances. These actions are taken in order to secure the region, defuse crises and face risks that, if not dealt with, might lead to much bigger and worse problems. Crises might envelop the entire region if they are not kept from developing. There are of course those who want only to exploit problems and turn them to their own narrow benefit.
Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, there have been plenty of crises and risks. Previously unknown terrorist groups such as Daesh have intervened in neighboring states, while Iran and its militias also seek to destabilize the region. Tehran has been quick to find security breaches and take advantage of the Arab strategic vacuum.
Just as there are men who can deal with crises, there are also countries that can. Saudi Arabia responded to the risks to itself and the region by bringing together Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to thwart Iranian intervention in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia also supported other Arab countries that were affected by turmoil, infuriating Iran, its militias and those who backed them. As a result, the Kingdom has been on the receiving end of malicious attacks.
When Saudi Arabia felt that its security was threatened by events in Yemen, it mobilized an army and created an Arab coalition to restore the legitimate and internationally recognized Yemeni government. In order to do so, it had to take on another terrorist militia, the Houthis. By doing so, Saudi Arabia sent a message to Iran that it would not accept intervention by Iranian militias, and would protect its border and help its Arab brothers wherever they were.
Saudi Arabia is well known for respecting covenants and conventions in order to maintain international peace and security. It confronts terrorism with one hand, and gives aid to those who need it with the other.
Saudi Arabia set up an Islamic coalition of 41 countries in order to defeat terrorism and send a clear message to the whole world that the Kingdom is the heart of the Islamic world, that it abhors terrorism, and that it will not allow terrorism to distort the region or its religion. Saudi leaders know very well that there are many who support terrorism and use it to intervene in the region and create crisis after crisis.
The Kingdom this week hosted a meeting of heads of the general staff of the coalition against Daesh. The meeting was to exchange views, increase coordination among participating countries and strengthen alliances. This shows the participation of Arab and Islamic countries in the coalition that want to defend our region.
We wonder how it is possible to allow a country such as Iran, well-known as the biggest financier and sponsor of terrorism, to harbor the leaders of Al-Qaeda. Most countries have listed Qassem Soleimani, a leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, as a terrorist. Shiite militias, trained and sponsored by Iran, are killing innocent civilians and destabilizing the region. Iran has never been targeted by Daesh or any other terrorist organization.
The Riyadh conference, in a statement from the chief of staff, made it clear that the actions of Daesh and other terrorist groups and extremists will not be tolerated. These groups and extremists are committing crimes against humanity and genocide based on sectarian terrorism that serves only Iran’s agenda.
It is necessary to unite the efforts of the coalition in order to protect our region from the terrorism of Daesh and Iranian militias. Without militias, Tehran would not be able to continue on its terrorist path.
• Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar.