Donald Trump has begun his presidency with controversial orders, such as building a wall on the US-Mexico border, and temporarily banning the entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. Trump said the latter order is meant to counter terrorism, although other countries that have been harmed by terrorism, such as Turkey and France, have never taken such steps.
Achieving security is possible via joint efforts and cooperation at senior and international levels. On Sunday, Saudi King Salman received a phone call from Trump, and the two leaders discussed bilateral, regional and international issues. Saudi Arabia and the US have a strategic partnership and special relations. For decades they have worked together on security and combating terrorism.
Such efforts need a new mechanism to succeed. Exchanging intelligence must be accompanied by working with countries that play a pivotal role against terrorism because they have been targeted by it, and by solving regional conflicts that provide a breeding ground for terrorist groups. Tackling root causes is crucial; dealing with symptoms is not enough.
Iran interferes in the region, trains and sponsors Shiite sectarian militias, and harbors leaders of Al-Qaeda and other groups that have never targeted the country. These facts indicate which party should be countered. The mistake of accepting Tehran’s role — under the guise of fighting terrorism in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere — must not be repeated. Iran is blackmailing the international community by creating evil and pretending to fight it.
Over the years, Tehran has established terrorist, sectarian militias such as Hezbollah, the Houthis, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and others. It is using them to interfere in Arab countries, destroying their social fabric and sowing sectarian strife. These terrorist acts by Iran will never stop unless it is deterred.
The international community and the Trump administration must dismantle these militias if they want to curb terrorism and deter Iran’s destructive regional role. Tehran cannot implement its evil plans without them. Before Iran’s deplorable revolution, these militias, as well as Al-Qaeda and Daesh, did not exist.
Cooperation between the new US administration and the Arab Gulf states against terrorism will lead to huge results, due to Saudi Arabia’s experience in this field, and its establishment of an Islamic coalition of 41 countries to defeat terrorism and secure the region.
• Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar.