Saudi Arabia, UAE ‘lead way in fighting terror ideology’

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Saudi security forces and forensic personnel inspect the site of a suicide bombing that targeted the Shiite Al-Anoud mosque in the coastal city of Dammam on May 29, 2015. Daesh terrorist claimed responsibility. (AFP file photo)
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1983 - US Embassy, Beirut, Lebanon
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2000 - USS Cole bombing, Aden, Yemen
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1994 - Air France hijack, Marseille, France
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1987- Hamas, Gaza City
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1984 - Hezbollah parade, Beirut, Lebanon
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2004 - Osama bin Laden
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1981 - Anwar Sadat’s funeral, Cairo, Egypt
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1997 - Attack on tourists in Luxor, Egypt
Updated 13 September 2018
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Saudi Arabia, UAE ‘lead way in fighting terror ideology’

  • Former British prime minister Tony Blair has called for a new approach to combating violent extremism — but the methods he proposes have been used in Saudi Arabia and the UAE for years
  • Organizations such as the Saudi-based Ideological Warfare Center and Hedayah and the Sawab Center in the UAE are classic examples of the “prevention is better than cure” methods

DUBAI: Governments around the world need a coherent, global strategy to uproot the ideology of violent extremism, former British prime minister Tony Blair says. In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, they already knew that — and have been acting on it for years.

Organizations such as the Saudi-based Ideological Warfare Center and Muslim World League, and Hedayah and the Sawab Center in the UAE, are classic examples of the “prevention is better than cure” methods that Blair calls for on Thursday in a report by his Institute for Global Change.

“Extremism is a global challenge prevalent now in both developing and developed states, so the discourse has to be beyond fragile states only,” said Hassan Abbas, professor of international security studies at the National Defense University in Washington. “Enabling civil society workers to promote coexistence is a much-needed agenda item as it will lead to local capacity-building as well as acknowledgement of good work already being done — rather than misguided attempts to reinvent the wheel.”

The Ideological Warfare Center, founded by the Saudi Ministry of Defense, “has been concentrating on educating people and raising awareness about extremism and fundamentalism through cutting-edge visual tools,” said Dr Majid Rafizadeh, Iranian-American pol- itical scientist, president of the International American Council and board member of the Harvard International Review. “The UAE and Saudi Arabia have been leading states in using soft power, security, setting up public and private institutions that raise awareness about extremist ideologies, initiating dialogues between different societies, as well as taking regional and global initiatives to uproot terrorism and extremist ideologies.” 

Such a complex approach is challenging because of the difficulty of coordination between various inter-governmental and intra-governmental organizations, he said. “Nevertheless, in the long term, this is the most effective strategy to uproot extremist ideology and terrorism.”

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Understanding extremist ideologies crucial to fight against terror 

Dr. Anne Speckhard, director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, said such efforts are crucial to prevent violent extremism. “Saudi Arabia has for years been counter-messaging and working on ways to disengage and deradicalize imprisoned violent extremists,” said Dr Speckhard, who has more than 20 years’ experience interviewing 600 terrorists, their family members, hostages and close associates. “When countries work together on these points, we can all win. If governments fail, terrorists win.”

However, criticism of the Blair approach came from Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences. “It puts the blame on Arab Muslim countries for extremist ideologies in our region,” he said. “What it neglects is the important historical facts that Al-Qaeda was born from the reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Daesh is a result of a US invasion of Iraq.” 

Terrorism was rooted in foreign invasions of Muslim countries, he said. “The reasons are political, not ideological or religious. The argument from the West is apologetic on one hand, but also shifting the blame where it shouldn’t be.”

He said the Gulf had already done more than Blair recommended. “Saudi Arabia and the UAE are strict when it comes to financing, and regulation is tight. There is zero tolerance for extremism, we have done the most we can do.”

For Dr. Richard Burchill, director of research and engagement at Trends Research and Advisory in Abu Dhabi, overcoming extremist ideologies requires a focus on education at all levels of individual development, to build and support critical thinking skills, tolerance and empathy. “As acts of violent extremism decline, we should not assume the situation is improving,” he said. “It is imperative to address the ideologies that support extremist positions, both violent and non-violent. Extremist ideologies damage societies by creating differences and discrimination, fostering feelings of distrust and grievance. Security policies are important for addressing extremism, but also important is addressing the ideas behind the extremists.”

Critics say that the Blair approach contains little new thinking. “Since 9/11, scholars and policy wonks have been thinking along the lines of prevention before cure,” said Dr Albadr Al-Shateri, politics professor at the National Defence College in Abu Dhabi. 

“There is a greater chance with the Arab Gulf states, who have a genuine interest in combating extremism and terrorism. The UAE spearheads the region in this field as it plays host to organizations such as Hedayah and the Sawab Center. It is also the sponsor of the Muslim Council of Elders and the Forum for Promoting peace in Muslim Society.”

Encouraging civic society movements that are intent on promoting co-existence would be key, and a new strategy could lend support to such organizations and reinvigorate them to prevent counter-extremism fatigue, he said.

“How to generate financial and political resources in hard economic times will remain a challenge. The lack of political progress on the Palestinian problem will be another challenge, especially since Western powers are inept at restraining Israeli excesses.”

 

 


Saudi National Day celebration strengthens sense of belonging to the homeland: CSC

Updated 26 min 47 sec ago
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Saudi National Day celebration strengthens sense of belonging to the homeland: CSC

  • Senior leaders from the CSC expressed their joy on the 88th anniversary of the national day, which they said is a great milestone in the history of the Kingdom.
  • Dr. Sami Al-Obaidy, chairman of the CSC, said that the occasion is a time to remember the great sacrifices made for the nation and the people for the sake of the unity and progress of the Kingdom.

RIYADH: The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) said the Saudi National Day celebration strengthens the sense of belonging to the homeland and symbolizes the unity and integrity bringing the people of this beautiful Kingdom together for peace and progress, as it joined the nation in celebrating the 88th National Day.
Expressing their love for the nation the senior leaders from the CSC expressed their joy on the 88th anniversary of the national day, which they said is a great milestone in the history of the Kingdom as well as a marker of progress to come among the most developed and prosperous countries in various walks of life.
Dr. Sami Al-Obaidy, chairman of the CSC, said: “I am honored on behalf of the Saudi business sector to extend my heartfelt congratulations to our leadership and the people on this happy occasion, which brought the country under one banner, the banner of unification in the hands of the founder of our modern Kingdom, King Abdul Aziz.”
Al-Obaidy added that the occasion is a time to remember the great sacrifices made for the nation and the people for the sake of the unity and progress of this country, so that its people will enjoy security and stability with peace and progress.
It is a time to celebrate the great support that the Saudi business sector has received from the wise leadership and all the organs of the state until it has become a key partner in the economic development process, he added.
Muneer bin Saad, deputy chairman of the CSC, on this occasion emphasized that unity, stability and security are important points for the advancement, development and progress of the state and the people.
He pointed out that the private sector is witnessing a steady growth in the size of its economic contribution in order to achieve the aspirations of Vision 2030 as it aims to diversify the economy and sources of income away from dependence on oil.
Abdullah Al-Adeem, deputy chairman of the CSC, said that the national day represents an immortal memory in the conscience of the Saudi people and a celebration that all the people of the country are keen to carry on.
He added that the business sector will spare no effort to follow the aims of Vision 2030 and will actively contribute to social and economic well-being.
Saud Al-Meshari, secretary-general of the CSC, said that the celebration strengthens the sense of belonging to the homeland and the importance of preserving the gains that have been made to this blessed country from its inception until this glorious era led by King Salman.
This year’s celebration coincides with many positive developments taking place in the Kingdom at all levels, especially economic, where the engine of economic development is proceeding at a steady pace in accordance with Saudi Vision of 2030.
On this occasion, he congratulated the wise leadership and the Saudi people and praised the sacrifices made by the security personnel for the safety and security in the homeland.