Editorial: Arab summit — Right response to terror

A handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra on July 26, 2016, shows Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (L), Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (top), Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (C-L), Lebanese Prime Minister Tamam Salam (C-R), and Bahraini Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, posing for a picture during the Arab League summit in Mauritania's capital Nouakchott. (AFP PHOTO /handout by Dalati and Nohra)
Updated 29 July 2016

Editorial: Arab summit — Right response to terror

Daesh is proving to be a Hydra-headed monster.
As the snake heads of the terrorists are being cut off in Iraq and Syria, their siblings are striking in Europe. The attacks in Germany and France are gross. They were suppose to be. They were designed to inflame public opinion against the hundreds of thousands of migrants, who have sought refuge in Europe. But Europeans need to hold on to some perspective. The death toll in Daesh attacks in their towns and cities are horrific. But they are nothing compared to the horrors inflicted by Daesh in territories they control. Even the Nice and Bataclan massacres are dwarfed by the standard terrorist violence in the Arab world.
It is precisely because of this living hell that Syrians have fled in droves. They have been savagely repressed by their own government. They have been brutalized by the terrorists. Is it any wonder that men head off with their families in a desperate search for safety?
At the Arab summit in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott this week, there was a complete agreement that the Arab world should continue to play a leading role in the international war on terror.
The Kingdom has long experience in confronting and defeating the terrorist menace. Its analyses were listened to carefully in Nouakchott. There was one point at the summit, which was very well made. A just settlement for the Palestinians should not be forgotten in the horrified reaction to Daesh’s European crimes. In fact, Daesh leaders care no more about Palestinians than they do for the communities they have overrun. Their cry that Israel should accept a sovereign Palestinian state is completely false. But it has been an important recruiting drum.
The war on terror is a war for truth. It is a war for justice. In Europe’s furious reaction to Daesh attacks, the Palestinians must not be forgotten again. The horror of 9/11 launched the Bush war on terror. But Washington chose not to understand how very much the illegal Israeli occupation and repression in Palestine matters in the Arab world. That failure further enfranchised Benjamin Netanyahu’s Zionist settlement policy. And it also gave Daesh a cause for which it could pretend to be fighting. Therefore the new drive by France and Egypt to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks is important. Israel will of course continue to frustrate any hint of progress. But that is not the point. The world needs to be reminded of the terrible injustices in Palestine. A genuine effort to broker a just settlement will undermine the Daesh message of hate. Ultimately, it will make Europe safer.
Daesh did not create European Islamophobia. Racists have long picked on Muslims, as well as blacks and Jews. But Daesh crimes in Nice, Munich, Paris, Madrid and London are designed to exploit the existing racist poison. They want to create fear and suspicion. They seek to promote the noxious idea that every Muslim is a terrorist. They want white Europeans to start discriminating against their domestic Muslim communities. They want racist attacks on European Muslims. They want hate-filled graffiti sprayed on mosque walls. They want these holy buildings attacked. They want Muslims to be in fear of their lives. Then they want to pretend that they, Daesh can defend European Muslims and help them fight back against their racist persecutors.
Muslim community leaders throughout the continent condemn Daesh and its evil distortion of Islam. They explain that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. European politicians parrot their words. But do they really believe them? Or are they too falling victim to the paranoia Daesh is trying to kindle?
A firmer stand needs to be taken. And far stronger efforts are required to help restore stability in the Arab world. The Kingdom at the head of the Gulf States’ coalition has shouldered the burden of ending chaos in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is part of the US-led task force whose warplanes are destroying Daesh from the air in Iraq and Syria. Saudi experts continue to brief and assist fellow counter-intelligence operatives in Europe and North America. The fight against terror, here in the Kingdom and around the world has to be relentless.
It also has to be proactive. The terrorists have to be struck before they can strike. European politicians share the popular shock at Daesh crimes. But their thinking looks reactive. Of course their security forces have a counter-terrorism strategy. But more is needed. The response to Daesh has to be multi-pronged. It must protect European Muslims from racist backlash. It must honor the place of Islam in world civilization.

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

Updated 16 May 2019

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

  • Arab News argues that while war is always a last resort, an international response is a must to curb Iranian meddling
  • US strikes worked well when Assad used chemical weapons against his people

The attacks on Tuesday by armed drones on Saudi oil-pumping stations, and two days beforehand on oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, represent a serious escalation on the part of Iran and its proxies, should the initial conclusions of an international investigation prove to be accurate. 

Riyadh has constantly warned world leaders of the dangers that Iran poses, not only to Saudi Arabia and the region, but also to the entire world. This is something former President Obama did not realize until the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the US Navy three times in late 2016. The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today’s world of commerce. Tehran should not get away with any more intimidation, or be allowed to threaten global stability. 

It was in 2008 that the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called upon the US to “cut off the head of the snake,” in reference to the malign activities of Iran. Nearly a decade later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” We are in 2019 and Iran continues to wreak havoc in the region, both directly and through its well armed proxies. Crown Prince Mohammed was therefore clearly correct when he argued that appeasement does not work with the Iranian regime, just as it did not work with Hitler. The next logical step — in this newspaper’s view — should be surgical strikes. The US has set a precedent, and it had a telling effect: The Trump strikes on Syria when the Assad regime used Sarin gas against its people.

We argue this because it is clear that sanctions are not sending the right message. If the Iranian regime were not too used to getting away with their crimes, they would have taken up the offer from President Trump to get on the phone and call him in order to reach a deal that would be in the best interests of the Iranian people themselves. As the two recent attacks indicate, the Iranians insist on disrupting the flow of energy around the world, putting the lives of babies in incubators at risk, threatening hospitals and airports, attacking civilian ships and putting innocent lives in danger. As the case always is with the Iranian leadership, they bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they have done nothing. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that they were behind the attack on our brothers in the UAE while their Houthi militias targeted the Saudi pipelines.

Our point of view is that they must be hit hard. They need to be shown that the circumstances are now different. We call for a decisive, punitive reaction to what happened so that Iran knows that every single move they make will have consequences. The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions — again in the world’s interest — but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region. 

We respect the wise and calm approach of politicians and diplomats calling for investigations to be completed and all other options to be exhausted before heading to war. In the considered view of this newspaper, there has to be deterrent and punitive action in order for Iran to know that no sinister act will go unpunished; that action, in our opinion, should be a calculated surgical strike.