MIDDLE EAST

The Washington-Riyadh counterterrorism relationship

On Friday 10 February 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo awarded Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, the George Tenet Medal for his distinct intelligence counter-terrorism work, which has made him the subject of numerous serious life-threatening assassination attempts. The Crown Prince is internationally known as one of the most prominent influential figures in the fight against terrorism.

The New York Times described him as the “Caesar of combat against terrorism” and a smart person who knows the nature of terrorism very well. The receipt of such a high award is not only an exceptional occurrence at a personal level for the Crown Prince, but also at a national and international level for the following reasons:

First of all, it was awarded by a highly credible security and intelligence agency of a country that is an indispensable strategic ally. The fact that the CIA director honored the Crown Prince by presenting the medal in person refutes any allegations by Western writers who suggest that Saudi Arabia supports terrorism.

Saudi Arabia has not yielded to terrorism; rather, it has faced terrorism with the decisiveness of its vigilant security forces headed by the Crown Prince, thereby acquiring considerable experience that has benefited many countries including the US and the UK

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin

In an article published on Foreign Policy, Simon Henderson, Baker fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Institute’s Gulf and Energy Policy Program, alleges that Saudi Arabia supports ISIS in Iraq in its rivalry with Iran. This medal indicates that Saudi Arabia, which is actually the main target of terrorist groups, also suffers from terrorist attacks and engages itself in a fierce war against them.

Secondly, Saudi Arabia has not yielded to terrorism; rather, it has faced terrorism with the decisiveness of its vigilant security forces headed by the Crown Prince, thereby acquiring considerable experience that has benefited many countries including the US and the UK.

In his remarks on President Trump’s travel ban on the citizens of seven countries, the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly, stressed that the ban excludes Saudi Arabia, which has effective security forces and reliable intelligence agencies.

Terror cooperation

In the closing session of the recent GCC summit in Manama, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that British intelligence has received many alerts from Saudi Arabia concerning imminent terrorist attacks, which have saved many lives. Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and officials from different countries have made similar statements, confirming the strength of Saudi security forces in combating terrorism.

Thirdly, the awarding of the medal to the Crown Prince waves aside any speculation around the alleged links of Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 attacks raised by the missing 28 pages of the US 9/11 Commission Report that were kept in the basement of Congress as classified documents.

It should also be noted that when the papers were released by the CIA, they neither showed anything linking Saudi Arabia to the attacks nor included any proof of the baseless speculation, but showed that they merely served to stir up public opinion.

Fourthly, the awarding of the medal will inspire the US administration to reconsider the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which allows civil lawsuits to be brought in US courts by families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, against countries involved in terrorist attacks on US territories. Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has insisted that the Trump administration must reconsider the controversial JASTA to avoid its exploitation.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 5, 2017.
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Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin is a Middle East affairs specialist and security analyst based in Riyadh. He can be contacted at Ibrahim.othaimin@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alothaimin.
 

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Last Update: Friday, 5 May 2017 KSA 12:00 - GMT 09:00
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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