While the UK Government will undoubtedly be keen to use Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the UK to foster closer economic ties with the Kingdom, policymakers would be wise to use the opportunity to develop greater cooperation to counter Islamist extremism. In this regard, Britain has much to learn, but also much to offer.
Ahead of the visit, the Crown Prince highlighted the important strategic relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia, whose close-knit association stretches back decades, rightly emphasizing the security challenge from extremism the two countries share. Here in the West, we often appear to forget that Muslims themselves are the biggest victims of the violence of groups like ISIS.
Officials from both sides are keen to make progress in this area. Discussions are expected to take place on how Britain and Saudi Arabia could further strengthen their longstanding military cooperation and intelligence sharing activities, with the Crown Prince due to participate in briefings from senior figures from the UK’s military and intelligence agencies. But while such collaborative efforts are necessary and important, more can be gained by both sides.
Conviction, clarity and coherence
Empowering, engaging civil society
And perhaps the most telling statement from the Crown Prince, one that underscores the ambitions he has for transforming the Kingdom socially and economically, is his urgency in wanting to bring about change, admitting that “70% of the Saudis are younger than 30. Honestly, we won’t waste 30 years of our life combating extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately.”Mubaraz Ahmed