Modern radicalism has ‘no boundaries,’ says Tunisian foreign minister

As of the end of 2014, some 3,000 Tunisians have flocked to Syria to fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, with many joining ISIS

Ismaeel Naar
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The foreign minister of Tunisia – which has seen thousands of its youth join extremist groups in Syria and elsewhere – said on Friday that unlike the past, modern terrorism has “no boundaries.”

“We did not overcome the threat because in the past, we looked at terrorism and tackled it as if it was an isolated phenomenon. But today, it has multiple forms and no boundaries,” Taieb Baccouche said at an opening session of the Manana Dialogue in Bahrain, held by the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank.

As of the end of 2014, some 3,000 Tunisians have flocked to Syria to fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, with many joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). According to estimates, Tunisia is the largest exporter of ISIS fighters in the region.

In the same panel discussion, Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani said that the current definitions of terrorism were in need of change.

“We need stop having these discussions about how we the definitions of terrorism are. The Houthis’ coup in Yemen is terrorism. In Syria and Iraq, terrorism. And Palestine with the Israeli occupiers as well,” Zayani said.

“It’s high time we start talking about containment of all this violence,” he added.

No positive interventions

Meanwhile, Yemeni foreign minister Riyadh Yaseen said the only way to address the chaos in the region is to convince Iran to “stop interfering in the internal affairs of others.”

Since late March, a Saudi-led coalition has bombed Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, in a bid to put the internationally-recognized government back in power.

“In Yemen’s history, there were no positive interventions from Iran in terms of education, infrastructure or development. The bulk of those came from the Gulf, the U.N., but not Iran. They have only ever exported to us arms and brainwashing of our youth,” he said.

For her part, the U.N.’s Development Programme administrator Helen Clark said that without sustainable development focusing on the young generation, there could be no peace in the region.

The focus of her observations centered on the “21st century high-tech phenomenon” surrounding ISIS’ capabilities in reaching the Arab’s world young men and women.

“When you look at the weeks and months they take to groom people online and tracking the foreign jihadists’ movements, these are very sophisticated measures,” Clark said.

“And I raise the question whether we are taking sophisticated set of techniques ourselves in countering it? But we are where we are and we can’t rewind the clock backwards,” she added.

The panel discussion was followed by an official opening night dinner attended by delegates, which had Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as the keynote speaker.

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