The unyielding Saudi position against terrorism and extremism

Abdullah bin Bajad al-Otaibi
Abdullah bin Bajad al-Otaibi
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We can all agree that terrorism is the violent manifestation of extremist ideologies, it is the last step in which extremists dare to put their extremism into practice; it is the moment when an extremist pulls the trigger or detonates a bomb. Meanwhile, extremism can be described as everything that precedes that moment including recruitment, brainwashing, incitement, training and agitation until an individual harboring extremist inclinations is finally ready to become a true terrorist and commit an act of terror.

Last week, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz spoke, in his speech before the Shura Council, about the eminent task of confronting extremism and promoting moderation. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also spoke about this same goal, and he confirmed that within one year, Saudi Arabia was able to eliminate 40 years of extremism. Moreover, Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Scholars issued a fatwa warning the public about the “Muslim Brotherhood” organization and its great danger to Islam, Muslims and the whole world.

Saudi Arabia's reform agenda is vehemently devoted to eradicating terrorism by addressing the ideology of extremism which lies at the root of the problem. Saudi Arabia has shown real dedication to end this issue once and for all not by directing all efforts towards combating that last step, terrorism, but rather by battling extremism. As a result, acts of terror in Saudi Arabia have declined close to zero. The new Saudi Arabia has no qualms about admitting and recognizing problematic areas and laying out plans and solutions to get rid of them. This new approach has proven to be a success in all areas including confronting terrorism, countering corruption, and economically steering away from oil dependency.

By directing its efforts towards eliminating terrorism and combating extremism, Saudi Arabia has taken it upon itself to rid the world of this affliction as the leader of the Islamic world, the cradle of revelation, and the heart of the Islamic faith. There is no denying that Saudi Arabia has taken decisive and influential measures to confront political Islamism and violent religious organizations. Armed by its exceptional security force, these groups have been eliminated internally, and with the help of its political strength, it succeeded in forming alliances to confront this phenomenon in the region. Whether it is the Saudi-Iraq rapprochement policies currently being put into place, or the war against the Iran-backed Houthi militia, Saudi Arabia is leading the fight against extremism. This has become evident
after the issuance of the fatwa by the Council of Senior Scholars that exposed the “Muslim Brotherhood” and warned the world of their danger.

After Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and a number of Arab and non-Arab countries classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, the Brotherhood turned to European countries. After years of investing its efforts in Europe, ties between them have grown friendly. In fact, Europe has stood against any real effort by any Arab country to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood or any political Islam groups emerging from it to ensure serving their mutual interests.

We can safely admit that leading and pioneering Arab countries have done their part in exposing the imminent danger of these groups; however, Europe did not heed the warning. The current surge in terrorism we are currently witnessing in European countries is a clear outcome of Europe’s failure to take firm actions against these dangerous groups, and instead providing them with continuous support.

The vicious campaign led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist groups a few weeks ago against France was fully supported by Turkey and Qatar. Naturally, this campaign has culminated in the successive acts of terror that befell European countries including the shootings in Vienna, the attack against the Saudi embassy in The Hague, the attacks in Canada, and the high terror alert in Germany and other European countries. This can all be attributed to the fact that these countries have not yet made the decision to fight the root of the problem which is Islamic fundamentalist groups and political Islamist organizations.

Allow me to highlight the true historic opportunity that is currently being presented to the world in terms of eradicating terrorism and fundamentalism after Saudi Arabia with all its spiritual, political and economic power, joined this noble fight. The whole world stands to benefit from this opportunity with Saudi Arabia on the front lines in the war on terror. As a matter of fact, if world leaders and Western allies realize the significance of this opportunity and the peace, tolerance and moderation it can spread, then many atrocities and tragedies can be avoided.

We are finally witnessing France talking about the dangerous values of the Muslim Brotherhood and other political Islam groups. Austria has even classified "political Islam" as a crime punishable by law, and other similar measures are being taken in a number of other European countries. The dangerous impact of Europe’s role in supporting terrorism will not subside until all European countries are able to demonstrate their understanding of the gravity of the situation by taking real actions and firm decisions to eliminate this alarming phenomenon.

Europe has been the main exporter of the majority of fighters joining ISIS, which follows in the Muslim Brotherhood’s footsteps and the footsteps of other sub-groups like al-Qaeda. It is not Arab states that take the blame for funding and training these groups, in fact, the main culprit in this nefarious battle is Europe, which continues to extend its support to these groups along with the Iranian regime, Turkey and Qatar, a fact that has been proven through countless documented details and figures.

Sadly, unless real change happens and policies are redrawn, terrorism in Europe will not end.

Political Islam, its groups, symbols, rhetoric and ideologies, is primarily a political threat, not to Arab and Muslim countries alone, but to the entire world. As long as global left-wing politics continues to form alliances with these groups, public opinion and political leaders will never fully realize the true danger of these groups, let alone determine how to counter this danger.

A decade ago, when the Obama administration supported these groups, and devastation and terrorism surged in a number of Arab countries, in what was known as the "Arab Spring", a wide market emerged among segments of intellectuals and writers declaring their support for political Islam on the pretext of defending civil rights and freedoms. This excuse revealed their flagrant ignorance and lack of awareness of the magnitude of the threat these groups pose to our nations.

By intensifying its efforts to demolish these groups, Saudi Arabia became the prime target for all groups, organizations and even countries that support extremism.

This can already be seen after the attack on the Saudi embassy in the Netherlands, and I suspect that this will be followed by an organized attack led by the Muslim Brotherhood against Saudi Arabia and the Council of Senior Scholars. The battle between Saudi Arabia and its allies against political Islam groups, is arduous and long and it cannot be resolved by resorting to half measures.

Finally, it is safe to assume that the new left or what is known as the liberal left is no less dangerous than political Islam because of the deep alliances between the two parties. One cannot confront one of them without needing to deal with the other. In fact, in the Arab world, this battle is even more complicated due to the deeply-rooted entanglement of leftist figures in politics, economy, culture, and media.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, Saudi Arabian outlet Asharq Al-Awsat.

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