Oman’s participation in the Islamic coalition: What are the benefits?
The number of member states has risen to 41, which represents 72 percent of the members of the OIC
The announcement by the Sultanate of Oman that it will join the Saudi-led Islamic military counter-terrorism coalition has been widely welcomed in the Gulf, throughout the Arab world and by the wider Muslim community.
Oman said in a statement that such a move comes “within the framework of the Muslim world’s mutual understanding of the leading role played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in bringing peace, security and stability to areas dominated by terrorist violence.”
Oman’s participation in the coalition raises the number of its member states to 41, which represents 72 percent of the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The coalition was initially formed by 34 member states on December 15, 2015, rising to 40, with the Chiefs of Staff taking part in a founding meeting held in Riyadh.
Various methods of counter-terrorism have been set by the coalition including military, ideological and financial confrontation. Oman’s presence will certainly enhance the capability of the coalition to face the said challenges.
The accumulated experience of Omani security agencies, including its highly qualified and competent foreign intelligence agency, will provide significant assistance to the coalition due to its deep-rooted experience in combating terrorism and extremism.
The coalition can collaborate with the Omani security agencies regarding information exchange and the unification of vision and mechanisms to combat terrorism and extremism. Likewise, Oman can benefit from the coalition securing its land ports, seaports and airports from terrorist organizations and preventing them from infiltrating its territories from neighboring Yemen.
The announcement that Oman is joining the coalition indicates shared visions and attitudes to deter any threat to the region. It expresses Oman’s support for the attitudes of the GCC states in particular and Arab and Muslim attitudes in general.Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin
Oman’s efforts in the field of social peace, combating terrorism and the consolidation of tolerance and co-existence among its citizens form a significant tributary to the coalition.
Global Peace Index
According to the third report of the Global Peace Index, issued by the Institute of Economics and Peace in 2015, “Oman scored ‘zero’ in the index of terrorism, a mark that represents the pinnacle of security from terrorist threats.”
The report attributes this success to “the efforts exerted by the Sultanate in the strict regulation of any issue that is relevant to extremism or sectarian intolerance.” Many reports have shown that not a single Omani has ever joined ISIS, which reflects the awareness of the people of Oman and their government’s efforts in combating terrorist ideology.
On the financial level, Oman is rich in its experience in anti-money laundering and terrorism financing. Oman came 29th out of 162 countries, according to the Basel Governance report on money laundering in 2014. The Basel report is highly credible as it uses data issued by the International Financial Action Task Force on money laundering and terrorism financing. Hence, the coalition can benefit from Oman’s efforts in this area through prolonged coordination and by sharing its experience with the financial institutes of the member states.
Finally, the announcement that Oman is joining the coalition indicates shared visions and attitudes to deter any threat to the region. It expresses Oman’s support for the attitudes of the GCC states in particular and Arab and Muslim attitudes in general.
The efforts of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, in bringing about Oman’s decision cannot be overlooked, as they are an extension of his efforts in forming the coalition to create an Islamic deterrent force to combat terrorism, enhance international peace and security and promote Islamic coherence and brotherhood.
This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Jan. 26, 2017.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin is a Middle East affairs specialist and security analyst based in Riyadh. He can be contacted at Ibrahim.firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Alothaimin