There are frequent claims by the hasty stipulating that terrorism has ended, fundamentalism has been defeated and extremism has been eliminated. These opinions present a positive picture of changes taking place in Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt against political Islam and terrorist organizations. However, the time and effort required to achieve these successes is not given due attention, nor is the wider picture studied.
Earlier this month, a Chechen girl blew herself up near a police station in the capital Grozny. Although terrorist operations in Chechnya have been recently rare, there are still some every now and then. The case is even more severe in Afghanistan where bombings and assassinations by the terrorist organization the Taliban have been escalating.
Fighting this brand of terrorism was limited to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Arab Coalition in Yemen. Then came the United States’ and President Trump’s administration’ involvement in the regional and international scene against the destruction carried out by the Iranian regimeAbdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
In the Arab world, Iraq appears to be the most noticeable hub of confronting ISIS activities as although the organization has suffered a defeat in Syria, it continues to hold pockets of territory in western Iraq, along the borders with Syria, and inside Syrian territory. A week ago, ISIS assassinated nine people, including an official of a Sunni tribal force. The Iraqi prime minister recently stated that hundreds of ISIS members in Deir ez-Zor in Syria are trying to infiltrate Iraqi territory, and the organization is still able to move its forces from Kurdistan to the western regions of Iraq.
In Egypt, the organization of the “Sinai Province”, heir to the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis organization, is still operating in Sinai. Despite continuous gains made by Egypt’s security forces, it is still carrying out bombings and assassinations of which the most recent one was the assassination of a Christian doctor. The situation is worse in Libya, where armed terrorist organizations continue to cause problems for the country’s political and security situation, as they receive support from Qatar and others. Their activities stall the prospect of any political solution, and the situation there is not that different than the situation in Somalia.
OPINION: The art of arranging hostilities
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Here, we are not even mentioning the terrorism of Shiite groups linked to the Iranian regime, ranging from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthi militias in Yemen. Fighting this brand of terrorism was limited to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Arab Coalition in Yemen. Then came the United States’ and President Trump’s administration’ involvement in the regional and international scene against the destruction carried out by the Iranian regime, and not just against Iran’s nuclear program.
The moderate mission
Based on all this and other wider aspects, one can affirm that the war against fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism is a long and strategic war that requires decades to finalize. The recent achievements are victories in battles on this long path. We must of course celebrate these victories as they culminate in victory of war.
The moderate Arab mission led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE along with a number of other Arab countries is the only lifeline for those who support stability in the region since it opposes both fundamentalist and sectarian terrorist projects with firmness, through the promotion of values of tolerance, coexistence, peace, and development. Any country in the world that supports modern civilization and universal human values has no choice but to align itself with this moderate Arabic project, which abides by international law and supports modern human values. This ambitious project offers creative and constructive solutions to millions of young people in both the Arab and Islamic worlds.
Confronting elements of backwardness, extremism and terrorism is carried out through two parallel routes: a building process and a demolition process. In the first process, we spread the culture of tolerance and development while in the second process we target the projects of backwardness and terrorism. These are the wings of the bird which the latter can only fly with both of them.
The article is also available in Arabic.
Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad.