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Six facts that question efficacy of Saudi Arabia led anti-terror alliance

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Islamic State

By Nithin Sridhar

Saudi Arabia has just announced the formation of a military coalition of 34 countries to fight against Islamic terrorist outfits. The coalition is dominated by Islamic countries, including Pakistan, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, UAE, Turkey, Libya, and Yemen. Though, the formation of such a coalition is a welcome step, serious doubts have been raised regarding the commitment of the coalition towards fighting the Islamic State’s menace.

Here are the six facts that raise serious questions regarding the efficacy of the Saudi led coalition:

1. Though, Saudi Arabia is part of the US coalition that is bombing ISIS locations, Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies have gradually withdrawn from the air strikes against ISIS, thus reducing the air raids to being largely a US effort supplemented by UK and France. According to one account, Bahrain and Jordan have not dropped even a single bomb in last several months and Saudi itself carries out bombing only once a month. 

2. Saudi Arabia and ISIS share extremist Islamic ideology. ISIS follows the Jihadi-Salafism of Sunni Islam. This Salafism is rooted in the Wahhabi strain of Sunni Islam that is propagated by Saudi Arabia through its mosques and madrassas across the world. Salafism and Wahhabism are intimately connected and both derive their legitimacy from the literal interpretation of Islam. Further, Saudi Arabia spends a large amount of money every year to spread Wahhabism across the world. According to one estimate, more than $100 billion have been spent by Saudi in the past few decades to spread Wahhabi ideology.

3. Though Saudi Arabia officially claims to fight terrorism, Saudi donors have remained one of the most important funders of terror groups. A Wikileaks cable quoted Hillary Clinton as saying: “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” She added: “More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups.”

4. Saudi Arabia is deep neck in the Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East. Saudi and Iran are waging a proxy war for decades and this sectarian conflict has only strengthened terror groups and further helped them to recruit more people. For example, Saudi’s involvement in Yemen to counter Shia influence resulted in ISIS gaining strong ground in Yemen.

5. Turkey has failed to seal its border with ISIS-controlled Syria, thus allowing ISIS to carry out its oil trade and influx of foreign fighters. Russia has clearly accused Turkey of allowing huge quantities of oil from ISIS controlled oil fields to enter Turkey. Russia has further accused Turkey of shooting down Russian warplane in order to protect the oil supply routes from ISIS territories to Turkey.

6. Pakistan is widely known for its sheltering of various terror outfits including LeT and JuD. Pakistan is directly and indirectly involved in carrying out various acts of terrorism in India. Additionally, it has continued to support Taliban, who are still fighting in Afghanistan.

Considering how the countries involved in the present anti-terror coalition are either themselves involved in aiding and abetting terrorism, or in propagating extremist ideologies, or are taking part in sectarian conflicts, it will not be wrong to question whether there is a genuine desire to fight terrorism or is it just for photo-op? In any case, it is highly doubtful that the anti-terror coalition will see any considerable success as long as Saudi Arabia continues to export extremist Wahhabi ideology and fund terror outfits. Dr. Munish Raizada rightly points in his tweet:

(Photo: www.youthconnect.in)

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President of Egypt Calls for Collective Action Against Countries Supporting Terrorism

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Terrorism egypt
The president of Egypt Urges world leaders to take decisive action against states supporting terrorism. Pixabay

Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.

The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.

Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi Egypt
The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. VOA

The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.

The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.

Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.

Upcoming conference

El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.

Egypt
This photo provided by the office of Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, dignitaries including Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, gather, for a photo during a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Egypt. VOA

He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.

After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Maritime border agreement 

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

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Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital.  He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)