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The GCC will not spare any terrorist group

Mustafa Al Zarooni
Filed on March 11, 2016 | Last updated on March 11, 2016 at 09.13 am

GCC countries have a clear plan to root out terror, no matter what religion or ideology the terrorists embrace.

Terrorists of different ideologies are a threat to the Arabian Gulf region, and the GCC will confront their views and the violence perpetrated by them effectively on the ground and online. These groups are centered in the north and south of the region, not to mention sleeper cells, which rear their head every now and then to cause damage to life and property.

GCC countries have a clear plan to root out terror, no matter what religion or ideology the terrorists embrace, but there's a bigger challenge when some countries sponsor militias and provide them with weapons to stoke trouble in the region.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The terrorist group had launched some attacks against the kingdom and killed many civilians and members of the security forces. The Saudi counter offensive against the group forced them to  move base to Yemen. Then Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh played on fears of world powers and sought money and munitions to fight the group. He failed in his bid to rein in the organisation which tried to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Naif, who was then the Saudi minister of interior.

Now Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is carrying out attacks against Emirati forces in Aden, which serve the interests of former president Abdullah Saleh and the Houthi rebels, who are sponsored and supported by Iran. Terror groups and militias in Yemen exploit children and use them as soldiers. There is fear all around. Our fight is not against any people, religion, or a school of thought, but against the pervasive spread of violence that is corrupting the minds of our youth.

Some militia in Yemen are loyal to former president Saleh; they support Al Qaeda and back the Houthis, who are in turn backed by the regime in Iran. GCC countries are also up against hardline Salafist groups in Syria and Iraq represented by Daesh and the Al Nusra Front. Terror unleashed by these groups will be curbed and violence in any form will not be tolerated by countries in the region.

In Syria and Iraq, violent ideology is widespread because of fragile and weak states. Governments there support some sect at the expense of another. They instigate local militias to take up arms and turn against each other with the sole purpose of  remaining in power. Gulf countries have battled such tendencies with vigour and will not stand by idly as such groups run riot and local governments look the other way.

Recent statements by UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan sheds light on our strategy. "We cannot differentiate between terror groups Daesh and Al Nusra Front on the one hand and the militant groups in Syria and Iraq, who are sponsored by Iran on the other." Shaikh Abdullah said if we want to put an end to Daesh and Al Nasr, we cannot disregard what is being committed by Abu Al Fadl Al Abbas Brigade, Badr group, and Hezbollah against the Iraqi and Syrian people.

Today, Iran wields control over governments in Iraq and Lebanon. It has influenced politics in both countries by creating and arming terrorist groups that have massacred people.

Evidence shows that groups sponsored by Iran are no less barbaric than groups like Daesh and the Al Nusra Front. Abu A Fadl Al Abbas Brigade, Al Mahdi Army, Failaq Al Quds, the Badr Group, Asaeb Ahl Al Haq, Al Mukhtar Army, Tharullah, Malek Al Ashtar, as well as Hezbollah have the same violent, sectarian agenda,  but are controlled by different masters. We cannot focus on one terror group and let the other take advantage and gather the spoils of hate. They must be fought intelligently and also at the intellectual level online and offline. The UAE established the Hedayah centre to respond to these terror groups online. There's also Sawab which is a joint initiative with the United States. This is a battle for the hearts and minds of people, particularly the young, who can be indoctrinated easily. We have to pool our thoughts together and fight the terrorists on the ground and not let them destroy our way of life. - malzarooni@khaleejtimes.com

 


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