Saudi Arabia Declares War On Its Own Terror

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Saudi Arabia
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister, Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia recently announced the formation of a coalition to fight all terrorist groups including Isis/Daesh.

It is comprised of 34 mainly Sunni nations, to fight the militant Sunni Isis/Daesh faction terrorizing the Middle East right now.

Pakistani columnist and political analyst Wajahat Masood finds it hard to see Saudi Arabia fighting a phenomenon that it helped to create and sustain over the last thirty years.

According to Masood the definition of terror is different in the Saudi vocabulary. The kingdom sees terror subjectively.

Sputnik News reports:

On Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency announced the creation of a 34-member ‘Islamic coalition against terrorism’, featuring members from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, complete with a Riyadh-based operations command center aimed at coordinating and supporting joint military operations. The coalition’s aims, according to Saudi state media, will be “to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations,” on “the basis of the right of peoples to self-defense.”

Pakistan, according to Saudi media, is one of the countries which will be participating in the coalition. Asked for comment, Wajahat Masood, a well-known columnist, political analyst, and human rights activist, broke the issue down for Sputnik.

“First of all,” Masood explained, “it is necessary to clearly define the concept of terrorism – of who the terrorists are in our understanding (the people of the world, including Pakistanis), and that of the leadership of Saudi Arabia.”

“In our understanding,” the journalist noted, “a terrorist is a person who, raising his weapon in order to force others to submit to his will – political or religious. He is one who kills for this purpose, who is ready to commit any crime. This is our definition.”

“But Saudi authorities,” according to Masood, “think of the concept of terrorism differently. To them, a terrorist is anyone who presents or may present a threat to the order which exists in that state. No other understanding exists.”

“For this reason,” the journalist says, “it is necessary to first determine for ourselves who is a terrorist and, accordingly, which groups may be considered terrorists.”

Ultimately, Masood says that he doesn’t “believe that Saudi Arabia will fight against terrorism in our understanding of the word. Moreover, it shouldn’t be forgotten that this is a government which has done a great deal to support the wave of terror which has swept the world over the past thirty years.”

Asked if he was surprised to find that his country’s participation in the coalition, the journalist said that “on the one hand, this news was surprising; but on the other, what is there that’s shocking about it? We shouldn’t forget Riyadh’s persistent attempts to drag Pakistan into their coalition in the fight against the Houthis [in Yemen]. It was only thanks to public opinion, and the decision of our parliament, that my country resisted. After all, it’s worth remembering that our government is heavily dependent on foreign aid, much of it from the Saudis, in the interests of solving it’s internal problems, including budgetary and other issues.”

Suggesting that the formation of the coalition may in fact be a sign of Riyadh’s desperation, the journalist noted that “however they may try to convince us – the whole world, of the strength and fortitude of the Saudi regime, allow me to express my doubts as to its stability and strength. Things change…and perhaps the decision on the coalition is but an attempt to prevent such change.”

Coalition members surprised to find themselves in a new Saudi military alliance plan, according to the BBC:

Officials in Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia all said they had not formally agreed to join the alliance.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said 34 mainly Muslim nations would be part of the counter-terrorism grouping.

Prince Mohammed said it would focus on efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

“Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually… so co-ordinating efforts is very important,” he told a news conference.

He indicated there were still “procedures” for these countries to go through before joining, “but out of keenness to achieve this coalition as soon as possible, [the alliance of] 34 countries has been announced”.

‘Awaiting further details’

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry was quoted in the Dawn newspaper as saying he was surprised by the announcement and had asked the Pakistani ambassador in Riyadh for clarification.

The country’s foreign office said in a statement later on Wednesday that it was “awaiting further details to decide the extent of its participation in different activities of the alliance” before making a decision on whether to join.

In Indonesia, the foreign ministry said it too had not yet decided whether to join.

“The government is still observing and waiting to see the modalities of the military coalition formed by Saudi Arabia,” foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told The Jakarta Post.

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein went further – expressing support for the coalition but ruling out any military involvement from Kuala Lumpur.

“The Saudi initiative does not involve any military commitment, but an understanding that we will combat militancy,” he said.

Announcing the alliance, Saudi Arabia said a joint operations centre would be established in the capital Riyadh and the coalition would focus on terror groups “whatever their doctrine”.

It comes amid international pressure for Gulf Arab states to do more in the fight against so-called Islamic State.

The BBC’s Frank Gardner points out that the Shia-majority nations of Iran and Iraq, as well as Syria, are noticeably absent from the alliance.

It is far from clear how it could conduct counter-terrorism operations in IS-plagued Iraq and Syria without the agreement of those governments, he adds.

Saudi Arabia’s list of 34 alliance members: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinians, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

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