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Do We Need Another Security Authority? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Do We Need Another Security Authority?

Last week, Saudi Arabia announced the creation of a National Security Council lead by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a man known for his dynamism and successes.

Of course, such a move is welcomed since the Kingdom is the target of some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists such as al Qaeda, which struck for the first time in Riyadh nine years ago. The choice was not random. Instead, the group realized that Saudi Arabia is an influential country and a key to its international design since it has the capacity to initiate change in the region. If such are the convictions of terrorists, security concerns should be paramount.

In fact, countries are like shops; they become targets depending on their value. Some resemble grocery stores with thieves lurking around the entrance. They incur small losses but remain generally safe. Other countries, similar to jewelry stores, tempt professional criminal gangs to attack them, resulting in violent and deadly confrontations.

While the grocery store manager can fend off robbers with a stick kept behind his desk, famous jewelers require additional protection, direct telephone lines to the police, surveillance cameras and the latest alarm system. Saudi Arabia is an up market jewelry store whose natural resources and policies have come under attack in the past fifty years making security a key concern for everyone. Professional measures need to be adopted to predict the danger, succeed in countering it and defeating the enemy.

It is hoped the National Security Council will liaise between the existing security bodies and analyze the phenomenon of Islamic extremism, terrorism since no single underlying cause is to blame, and security solutions fail if applied unaided.

Unless an authority assumes the responsibility of coordinating and examining the whole picture, our view will remain incomplete and blurry. Security cannot be dissociated from economics, the media, politics and religion. Understanding why terrorist groups continue to attract new members require adequate analysis which can be carried out by the National Security Council, who is unlikely to track terrorists or uncovering financial networks or investigating preachers of hate.

The Council should examine the threat posed by unemployment, bad education, foreign labor and other unexpected phenomena. It should oversee government decisions and its possible repercussions and weigh up the measures that ought to be taken.

Any decision Saudi Arabia takes concerning its oil will have worldwide impact while a resolution on the Hajj (pilgrimage) will affect over a billion Muslim dotted around the globe and its political regional choices will influence neighboring countries. The opposite also holds true, since regional changes can prove far-reaching for the Kingdom, as the Khomeini-led revolution proved to be.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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