Riyadh – Diplomats, officials and counter-terrorism experts stressed on Sunday the need to unite ranks and goals on the regional and global scene in the fight against terrorism and terror groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and others.
They added that Iran and its nuclear program are threats to global peace and stability.
The gatherers made their declaration during the Riyadh Forum on Countering Extremism and Fighting Terrorism that was held on the sidelines of US President Donald Trump’s weekend visit to Saudi Arabia.
Organized by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, the forum stressed that terrorism is threating the entire world, while also acknowledging that Saudi Arabia has played a commendable role in countering terror and extremism.
Chairman of King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies Prince Turki Al Faisal said: “Saudi Arabia has become a pioneer in the fight against terror. It has been able to eradicate it from the Kingdom through unyielding strength, determination and will.”
He noted that terror groups, operating under the banner of nationalism, socialism, communism and others, emerged in the 1950s and 60s. They then evolved into al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.The terrorists are trying to tarnish its image and the meaning of Islam, he declared before the gatherers at the forum.
“The Islamic Military Coalition for Combating Terrorism will perform its duty and confirm that Islam and Muslims have nothing to do with terror,” he remarked.
Dr. Ashton Carter, former US Defense Secretary under the term of President Barack Obama and current Director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said that the timing of the forum is appropriate because it coincides with Trump’s visit to the Kingdom.
The visit adds a new step towards stability in partnership with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries and Arab and Islamic world.
This stability is based on strategic thinking. Interests should be taken into consideration as the United States is working on protecting its own and those of the region, Carter remarked.
This reasoning pushes us towards our friends and allies, like Saudi Arabia, he explained, while underlining the need to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and uproot terrorism.
The former Defense Secretary highlighted the role of the Islamic Military Coalition for Combating Terrorism in fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while also saying that national forces in those countries need to be empowered, “because this is the only way to eliminate the group.”
Carter declared that no other country can empower this Coalition like the United States, voicing his confidence that the battle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria will be a success.
Turning to Iran and its nuclear deal, he deemed it a “dangerous problem.”
“This is not Tehran’s only problem, but the deal could not have been reached without compromising with it. This is why we need to remain strong and diligent against its actions in the region,” he added.
Franco Frattini, former Italian foreign minister and former European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security and current president of the Italian Society for International Organization (SIOI), said: “There is nothing that connects religion to extremism and terrorism.”
He stressed the need to unite ranks to combat terrorism, hailing the role played by Saudi Arabia in the region to that end and noting that the Islamic Military Coalition for Combating Terrorism will be effective in this war.
Panel discussions at the forum included global and regional experts, who addressed the most pressing issues in international security and stability, such as the nature of extremism and its forms.
They tackled the future vision of terrorism and the role of social media and their influence on extremism. Ways of combating terrorism and violent extremism were also discussed.
Over a hundred foreign experts, academics and media figures participated in the forum.