Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: King Abdullah and the International Community’s Silence | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Smoke rises from the Tuffah neighborhood after Israeli air strikes in the east of Gaza City, July 29, 2014. (EPA/Mohammed Saber)

No country has suffered from terrorism as much as Saudi Arabia: From the initial sparks of this phenomenon during the 1990s and the hectic attacks in the early 2000s to Riyadh finally being able to encircle and force these terrorists to leave the country a few years ago. Based on Saudi Arabia’s ability to confront this battle—which represents the fiercest battle in the country’s history—the Kingdom has always been committed to sounding the alarm bell at the international level.

Saudi Arabia has been issuing warnings, offering advice and proposing initiatives to tackle this problem for years. I am certain that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, is the world’s number one leader in terms of leading counter-terror initiatives and warning of the repercussions of this phenomenon. But unfortunately the world has failed to take these warnings to heart, something that has expanded the scope of terrorism and the proliferation of terrorist organizations. King Abdullah has been disappointed by this lack of response, and this was clear to see in the statement that was issued on Friday in which he expressed his dismay at the lack of response on the part of the international community towards his 2005 call for the establishment of an international center to lead the fight against terrorism.

The motives behind the international community shirking its responsibilities here may be related to “temporary interests,” or “suspicious plans.” The reason may also lie in their search for transitory political gains, as is the case with some regional countries who collaborat with terrorist groups. It could also echo some strategies which have now been proven false, such as the “creative chaos” approach first heralded by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

At the end of the day, anyone who has remained silent about terrorism—whether we are talking about terrorist practices by groups and organizations or, more dangerously, states—will sooner or later find themselves the victims of this phenomenon.

As for Saudi Arabia, it has a successful experience in the fight against terror and terrorists. But what about the “states” sponsoring, promoting and providing terrorists with a breeding ground? Certainly, these states will be looking for help when their countries start to catch fire.

The reasons behind the King’s disappointment with the international community shirking its duties in the fight against terrorism are obvious. Had these countries responded correctly and taken action—in deeds, not words—to push back against terrorism a decade ago, then perhaps we would not be in the difficult situation we are facing today. Perhaps the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would never have emerged and spread across the region, nor would brother have turned against brother in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, all in the name of Islam.

All of this is the result of negligence on the part of the international community and human rights organizations. They have ignored their fundamental duties, instead preoccupying themselves with carrying out political agendas at the service of others.

All that remains is to note that King Abdullah was also clear in explicitly describing what is happening in Gaza as a “massacre” and a “war crime against humanity.” What is going on there is the kind of terrorism perpetrated by states. Israel is exploiting the wave of terror that has struck the region but also trying to claim that it is the victim of this, forgetting that it is perpetuating this terrorism itself.

Of course, all of this is happening in Gaza in front of the eyes of the US which does not call things by their names. As an example, Washington did not bother to explicitly describe what is happening in Gaza as a war crime or a massacre, instead being content with simple diplomatic gestures and expressing “concern” at the unfolding situation.

King Abdullah also called on the leaders and scholars of the Muslim world to speak the truth and confront the extremists who are trying to “hijack” Islam. Some of these leaders and scholars have sought to carry out their duty and history will attest to this fact. Others, however, have been deafeningly silent about this, claiming that this issue does not concern them. While some others, unfortunately, have gone even further by allying themselves with these terrorists, facilitating their mission and justifying and defending their crimes.

The question that must be asked here is: Do they really think they will be safe from terrorism?