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Arabs must come up with action plan to end regional conflicts
November 24, 2014, 8:41 am
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GCC agreement is historic chance for Arabs to close ranks and stand united in face of unprecedented ills

Following months of talks aimed at bridging the gaps between its member states, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is back on track.

At an extraordinary summit hosted by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, an agreement was reached to end an eight-month dispute over foreign policy differences, especially with regards to Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, between Qatar on one side and the kingdom, the UAE and Bahrain on the other.

This saw the three countries recalling their ambassadors from Doha. The agreement, reached last week, means that the six members of the GCC have chosen to close ranks in the face of the increasingly multiplying regional threats, stemming from the civil strife in a number of countries in the Arab world, such as Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq.

The regional conflicts led to unprecedented sectarian and ethnic strife and the rise of ruthless terrorist groups, like Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), which seek, through cross-border terrorist actions and incitement, to destabilise regional states, undermine all development process and challenge the basic premise of Islam — the moderate and universal belief that calls for peace and fraternity among peoples of the world.

Instead, these groups espouse a doctrine of hate and annihilation rejected by all Arabs and Muslims. The threat is clear and present and must be stopped immediately. It must not be underestimated. If left unchecked, its fallout may very well wreck our region beyond repair.

The threat cannot confronted with by one state. It has to be a united front. Daesh’s sources of recruitment and financing must be drained through collective effort.

This is basically the message the GCC leaders sent out when they met in Riyadh last week. It was spelled out very clearly in the statement issued by King Abdullah, in which he called on Egypt and other Arab states to support the GCC agreement. His call was echoed by the UAE and was met with resounding support from the Egyptian leadership and the chief of the Arab League.

The Arab League has to shoulder its responsibility. It is understandable that its ability to manoeuvre depends on the political will of its members. And it is no secret that its members have not been singing to the same tune for a long time. But today, the GCC agreement and the wide support it has received from other Arab states represents a historic chance for the League to work towards closing Arab ranks and creating a united front in the face of the unprecedented ills.

Resolve shown by UAE

The Arab League more than ever needs to foster a coherent policy and action plan, aimed at ending the conflicts and restoring stability in this vital region. The international community will support any plan agreed upon by the Arab states. The policy needs resolve, such as the one shown by the UAE, which recently issued a transparent list of groups designated as terrorist.

The UAE’s move is meant to send a clear message to the world about the country’s stance against terrorism, extremism and fanaticism, to eliminate the ability of all terrorist groups that seek to undermine the security and stability to seek any form of support — to drain their resources, to prevent the religious, sectarian and ethnic incitement and the moral support for terrorist crimes.

The UAE, and a number of other Arab states, also took the bold step to join an international alliance that is launching aerial strikes against Daesh and similar terror outfits in Iraq and Syria. It is high time the Arab League did its part. The League must adopt similar measures to make it very clear that its member states and the Arab people will not tolerate the hijacking of Islam by terrorist gangs and thugs who misleadingly call themselves “Islamic”.

Such measures must be subscribed to by all member states, enforced nationally, and monitored by the League. These measures must be transparent and all countries should be accountable in applying them to ensure terrorist groups are denied not only the human and financial resources available easily to them now but also the tools of incitement such as broadcast outlets and electronic and social media.

No country is immune to the terror threat. No country can claim it has nothing to fear. The majority of the Arab world is under attack. Arabs simply don’t have the luxury of negotiating their way out of this.

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