The Bedrock of Stability in the Arab World: The Gulf Is Fighting The ISIS Ideology That Produces Extremism
28 February 2015
By Mshari Al-Zaydi
Over the course of three days the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi
Arabia's King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, has been receiving Gulf leaders in the
Saudi capital Riyadh: the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah;
then the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and
finally the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Since King Salman took over the reins in Saudi Arabia he has wasted no effort
in fulfilling his leadership duties, both related to domestic and foreign
affairs. And of course it is natural that his attention would first focus on
the domestic file before turning toward the Gulf.
A sort of protective wall or barrier surrounds the Gulf states, from which
their people look out in comfort in their security and safety, while the rest
of the Arab world anxiously looks in, overwrought by the calamities they are
There are dangers that concern and threaten the Gulf states. In coordinating
their efforts and unifying their visions and policies, these countries gain
strength and protection against these dangers. When their efforts are
divided, however, and viewpoints and policies collide, they are weakened.
The developing situation in Yemen is certainly one of these dangers, as it
affects everyone in the region. Yes, of course countries will have differing
viewpoints on a number of issues; this is completely acceptable and expected.
But as one concerned individual once told me: ''We are not so deluded to
think there will be agreement across the board on this or that matter. But
there are times when entertaining differing viewpoints becomes a luxury one
cannot afford, because doing so, along with what results from it in the the
political sphere, will harm everyone: the side holding the view, and the side
holding the opposing one.''
In recent days Egypt has entered the fray and begun its own fight against
terror groups, sending its warplanes to Libya to bomb Islamic State of Iraq
and Syria (ISIS) targets in the country. Meanwhile, the Gulf states are
standing shoulder-to-shoulder in support of Egypt here, and President Abdel-Fattah
El-Sisi has now called for the formation of an international anti-ISIS
coalition in Libya, along similar lines to the one fighting ISIS in Syria,
where Saudi Arabia forms the alliance's main Arab spine.
The involvement of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are essential components of any
fight against terror groups in the region, and it was based on their efforts
that the fight took shape in the first place. Here the words of Sheikh
Mohammed Bin Zayed of the UAE are pertinent. Speaking following his recent
meeting with King Salman, he characterized the relationship between both
countries as ''special,'' calling Saudi Arabia ''the main bedrock of
stability and security in the region'' and adding that with King Salman at
the helm both countries would be ''in safe hands,'' according to the Emirates
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UAE recently told this newspaper that both
countries' policies have been in harmony for a number of years now, with the
latest incarnation of this being their joint positions and involvement in the
fight against ISIS in the region, ''which wants to abduct the religion of
Coinciding with all this recent diplomatic activity in Riyadh was another
voice from the Gulf, that of Bahrain's Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad
Bin Isa Al Khalifa, who wrote on the global fight against terrorism in
Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper recently, maintaining that ''these
individuals and groups will of course ebb and flow, but it is the ideology
that must be combated and defeated.''
Yes, the Gulf is fighting the ideology that produces extremism, and not just
extremist groups. Anyone who cannot see this needs to have their vision
A Saudi journalist
and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism as well as Saudi
affairs. Mshari is Asharq Al-Awsat's opinion page Editor, where he also
contributes a weekly column. Has worked for the local Saudi press occupying
several posts at Al -Madina newspaper amongst others. He has been a guest on
numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic.