Foreign Policy Blogs

GCC call to tackle global terrorism

As the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders met in Abu Dhabi, they used the opportunity to come down heavily on international terror groups. Rejecting terror in all forms the GCC expressed its solidarity with Saudi Arabia in its fight against these groups. The GCC expressed its grave concern over the growth and spread of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. So much so that the leaders called up the United Nations to set up an international centre to combat the rise of terrorism across the world in a more cohesive and coordinated form.

Interesting this call by the leaders of the Gulf nations on December 7 at the 31st Summit meet of the Gulf Cooperation Council comes at a time when Internet whistleblower site, WikiLeaks has made public diplomatic cables that revel the perception in the US Administration and its concern over the funding that the terror groups receive from donors in the mid-east nations. As reports in the New York Times quoted a classified memo sent out in December 2009 by the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton which was leaked out by WikiLeaks says that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terror groups worldwide”. It further goes on to quote her as saying that “it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority”. Other nations in the region where fund raising activities for extremist groups have also caused serious concern include the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. The classified document also points out that the al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (the group that carried out the terror attacks in Mumbai, India in 2008) and others “probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan” when fundraisers for the groups fan out to seek money for their causes.

The communiqué issued by the GCC called on the United Nations to create a Centre that will enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism through the exchange of information and expertise to watch terrorist organisations and foil their schemes. All the GCC member states have agreed to a common strategic approach to fight terrorism, sending a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable in all its forms and manifestation, and resolving to take practical steps individually and collectively to prevent and combat it. The spread of al-Qaeda was a top item of concern for the leaders. The GCC heads of state also vowed to stand with the international community in fighting terrorism. They cited the fear spread by al-Qaeda in the region; condemning terrorist plots that they said were aimed at murdering innocents, spread destruction and halt development. Analysts have warned that Gulf countries faced a range of threats, including internal ones to the stability of their regimes.

It is notable that the Saudi administration has recently been cracking down on terror suspects. Major countries in the Gulf pre-dominantly have a monarchical form of government, which understandably means that they have to seek to safeguard their regimes. In doing so the dilemma of these nations is in finding the ideal middle path – toeing the line of countering global terrorism and at the same time ensuring that they do not unwarrantedly antagonise their local communities and the global Ulema.