July 6, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6094

Saudi Columnist: The War On Terror Is Long Overdue

July 6, 2015
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 6094

Following the June 26, 2015 terror attacks in France, Kuwait, Tunisia, and the Sinai, Mshari Al-Zaydi, opinion page editor for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote that even if the terror attacks could be explained by each country's unique political circumstances, there is still a need to look at the comprehensive and shared picture for all the terror attacks and to deal with the deeply rooted problem. Arguing that the real problem is "the 'mentality' that dominates the consciousness of ordinary Muslims" that is nourished by "Sunni and Shi'ite sheikhs who instigate sedition in society," he wrote, "There is a fundamental flaw in the culture that produces fighters and supporters of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the [Muslim] Brotherhood," and called for a long-overdue declaration of war against these groups..

The following is the original Al-Sharq Al-Awsat English version of Al-Zaydi's article, with additional annotation.

Mshari Al-Zaydi (Image: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat)

"Does Anyone Still Doubt That 'All' Arabs And Muslims Are Involved In An Existential War With Armed Extremist Groups?"

"The United Arab Emirates has given, through law, a practical lesson after its Federal Supreme Court sentenced to death Alaa Al-Hashemi, the woman known as the Al-Reem Island ghost, who stabbed to death an American woman at an Abu Dhabi shopping mall last December. The court rejected claims that Hashemi suffers from psychological problems, instead providing evidence that she was radicalized online.

"Does anyone still doubt that 'all' Arabs and Muslims are involved in an existential war with armed extremist groups? We all saw what happened in Egypt on Monday [June 29, 2015], when the country's prosecutor-general was killed by a car bomb. The assassination coincided with the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood.

"And now, while you are reading this article, Egypt is fighting a war with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in northern Sinai. After the criminal attack that targeted Shi'ite citizens at the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque, Kuwait decided to follow a new path, declaring all-out war on armed extremists - whether belonging to ISIS or not - and taking a series of procedures, including strict legislation.

"Following the criminal beach attack in Sousse, Tunisia has also has entered into an open war with armed religious groups. President Beji Caid El-Sebsi has said that the country will take strong measures in response to the attack. Even in Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron said in recent days that ISIS poses 'an existential threat' to the West.

"But we need to see the big picture, not just the minor details. The problem is in no way limited to a specific country. It goes far beyond country-specific problems, such as the removal of Egypt's Islamist former president Muhammad Mursi; the sectarian behavior of Abdul Hameed Dashti[1] and Walid Al-Tabtabai,[2] two Kuwaiti MPs; [Tunisian president] Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali's time in office; secret plots against Rachid Ghannouchi's Al-Nahda Movement in Tunisia; or the conduct of the British police, as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) apologists claim.

The Terrorism Is A Product Of The Muslim Mentality And Of Incitement By Radical Sheikhs

"All these details limit our vision because the problem is much deeper and bigger. It lies in the 'mentality' that dominates the consciousness of ordinary Muslims, young and old, and the Sunni and Shi'ite sheikhs who instigate sedition in society. To put it differently, I acknowledge that each country has its own political circumstances and that several intelligence agencies are recruiting some Islamist groups, with or without their knowledge, to target their enemies in the Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Nevertheless, we should not lose sight of the bigger picture - the fundamental flaw in the culture that produces the fighters and supporters of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Brotherhood. This flaw is the source of the entire misfortune which has been left uncured.

"Egypt's President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi said during the funeral procession of prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat that Egypt is fighting a war with a despicable enemy, and despite a weak legal system. Therefore, he added, Egypt must introduce legal reforms to cope with the threat of terrorism.

"Kuwait's interior minister said in recent days that his country was facing a real war and that it was seeking to introduce new legislation and policies to enable it to fight terrorists and those who look up to them.

"Declaring war on those groups will reduce a heavy cost that could be caused by laxity and procrastination. It is a war we have delayed for far too long."



[1] Abdul Hameed Dashti is a Shi'ite Kuwaiti lawmaker known for his fierce defense of the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria, and who has insinuated that Bahrain's ruling family were invaders who would leave. He angered the Saudis when he claimed that the threat to Kuwait came from Saudi Arabia and not from Iran and Iraq., April 30, 2015.

[2] Dr. Walid Al-Tabtabai  is a former member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly who was affiliated with Islamist deputies. He opposed  the government's decision to allocate land for building churches and opposed the election of women to local councils.

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