By Demian E Barrett,
Due to the fact that Crown Prince Salman ordered the murder of Journalist Khassogi, plans for a NATO type coalition of suggested by Trump has been stalled.
Building on their success in building a coalition of Sunni Muslim Countries to fight in their proxy fight against Shia Iran in Yemen, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is extending the logic and creating the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC). The inaugural meeting took place in Riyadh on November 26, 2017. Composed of 41 countries including Turkey, Jordan, and Malaysia, the goal of the force is to stop terrorism from crossing borders, by delegitimizing the terrorist ideology, use media to give an alternative narrative, interrupt the terrorist financing, and coordinate militarily in the fight against terrorism.
Notably absent from the list of Muslim countries participating is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The absence of which lays bare one of the fundamental goals of Saudi Arabia is to stop its regional Rival Shia Iran from gaining any more influence in the Muslim world. Other major Muslim nations such as Indonesia and all of the Muslim majority countries from the Soviet Union were also absent Saudi Arabia makes no bones about who is in charge. All logistics, legal, and financing will be overseen by Saudi Arabia. The coalition is to meet on an annual basis unless events require sooner.
Saudi Arabia’s main concern maybe checking Iran but the other member of this coalition have real and dangerous conditions that require cooperation among other Muslim nations. The common enemy for the coalition is the armed ultra crazy Muslim fanatics that use their Salafi/Wahabi interpretation of Islam to cause mayhem and destruction to other Muslims. The two groups that carry the banner for this mentality are Al Qaida and ISIS ( although, one wonders about the origins of ISIS).
In Egypt, Al Qaida is very active in the Sinai killing Egyptian Muslims. In NIger, Mali, and Nigeria face a similar threat in Boku Haram and Al Qaida. Pakistan has been in a byzantine like conflict with the Taliban and the Haqqani Group. Turkey considers the PKK and the YPG terrorists and Saudi Arabia has had its own Al Qaida inspired attacks. So each country has its own reasons to be part of this coalition.
So, the relevance of the IMCTC is immediate and the coalition has immediate goals and they are:
Launch and sustain a journey to build a better tomorrow for generations to come, rooted in a consistent and global message that reaffirms the Islamic principles of tolerance and compassion, and counter the narrative of violent extremist ideology through presenting the true nature of Islam and supporting ideological, psychological, and social reforms.
Objectives to Counter Extremist Ideology
- To promote the essence of Islamic principles, teachings, culture and heritage.
- To align and correct the understanding of religious principles.
- To undertake a grassroots approach that promotes the Islamic values of moderation and welcomes diversity and values human life.
- To achieve a wide range of positive effects on intellectual, psychological and social levels related to terrorism throughout the Muslim world.
Develop, produce, and disseminate factual, scholarly and engaging content on Coalition-owned or third-party communication and media platforms and channels, with the aim of undermining the appeal of violent extremism, instilling hope and optimism, and measuring the impact on mindsets and behaviors.
Objectives to Create a Common Narrative
- Counter the media discourse and appeal of violent extremists and terrorist organizations.
- Showcase the richness, cultural and intellectual diversity of Islam through promoting the moderate values of Islam.
- Promote and support credible influencers throughout the Islamic world to propagate the moderate values of Islam.
Counter Terrorism Financing
In collaboration and coordination with member countries competent authorities in Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF), promote best practices, advance legal, regulatory, and operational frameworks, and facilitate information sharing to support prevention, detection, and seizure operation
Objectives to Counter Terrorist Financing
- Promote best practices and build coalition member countries’ capabilities in countering terrorist financing.
- Promote a supportive environment to enable sharing of CTF related information among member countries and international organizations.
- Support CTF competent authorities in member countries to possess required procedures and mechanisms for prevention, detection, reporting and prosecution operations related to CTF.
- Develop and operationalize legal, regulatory and operational frameworks related to CTF in member countries.
When requested, assist in the coordination of resourcing and planning of member country military operations, facilitate the secure sharing of military information, and encourage military counter terror capacity and capability building to deter aggression and violence.
Objectives of Military Cooperation
- Promote and build an effective system to discourage terrorist organizations and stop their attempts to cause harm to nations, communities and individuals.
- Strengthen and fill in critical gaps in counter terrorism military capabilities in member countries.
- Develop a framework to assist in military capacity building, training and knowledge sharing programs to counter terrorism in member and supporting nations.
- Provide a platform to member countries to seek military assistance in counter terrorism capacity building and military support from partners and supporting nations.
A possible outcome from this exercise is that these Muslim nations will generate a dialogue within the Muslim world about the values that drive the terrorist agenda and why it is inimical to Islam. A secondary outcome will be the continuing identification of Muslims at large of being part of something larger than their own country. The flip side to this positive possibility is that the core religious interpretation that drives these terrorists derives from the very same interpretation of Islam that is taught in Saudi Arabia. The only exception is that the terrorists take it the logical conclusion. The challenge for Saudi Arabia is to square this contradiction. Muslim nations like Lebanon who are also a member have to worry that their participation does fan the flames of sectarianism in their nation.
Muslims around the world condemn the violent actions of those terrorist who perpetuate these horrors upon innocents. And for too long, it has been Non-Muslims defining the narrative. The IMCTC seeks to change that reality and it is about time. One measure of its success will be who else becomes part of the coalition. If Iran should join, than everyone would consider it a success.