Faced with constant threats of human smuggling and violent extremism, Arab leaders are committing to devising shared mechanisms to face terrorism and related security risks.
Rabat – Interior ministers from the Arab world have reiterated their countries’ genuine concern for regional security.
Amid a flurry of shared security and terrorism related threats, it is urgent to come up with shared coping strategies and mechanisms, read the final declaration of the 36th summit of the Arab League’s interior ministers.
Gathered in Tunis on Sunday, March 3, officials from the Arab world appeared to put aside national differences to commit a common agenda on terrorism. Burying their disagreements, they highlighted “a shared responsibility” in securing trans-border peace and security.
In addition to promoting a common strategy to counterterrorism in the Arab world, the officials also put forward a motion to integrate their civil protection mechanisms based on recommendations from the 35th summit in 2018.
Saudi Arabia’s interior minister Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Saoud Bin Naif Bin Abdelaziz Al Saoud, whose country currently chairs the Arab League’s reunions, pointed out the “necessity to intensify collaboration” on terrorism.
Terrorism, extremism, and illicit transnational activities like human smuggling, the Saudi prince said, are not the business of any single country. Rather, they are the expression of coordinated efforts from transnational criminal groups and require interstate cooperation.
Other representatives, including Tunisia’s Hichem Fourati, shared Al Saoud’s concerns.
Despite minor differences in national approaches, the Tunisian said that a shared approach would benefit everyone in the league.
Like his Saudi counterpart, Fourati stressed the importance of joint mechanisms aimed at “increasing the operational capacities” of security services across the Arab world.
Although it has made headlines for its liberal reforms and democratic consolidation in recent years, Tunisia has been among the most recurrent targets of terrorist strikes.
Right after the success of its 2011 Arab Spring, Tunisia seethed with extremism-prone youths, many of whom filled the ranks of ISIS in its combat zones.
Fourati hinted at that dire episode for the country’s young democratic experience as well as the challenges the Tunisian government has been facing in curbing radicalization.
He argued that the prospective “shared strategy on counterterrorism” should go beyond interior and security ministries and implicate all echelons of government.
“The fight against terrorism is an issue that concerns not only security services, but it calls for a comprehensive approach that would involve the contribution of all government departments, most notably education, culture, media, religion, social development, and economy,” Fourati said.
Interior minister Abdelouafi Laftit, who led the Moroccan delegation, echoed similar sentiments.
Morocco has globally stood out for effective anti-terrorism architecture. Still, Laftit suggested, like other countries in the region, Morocco remains exposed to threats like human trafficking, smuggling of illicit merchandise, and extremism.
While the Tunis summit did not spell out a clear policy for receiving former ISIS fighters, a number of participants, including Morocco’s Laftit, suggested they would be open to those who want to come back home.
However, they stressed, de-radicalizing and facilitating socio-professional integration for former terrorists will be a considerable challenge.