Dubai: In the wake of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, security experts have praised the decisions to open a Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology and cut off sources of funds to terrorists as “positive steps”, but analysts warn that its too early to judge the joint Arab-Muslim-American efforts.
Riyad Qahwaji, CEO of Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, explained that the centre will conduct research on how terrorist groups function, as well as train governmental and civil society bodies on ways to spread moderation and combat violent extremism.
The centre will reportedly have a media monitoring system capable of processing as many as 100 television channels in 11 languages, according to press reports.
The centre will also host 350 technicians who will be working in the main room that is filled with computers and individual workstations.
Another centre, aimed at combatting terrorist financing has also been created called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC).
The US Treasury has described it as a “collaborative approach to confronting new and evolving threats arising from terrorist financing”.
“I believe this is a good step,” said Hassan Abu Haniyah, an Amman-based analyst and researcher on extremist groups.
“But we need to see on the ground how are the mechanism of work in both centres”, before judging the impact of the measures, especially since previous measures have not succeeded.
He added that deep-rooted problems need to be addressed in the fight against terrorism, pointing to the absence of democracy and human rights, unemployment, and poverty.
“Usually, when I give lectures, I start by asking the question of why do people in Europe become extremists since they have stable political and economic systems. But in the Arab world, I reverse the question. I would ask, why people don’t become extremists, in light of absence of democracy, poverty, and unemployment,” Abu Haniyah said.
Combating terrorism, according to the Jordanian researcher, has four channels.
They include launching war against terrorists, criminal justice, redirecting ideologies and political beliefs, as well social and political integration in the society.
Other experts rejected the view that to combat terrorism, you need first to solve political and economic issues.
“The issue of inequality, injustice and [absence] of the rule of law are a world-wide issues. They are problematic everywhere,” said Qahwaji.
“Frustration with a situation doesn’t justify violence. If I am frustrated with the situation in country X, why would I go and slaughter people in country Y?”