Friday, January 27, 2017

Without naming Pakistan, UAE slams state-backed terror

India and UAE would work together to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and perpetrating acts of terrorism. A joint statement issued at the end of the visit by the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan declared "strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, and declared that there could be no justification for terrorism anywhere."
Though the statement did not mention by name, it was clearly aimed at Pakistan. It said, "The two sides condemned efforts, including by States, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries. They further deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all States to control the activities of the so-called 'non-State actors'."
India has stepped up diplomatic pressure against terrorism. UAE has been increasingly uneasy, confronting as it is the twin dangers of Pakistan-supported terror groups in close proximity and the looming threat from Daesh/ISIS. The most recent reminder was the killing of five UAE diplomats in Kandahar — the Taliban asserted it was not their doing. The UAE is reluctant to openly condemn the Taliban which it had supported in Afghanistan in the 1990s, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. A security team from the UAE has just returned from Afghanistan after investigating the attack in Kandahar. Minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the government would take appropriate steps after the team submits its report. For the time being, the government is being circumspect on the possible outcome of the investigation.
But with indications that it may have been the work of the Haqqani network, with help from ISI, as the Kandahar police chief stated, the UAE is in a bind. Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network is now also the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban, so it would be difficult to insulate the Taliban from responsibility. But it reinforces the Indian position which does not distinguish between good and bad Taliban/terrorists considering both a threat. The attack has provided fresh thrust to the UAE's current approach of countering extremist ideologies that have created groups like al-Qaida and now ISIS/Daesh. The same UAE which was a supporter of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, after 9/11 decided to send troops to fight al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
Today, the Emirates, through numerous state-sponsored organisations like Hedayah, is working with schools, Islamic clerics, and governments to steer away from extremist ideologies, weed out extremism from school curricula and even tailor the message clerics deliver to the faithful. Within UAE, the Friday sermons delivered by the imams are written and vetted by a government department on Islamic affairs to make sure the message is of "tolerance, moderation" etc. It shows the growing alarm coursing through these societies about radicalised Islam becoming an existential threat. "There is a close relationship between extremism and terrorism. Not every extremist becomes a terrorist, but every terrorist is first an extremist," said state foreign minister Anwar Gargash, to Indian journalists in Abu Dhabi this week.
"We have a problem within Islam, within Muslim societies, while the Islamisation of states are also contributing to growing extremism," he added. There is a growing sense that countering terrorism is key to maintaining what they call the "UAE model" - a modern, tolerant Muslim nation. It is actually one of the anchors that have drawn India and UAE to each other in recent years.

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