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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 February 2018

UAE announces new organisation to fight rise of extremist groups

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, tells Security Council regional diplomatic initiative will bolster battle against ISIL and other extremists.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, at the UN Security Council in New York. Wam
Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, at the UN Security Council in New York. Wam

NEW YORK // The UAE has unveiled to the UN Security Council its plans for a regional diplomatic initiative to build cooperation and help to find solutions in the war on terror.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told the council on Wednesday that the UAE hoped its Contact Group on Countering Extremism would strengthen coalition efforts against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

Dr Gargash also addressed the Houthi crisis in Yemen, and the battle against ISIL in Libya, where he urged the UN to lift its arms embargo and adopt a “muscular posture”, the state news agency Wam reported.

He praised international efforts to disrupt ISIL’s financing, stem the flow of foreign fighters and counter the use of social media by extremist groups.

But the UN’s work to prevent conflicts would be bolstered by more consultation with concerned states and regional organisations, he said.

Such groups are crucial to international security and must be used and supported by the Security Council, Dr Gargash said.

He said the UAE was committed to the UN charter and its governing principles of justice and international law.

Resolutions adopted by the UN had been crucial in the global campaign against the threat of extremism, but the root cause had to be tackled.

To achieve this requires a global mix of zero tolerance, regional cooperation and inclusion of all stakeholders, Dr Gargash said.

On Yemen, he commended the Security Council, Jordan and the UK for ensuring the GCC was consulted in a resolution demanding the withdrawal of Houthi rebels from government institutions.

Implementing that resolution was now the main challenge in Yemen, Dr Gargash said.

This month, the UAE and several western and Middle East countries closed their embassies in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

The GCC has called on the UN to take forceful action to prevent Yemen’s collapse after the Shiite rebels took over.

Dr Gargash said the UAE was committed to the legitimate government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, who fled house arrest last Saturday and then retracted his resignation.

He called for the release of Yemeni prime minister Khaled Bahah from house arrest, and urged a return to the political process that was derailed through the use of force by the Houthi militias.

With regards to Libya, Dr Gargash said the UAE was outraged over the continuous terrorist attacks there and in neighbouring nations.

He reiterated the call for the UN to lift the arms embargo and allow other nations to provide weapons to the internationally recognised government.

But Dr Gargash said a political strategy must be accompanied by muscular posture, because extremists and terrorists were taking advantage of international mediation.

The UAE was one of 60 nations at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, in Washington this week.

There, the US-led coalition said it had made strategic advances on the ground against ISIL.

At the summit, Dr Gargash said the UAE supported a moderate agenda in the Middle East, and one that opposed terrorism, extremism and hateful propaganda.

He said the country showed its opposition to ISIL and other extremist organisation through various means, including its sponsorship of the Council of Muslim Elders, the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and the Hedayah Centre for Countering Violent Extremism.

“Dismantling and disproving Daesh’s powerful brand, and the hateful ideology that informs it, needs to become one of our most urgent and important goals in the fight against violent extremism,” Dr Gargash said.

He stressed the need for the international community to make a concerted effort to counter ISIL’s recruitment by restricting its propaganda on social-media networks Facebook and Twitter.

“Violent extremist groups everywhere have increasingly focused their resources on creating a powerful brand that they use to radicalise and recruit the most vulnerable members of our societies.”

In September last year Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, spoke of the importance of winning both the intellectual and the military battle against ISIL.

Sheikh Mohammed called the group a “barbaric and brutal organisation”, whose ideology should be countered with enlightened thought and open minds, tolerance and appreciation of differences.

nalremeithi@thenational.ae