ISIL radicals threaten our way of life

King Abdullah II of Jordan and the UAE have taken a firm line because ISIL militants pose more than a security threat. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)
King Abdullah II of Jordan and the UAE have taken a firm line because ISIL militants pose more than a security threat. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

The UAE won’t rest in the war on terror, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah stressed in a recent newspaper interview. “Our position in the fight against terrorism, by standing against terrorist acts and organisations of all forms and types, has remained clear and consistent for decades,” he said. The fight against ISIL would continue with all “necessary support”.

Now, Jordan’s King Abdullah, has reiterated just how seriously the region views the threat posed by the militants. Speaking in the US before meeting Barack Obama on Friday, the king said that the war against ISIL was a “fight between good and evil” and called for stepped up action against the group. It was clear that he didn’t speak lightly and took the broadest possible view of the poisonous hate and brutal extremism espoused by such radical groups.

In a narrower sense, of course, Jordan is severely threatened by the unrest in the region. The spillover from the Syrian civil war has swelled that small country’s population by up to 15 per cent.

But both King Abdullah and Sheikh Abdullah have highlighted the broad, dangerously existential threat posed by ISIL. Moderate, outward looking Muslim countries like Jordan and the UAE are role models that ISIL, and radicals like them, would happily see wiped out.

More than any other single topic, what is to be done about ISIL was discussed over the weekend at the Manama Dialogue, an international security conference in Bahrain. Representatives came not merely from western and Gulf countries, but from Egypt, Yemen and Iraq, all of which are threatened by the rise of radicalism.

Taken together, these developments emphasise the importance of eliminating the scourge of radicalism. What is happening in Syria and Iraq is threatening the region for two reasons. Instability is making millions homeless and driving people into refugee camps. More serious by far, is the threat that radical groups like ISIL pose to the idea of openness, innovation and equality, which characterise moderate Arab societies. This is why both Jordan and the UAE have taken such a forceful line against ISIL. Nothing would please the militants more than taking these open societies and turning them into barbaric, inward looking ones. King Abdullah and Sheikh Abdullah make clear this will not be allowed to happen.

Published: December 6, 2014 04:00 AM

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