ABU DHABI // Joint Arab armed forces, under the Arab League or other organisations, is needed to counter the spread of terrorism across the region.
“Violent extremist groups linked to foreign powers must not be tolerated by the international community,” said Riad Kahwaji, founder of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.
“The threat of these groups, especially if they have an ethnic or sectarian agenda, is likely to spill over beyond the boundaries of their own state, so they are not a domestic threat but an international one.”
Mr Kahwaji was speaking at the second day of the Fourth Generation Warfare forum.
“An Arab alliance or the creation of a joint Arab armed force could be the first strong step in the direction of creating our capabilities and enhancing them to deal with this threat,” he said.
Dr Jamal Al Suwaidi, director general of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, said terrorists were seeking to “penetrate into societies and spread their ideas by using technology, and in the name of religion”.
“These actors are invisible and try to spread instability in communities, so we must shed light on the character of these wars and explore future prospects to prepare to face them constructively,” Dr Al Suwaidi said.
Terrorist groups attacking governments have spread rapidly across the region in the past years, especially in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Other recommendations included working on a strategy to analyse new types of warfare, using scientific research and education to protect countries, and increasing cooperation between regional research centres.
Dr Al Suwaidi said regional research and study centres had to help decision-makers educate their nations.
“If we at the ECSSR have dedicated this conference for this warfare, we are ready to cooperate with other centres in the Arab region to coordinate and organise more seminars to discuss new security threats,” he said.
“It is one of the most controversial subjects during this critical period the Arab world is going through.
“This state of instability has led to internal insurgencies and repercussions that have deeply affected the region.”
Countries across the Middle East will have to develop their capabilities and strengths, including their young people, to be ready to face such conflict, he said.
Dr John Ballard, dean of the National Defence College in the UAE, said it was hard to predict the exact nature of future wars.
“We are trying to develop an agility, flexibility and creativity of mind so that when we go forth, when our national leaders encounter these circumstances, they will be prepared for the unexpected and they will be able to deal with the chaos and uncertainty,” Dr Ballard said.
“We don’t talk about having one formula or one approach.”
The experts agreed that countries should work under the umbrella of the UN Security Council or other organisations to deal with the threat of extremism.