RIYADH-SAUDI ARABIA: Global coordination key in fight against terror

Franco Frattini, Italian security expert

RIYADH: Looking at terrorism as a global issue and unifying efforts internationally is key to combating the problem, security expert Franco Frattini said Sunday.

“My deep conviction has always been to address global threats such as terrorism in a global way,” Frattini, president of the Italian Society for International Organization, told Arab News on the sidelines of the Riyadh Forum on Countering Extremism and Fighting Terrorism. The idea that “we are the producers of security, and you are the consumers of security,” is the wrong approach, said Frattini, who is a former Italian foreign minister and former vice president of the European Commission for Justice, Freedom and Security.

He added: “The new approach is that ‘we are both the producers of security.’ But you have to share with me your information and I will be doing the same with you. This is what I would call equal partnership.” One of the main mistakes made while combating terrorism is trying to export a Western-style democracy to other countries, he added. “The idea of exporting democracy is a wrong one.” Better cooperation will put the security of countries in conflict in their own hands while other allies can help in offering information. “You should take care of your own security. I can share with you my information to help you and you will be doing the same with me,” Frattini said, stressing the significance of exchanging expertise and knowledge while having a spirit of mutual trust. “Unfortunately there’s a lack of trust even within the European member states group,” he said. 
“We have to rebuild mutual trust and recreate a spirit of solidarity. Global phenomena are addressed in a global way.” Frattini believes that the Muslim world, which has a common interest, needs to integrate at an international level. “My dream as an expert in global security is that with the global architecture of security, there will be another entity able and ambitions enough to engage with NATO on the basis of equal partnership. This will be a real turning point,” the Italian former diplomat said. Some European member states in NATO are “very reluctant” to push NATO to engage more in fighting terrorism, Frattini said. “This is wrong. NATO should be much more committed.” If there were a push coming from the Muslim world, it would be much easier even for NATO to engage. “Because there would be need for cooperating, need for exchanging information, need for coordinating action,” he added. Effective coordination would spare the need for Western forces “to have boots on the ground. The alternative is to earn trust of the Muslim countries. Muslim countries will (then) be able… to create an operational network to (take) rapid action against terrorism.” When it comes to the Mosul liberation operation, Frattini said he had some doubts. Sending Shiite soldiers to the Iraqi city that was under Daesh control comes with “a high risk to have revenge and violence against (the) Sunni and Kurd population instead of a lasting stability and true liberation.” He added that Sunnis in Tikrit, the northwestern Iraqi city, “didn’t feel liberated by Shiite soldiers. They looked at the Shiite soldiers as the oppressors not the liberators.” “If there’s no coordination on the ground, there’s a risk (of turning) into a messy situation,” he said, adding that a managed situation on the ground allows effective help from the West. “NATO can help for example with some warplanes, bombing activities to support ground activities. This is why I’m talking about a network… a network means better communication, better coordination on the ground.” Speaking of the roots of extremism, Frattini said that investing in the education of youth is essential. He said there should be “an educational system for imams to avoid preaching intolerance and radicalism.” He added that there are a number of preventive measures. “Military action is not the only solution. It is a complementary action including military, but not only military. Otherwise it’s guaranteed to fail.” Making the younger generation hopeful for a better future in the midst of the current conflicts and economic difficulties in the region and worldwide is a challenge. Frattini said investing in education is a key. The young generation has to continue their civic education. “They have to understand that they are part of the game. They are the protagonists. (They must be) equally interested in recreating and restoring hopes. If they are hopeless, we fail.”


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