Saudi Arabia to Lead UN Counter Terrorism Initiative (AMERICAN THINKER) By Brooke Goldstein and Zack Kousnetz 06/14/12)
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If the UN were to form an anti-terrorism group dedicated to attacking
the menace on a global scale, who do you think would be asked to lead
it? A nation with a proven track record of anti-terror initiatives? A
nation that esteems human rights and freedoms above all else?
Unfortunately, in the case of the UN Centre for Counter Terrorism
(UNCCT), the answer is emphatically neither.
The UNCCT was formed in September 2010 with the purpose of executing
the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted by the General
Assembly in 2006. In a move more befitting Alice in Wonderland than
the United Nations, Saudi Arabia was named chair of the organization.
The Resolution that created the UNCCT highlighted four key "pillars"
in the fight against terrorism. The first of these pillars, "tackling
the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism," was undermined
almost immediately upon the organization´s establishment. Three
months after the UNCCT´s formation, WikiLeaks exposed a trove of
diplomatic cables in which Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
wrote "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-
Qa´ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups, including
Hamas." Clinton´s US embassy cables also revealed Saudi resistance to
prioritizing the issue in terms of its own domestic policy.
These revelations are perhaps not so surprising in light of the Saudi
kingdom´s lukewarm response to terrorism funding and recruitment
within its borders. Remember when, in the months following the 9/11
attacks, Saudi Arabia denied the fact that 15 out of the 19 hijackers
were Saudi citizens, before eventually confirming the undeniable
truth in 2002? Even worse, this past February two former US senators
involved in the 9/11 inquiries suggested in separate affidavits that
the Saudi government may have played a direct role in the attacks
It´s an ironic twist that the UN appointed Saudi Arabia, a country
historically labeled by groups like the CATO Institute as a state
sponsor of terrorism, to chair the flagship effort to end such
practices. The UN´s actions speak to a certain cluelessness it
exhibits as a governing body: the organization bows to diplomatic and
political courtesies while ignoring what´s happening on the ground.
The designation is also farcical in another sense. Saudi Arabia´s
human rights record blatantly contradicts the UNCCT´s fourth
pillar, "ensuring respect for human rights against the backdrop of
the fight against terrorism," as evidenced by the nation´s treatment
of its own citizens. Amnesty International´s 2012 Report details the
state´s numerous abuses: public demonstration is forbidden, females
face harshly oppressive discrimination in both the law and society,
citizens are subject to torture and confinement for excessive periods
of time without due process of law, etc. And the Amnesty
International report is not even comprehensive. For example: it fails
to mention LGBT rights or the fact that homosexuality in the Saudi
kingdom is a capital offense.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia´s state-sponsored curriculum continues to
foster a learning environment of intolerance and discrimination. As
detailed in the Hudson Institute´s Center for Religious Freedom´s
recently published report, the Saudi Kingdom´s academic curriculum
for grades 1-12 contains textbooks that disparage Christianity and
Judaism and tutors on the subject of jihad and war against
nonbelievers. In 2010, a special investigation by the BBC´s Panorama
discovered that part-time schools "teaching the official Saudi
national curriculum" in the United Kingdom were imparting messages of
anti-Semitism and homophobia to young Muslim students, as well as
illustrating how to punish thieves by cutting off the criminal´s hand
It is no secret that Saudi Arabia holds a strong anti-democracy
stance, as exemplified in March 2011 when the kingdom sent troops
into Bahrain to help repress protests during a government crackdown.
Freedom of expression is nearly non-existent; a draft of the nation´s
own anti-terror law leaked in July 2011 would suppress free speech
and could punish blasphemy with death.
The greatest irony of all is the UN´s failure to come up with a legal
definition for the act of terrorism while purporting to fight it with
projects like the UNCCT. While the Comprehensive Convention on
International Terrorism has been in the works since 2000, the UN
General Assembly Sixth Committee (Legal) has reached an impasse in
negotiations. The result is that the UNCCT exists without any clear
international definition the word "terrorism."
The standoff is the outcome of maneuvering by the Organization of
Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a 57-member voting bloc that represents
itself as the "collective voice of the Muslim world." The group
refuses passage of any Sixth Committee Resolution defining terrorism
unless it exempts certain kinds of conflicts, such as "armed struggle
against foreign occupation." This means that, according to the OIC,
attacks on civilians would not constitute terrorism as long as they
were citizens of a so-called "occupying power." This is obviously
The UN must first facilitate a consensus between states on the
definition of terrorism if it is to effectively combat the threat.
Furthermore, it´s incumbent upon all Western democracies and
especially the Obama administration to lobby for the removal of Saudi
Arabia from the UNCCT. The UN needs to stop playing political games
when human lives are thrown into the mix; terrorist groups will
continue to survive as long as there are nations that remain lax on
enforcement and bodies like the UN that reward complacency. Only an
international campaign that possesses both legitimacy and resolve has
the potential to eradicate -- or at least suppress -- terrorism.
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