GCC unified in its support for Paris
London - Government officials and religious institutions in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been unified in their condemnation of the “heinous” terrorist attacks in Paris.
The day following the November 13th assaults, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, the Council of Senior Scholars, the only body in the kingdom authorised to issue fatwas, unequivocally condemned the attacks in Paris, stressing in a statement that: “Terrorists are not sanctioned by Islam and these acts are contrary to values of mercy it brought to the world.”
In Vienna, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir extended his condolences to the government and people of France, underlining that the terrorist acts “are in violation and contravention of all ethics, morals and religions.”
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long called for more intensified international efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and shapes,” Jubeir added.
This year the Islamic State (ISIS) has launched a wave of terrorist attacks within the GCC, mainly in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, revealing three branches of the terrorist organisation in the region. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris.
In the United Arab Emirates, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan “expressed the UAE’s condemnation of these terrorist acts and extended his heartfelt condolences to the French government, the friendly people of France and the families of the victims, expressing his hopes for a speedy recovery by the injured”. He also stressed the UAE’s solidarity with France and its support to fight and eliminate terrorism, an official statement said.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are members of a US-led international coalition conducting air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. The kingdom also works closely with Washington in its war against al- Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Since September 2014, French warplanes based at Al Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi have been flying missions against ISIS in Iraq.
In Qatar, the Foreign Ministry condemned the “armed attacks and bombings” in a statement cited by official agency QNA, saying they “contradict all moral and humanitarian principles and values”.
There were also strong condemnations from Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
Also joining the global outcry was the influential Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In a statement, OIC Secretary-General Iyad bin Amin Madani condemned in the strictest terms the terrorist attacks perpetrated in France, while reaffirming the OIC’s “unwavering solidarity and support to France at these critical and painful circumstances”.
Madani called upon all governments, international organisations and civil society institutions to close ranks and engage in a concerted joint action to combat terrorism, which he described as “the arch-enemy of humanity at large”.
The regional condemnations come days after similar denunciations were made after an ISIS attack in Beirut.
ISIS launched a number of attacks in Saudi Arabia in the last year with the goal of stirring sectarian strife within the majority Sunni kingdom. This resulted in a crackdown by Saudi authorities reminiscent of its pursuit of al-Qaeda more than ten years ago.
In July, Saudi security authorities said they had thwarted operations sponsored by ISIS and arrested more than 400 individuals allegedly affiliated with it.
ISIS has been exceptionally successful in its ability to recruit members globally and GCC states have been no exception. This has prompted authorities in the region to crack down on individuals involved in establishing and maintaining militant websites and social media accounts.
This also led to independent activists in Saudi Arabia and the UAE joining the fight in cyberspace by launching an organised campaign designed to identify ISIS social media accounts and subsequently closing them down. The online campaign has shuttered hundreds of accounts belonging to ISIS or its sympathisers.
In September, a Kuwaiti court sentenced seven men to death for their roles in a Shia mosque bombing claimed by ISIS, the bloodiest attack in the Gulf state’s history.
A total of 29 defendants, seven of them women, had been on trial on charges of helping a Saudi suicide bomber carry out the June 26th attack which killed 26 Shia worshippers and wounded 227.