Conditionally joining Saudi-led alliance to benefit Afghanistan
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said it had formed a 34-nation military block to fight extremism and terrorism in the Islamic world.
Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, Gulf Arab states and African Islamic states are part of the coalition aimed at protecting Islamic countries from terrorist groups and organizations irrespective of their sect and origin. Saudi also asked Afghanistan to join the military block which will collectively act against terrorists and eliminate their network.
In this regard, Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabani and Saudi Ambassador Abdul Rahman Al Ghasib held a meeting in Kabul. The Saudi envoy said Afghanistan should be part of the alliance. Rabbani said the Afghan government would decide soon to join the Saudi-led coalition.
Political analyst Najib Manalay said Afghanistan has to proceed carefully. He told Pajhwok Afghan News Afghanistan had already presented the idea of a regional coalition against extremism and regional countries had accepted that idea to some extent.
So Saudi’s coalition should not be in conflict with the proposed regional coalition and the new alliance should not be confined to Muslim countries only because China, Russia and India were partners of the Islamic world, he said.
He said Afghanistan should put two important conditions on the table before joining the coalition. “One that terrorism should not be dealt with on sect basis because Saudi supports anti-Shiite mentality while both Shiite and Sunni Muslims live in Afghanistan. The historic specialty of Afghanistan prevents sectarian violence in the country despite too much interference from outside.”
“Afghanistan’s support for Saudi against the Yemen Houthi rebels was not based on Sunni-Shia divide but against extremism of the Houthis,” he said, adding that the Saudi-led coalition should accept current challenges of Afghanistan as an issue of the Islamic world and should support the idea of a regional coalition.
Another political analyst, Khushal Khalil, said the Islamic coalition was created with initiative of Saudi, Turkey and Qatar after these countries came under pressure for supporting terrorists and because their image was bad in the Islamic world.
“In fact, the coalition is aimed to rebuild the bad image of these countries and it is not expected to be similar to NATO or any other military alliances,” he said, adding that Afghanistan was the victim of war originated from rivalries among some of the Saudi-led coalition’s partners.
Afghanistan already faced challenges and the country’s problems would increase if it did not join the coalition. “If Afghanistan joins the bloc it would at least not suffer more losses if not gets anything.”
According to Khalil, Afghanistan should present some conditions before joining the coalition and it was important that Afghanistan should determine its conditions.
He said the coalition could be successful only when its members banned financing terrorists from gulf countries.
Another political expert Ajmal Hodman said Saudi Arabia and some gulf other countries were afraid of the progress of IS militants.
“Our problem is not only IS, but Taliban and other extremist groups. The Afghanistan issue was not important for Saudi in the past because militants in Afghanistan at the time did not pose any threat to them,” he said.
“I think Afghanistan should become part of this coalition but with conditions,” Hodman said.
The first condition of Afghanistan should be that Islamic countries should not differentiate between Daesh, Al Aaeda and Taliban, he said. Banning financial resources reaching extremists in Pakistan from gulf countries should be another condition of Afghanistan, he said.
Hodman added zakat and other donations should be banned for Taliban militants before Afghanistan became member of the alliance.
Dr. Faiz Mohammad Zaland, Kabul University lecturer, also said Afghanistan’s joining of the alliance as an Islamic country was important but with an active Afghan diplomacy.
The decades-long war under the pretext of defending Islam in Afghanistan has been killing Afghans who loved peace and should join the Saudi-led bloc with a clear stance, he said.
“The Afghans are being killed because of the large amount of money from gulf countries and people of these states. This menace should be prevented in the alliance”, he added.
Another political expert Javid Ghafor held similar views and said six gulf countries in the bloc were very important for Afghanistan’s foreign policy.
He said the six gulf countries had strategic relations with their international partners and could play a vital role in Afghanistan’s peace process and could press Pakistan in fighting extremists.
He believed Taliban militants who used the excuse of foreign troops’ presence in Afghanistan for continuing their activities would be left with no excuse if Afghanistan joined the Saudi-led alliance.
Some social media users also reacted on the issue. One of them Mujib Lemar wrote “Afghanistan can gain financial support from Arab countries and find jobs for Afghan workers by joining the alliance.”
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