Secretary-General of Shura Council Reviews Qatar's Anti-Terrorism Efforts as 'Call of Sahel' 2nd Meeting Opens in Algeria

26 February 2023

 HE Secretary General of the Shura Council and Chairman of the Association of Secretaries General of Arab Parliaments, Dr. Ahmed bin Nasser Al Fadala stressed Sunday the State of Qatar's calls for a definition and legal characterization of terrorism so that it is not exploited to stigmatize a specific religion or ethnic group as terrorist, as well as its calls for serious efforts to address the roots of terrorism.

This came in His Excellency's speech before the second meeting of the series of meetings 'The Call of the Sahel', currently held in Algeria under the theme 'Engaging societies in preventing and confronting violent extremism'. The Call for the Sahel was decided by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) during the 1st Global Parliamentary Summit on Count-Terrorism in September 2021 in Vienna.

His Excellency participated, at the invitation of the IPU, in the fourth session of the meeting entitled 'The role of religious leaders and legislators in the field of the rule of law and citizenship in the Sahel'.

In his speech, the Secretary-General of the Shura Council said that this region suffers from a high population density and a steady increase in births, amid continuous waves of desertification and environmental fluctuations that harm agricultural and pastoral production, in a region whose economy is based on agricultural and animal production. These conditions are accompanied by unfavorable economic conditions for stability and the availability of work, triggering young people to search for means of living that governments are often unable to provide, so they become vulnerable to risking illegal and unsafe migration, and falling into the traps and clutches of extremist groups that recruit young people, and make them threats to security and stability in the region or work as mercenaries that threaten the stability of states surrounding.

His Excellency highlighted that the State of Qatar launched the Silatech Foundation, which is concerned with providing thousands of jobs for Arab youth and expanding economic opportunities for them; launched initiatives to educate millions of girls and children in conflict areas; provided financial and logistical assistance to return stranded African illegal immigrants to their homelands, and hosted the Doha Forum to return foreign terrorist fighters to their home countries.

In the same context, Dr. Al Fadala indicated that the State of Qatar participated in the international efforts to combat terrorism, made significant contributions to the UN bodies concerned with terrorism, and signed an agreement with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) under which it established the International Hub on Behavioral Insights to CounterTerrorism as a program affiliated with the UNOCT office in Doha. The Shura Council signed an agreement with the UNOCT in February 2020 under which the Shura Council, on behalf of the State of Qatar, will host the UNOCT Program Office on Parliamentary Engagement in Preventing and Countering Terrorism, His Excellency said.

Thanks to the wisdom of its leadership and the confidence of the international community in it, Qatar was able to lead the reconciliations and host the dialogues of the conflicting parties in a number of countries, including Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, Chad, and Afghanistan, His Excellency said.

His Excellency addressed the axis concerned with defining the role of legislation in preventing terrorism and violent extremism as one of the five axes through which the second meeting of the Call for the Sahel aims to involve societies in preventing violent extremism and addressing the conditions conducive to terrorism, in general, and in the Sahel region in particular.

He stressed the decades-long controversy on the definition of terrorism and the extent of the impact of legislation on basic human rights, and ways to prevent the use of such legislation against minorities and political opponents and to target specific ethnic and religious groups.

His Excellency questioned the role of legislation in preventing the emergence of terrorism and combating forms of violent extremism, warning that the more legislation is enacted, the more extremists work to find tricks and technical and legal means to overcome it, especially amid the technological revolution. It is to address the roots of extremism, especially in the Sahel region, which suffers from the proliferation of incubators of extremism, and the breeding of the increasing numbers of extremists for environmental, economic, educational, demographic and security reasons, which include all the axes of the current meeting, His Excellency noted.

His Excellency called on the international community, and in particular, organizations concerned with combating terrorism, to cooperate and unify their efforts to provide reasons for stability and work for young people because they are the fuel of these actions, stressing that legislators must urge their governments and parliamentary organizations to attract maximum efforts to support youth employment and education projects, prevent the causes of tribal wars, ethnic conflicts, and disputes between pastoralists and farmers, and enact decisive and deterrent legislation to punish the leaders of terrorism and extremism.

Within the framework of activating the role of Arab parliaments and their contributions to addressing regional and international issues more effectively, the Association of Secretaries General of Arab Parliaments discussed with the IPU the best ways to support the plans and goals of Arab parliaments, His Excellency added.

The association aims, through these efforts, to support the decisions of Arab parliaments technically, in order to achieve the desired goals, His Excellency said, adding that it seeks to prepare a scientific research methodology to support pan-Arab cooperation, and Arab cooperation with the Sahel countries to form a technical nucleus between the Sahel and Arab parliaments to jointly cooperate in addressing common problems, including combating and preventing terrorism.

Dr. Al Fadala voiced hopes that the meeting would come out with recommendations that would help address the issue of terrorism and extremism in the Sahel region and serve as a model for other hotbeds of conflict and violence.