Yemeni government launches comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy

Yemen's military plays a role in the counter-terrorism strategy. Above, soldiers from Yemen's Central Security Forces are seen in Sanaa. [Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters]

Yemen's military plays a role in the counter-terrorism strategy. Above, soldiers from Yemen's Central Security Forces are seen in Sanaa. [Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters]

  • Print this article
  • increase decrease

The Yemeni government on Tuesday (September 18th) approved a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, forming a committee of ministers to implement and co-ordinate the strategy.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi had directed the government to discuss and adopt the strategy in accordance with a proposal submitted by the country's Supreme Security Committee.

The strategy seeks to address the phenomenon of terrorism by drying up terrorist funding sources throughout the republic, assisting Yemen's Committee on Military Affairs - established under the Gulf initiative - in restoring security and stability and educating the public on the dangers of terrorism and extremism.

Security and military authorities will be entrusted with implementing the security aspects of the strategy while the Yemeni government, political parties and civil society organisations are to focus on its political, economic, cultural, social and intellectual aspects.

The implementation of the strategy will also coincide with extensive media coverage to highlight the seriousness of the threat of terrorism on Yemeni society and the region.

Success factors

"The existence of a genuine will forms the basis for the success of this strategy, [as is] a comprehensive vision to implement the strategy simultaneously and on several fronts," said Dr. Ahmed al-Daghashi, professor of Islamic pedagogy and philosophy at Sanaa University.

"[So is] a broader focus on [the strategy's] educational, intellectual and economic aspects and giving these priority over the military and security solutions in the medium and long term," he added.

Al-Daghashi told Al-Shorfa it is important to enlist help from experts and specialists in tackling the intellectual, economic, social, political and cultural facets of addressing terrorism.

"The most important success factor lies in the availability of capabilities, which calls for the help of the international community to Yemen, not only on the security and military fronts, but also on others, including the economic front, to avoid providing an encouraging environment for terrorism," he said.

"Educational institutions - be they families, mosques, political parties or civil society organisations - must work to spread and disseminate the culture of peace so it can serve as a stabilising factor and get rid of the culture of al-Qaeda," al-Daghashi said.

These institutions must also highlight the Arab Spring revolutions "for their great achievements in embodying the principle of peaceful change, not change through the use of violence, which al-Qaeda advocates," he added.

'Divisions will undermine any counter-terrorism effort'

Implementing a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy is an urgent need, according to Dr. Fares al-Saqqaf, director of the Centre for Future Studies.

Al-Saqqaf underscored the necessity of combining official and popular efforts in the fight against terrorism, saying that national security stems from intellectual, cultural, economic and political solutions rather than from security and military ones.

"[If all] segments of society, [political] parties, civil society organisations and schools participate in an all-inclusive implementation of the strategy, alongside responsible media that address the issues and educate the public, this would tighten the noose on terrorism," he said.

Saudi and Egyptian successes in fighting terrorism caused the phenomenon to decline in these countries, and Yemen should draw from these two experiences and apply it to the country's reality, al-Saqqaf said.

The success of the strategy hinges on reconciliation in Yemen and the success of the national dialogue, he said.

"Divisions will undermine any counter-terrorism effort," al-Saqqaf added.

'Drying up the wells of terrorism'

Mohammed Azzan, a researcher specialising in Islamist groups, told Al-Shorfa that Yemenis must focus on many different aspects of terrorism to combat the phenomenon.

"The existence of such a strategy is of utmost importance," he said. "We need to focus on the intellectual and media aspects [first] in order to ensure the success of other aspects, since thought creates a stance and the media promotes it."

It is also important to concentrate on the economic aspect, he said, saying that "destitution and hunger create a climate suitable for al-Qaeda to recruit youth".

Azzan said civil society organisations and political parties can promote a spirit of tolerance and non-violence by way of organising courses and activities to raise awareness against terrorism.

"The work of these organisations can access the dark reaches where al-Qaeda operates, and dry up the wells of terrorism," he said.