With the death of several top al-Qaeda's leaders and the decline in the group's terrorist operations, Saudi security experts said greater co-operation between Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region will be crucial to eradicating corruption and extremism permanently.
Security experts told Al-Shorfa that greater co-operation between Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan would ensure safety and stability for Riyadh and the region and safeguard against any future terrorist operations. It would also prevent individuals with hostile intent from planting more seeds of extremism in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries.
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Riyadh August 27th, and the two leaders discussed improving ties between their countries. The talks focused on developing bilateral relations and establishing peace and stability in the region. They also discussed current events in Afghanistan, and King Abdullah pledged his support for peace initiatives in Afghanistan.
Mohammed al-Zulfa, a former member of the Saudi Shura Council, said the kingdom's main concern in Afghanistan is the fear that Kabul might become a breeding ground for radical movements that would give rise to terrorism which would harm the Arab and Muslim world.
Al-Zulfa described Saudi Arabia's attempts to improve security in Afghanistan as "fruitful", noting a decline in terrorist incidents in both countries.
Saudi support for improved security in Kabul is part of a Saudi strategy to prevent terrorism moving from Afghanistan to countries that share borders with Saudi Arabia, according to al-Zulfa.
"There are individuals who are trying to establish new centres for al-Qaeda terrorism in our region in Yemen and Iraq that can serve as an extension for Afghanistan, or as a second choice to those who are trying to wreak havoc in our lands. The Saudi leadership is aware of all this," he said.
Al-Zulfa said that Saudi officials are also striving to prevent Islam from being blamed as the source of terrorism by improving its image worldwide and by ending terrorism in all forms and all locations.
He said al-Qaeda no longer has a significant presence and that its activities have declined because of determined efforts by Saudi officials to cut off its funding channels.
"Al-Qaeda has lost its base thanks to the Saudi leadership's knowledge of its regional activities and its muddled objectives. We are satisfied that no one is sympathetic with the Taliban or with al-Qaeda in terms of religion or jihad after their terrorist intentions were revealed," he added.
Saudi Arabia froze relations with the Taliban in 1998 when Taliban leaders refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, the former al-Qaeda leader who was killed in Pakistan in May. Saudi officials had stripped bin Laden of his Saudi citizenship for mounting attacks inside the kingdom.
Dr. Yousef al-Rumaihi, a security advisor and professor on crime and terrorism at Qassim University in Saudi Arabia, said Afghanistan is trying to address its domestic problems, notably its reputation as a haven for terrorists and as a fertile ground for the drug trade.
Al-Rumaihi stressed the importance of the bilateral agreement between Riyadh and Kabul in the fight against terrorism, noting that terrorism represents the greatest social and economic threat worldwide since World War II.
"Afghanistan has suffered because of terrorism and drugs, and it paid dearly for it because of the deteriorating security situation," he said. "The country's mountainous terrain which is filled with caves and rugged roads provides shelter for extremist groups and allows them to grow and implement their misguided terrorist activities."
Al-Rumaihi said that enhanced co-operation between the two countries will pave the way for the development of tools to fight terrorism and the drug trade, adding that neighbouring countries need to support Afghanistan's efforts to eradicate terrorism.
He said the timing for co-operative efforts is ripe because al-Qaeda has lost several of its leaders and control over strategic locations.
"Al-Qaeda and other extremist terrorist groups chose the Tora Bora caves as a site to brainwash our Saudi sons and teach them misguided lessons so they could return home with a terrorist's mindset intent on killing, sabotage, and suicide bombing. This new Saudi-Afghan cooperation initiative might put an end to all this," he said.
Dr. Khalid al-Dakhil, a writer and researcher in political sociology, said strengthening bilateral ties between Riyadh and Kabul is "normal" at a time when the Afghan government has been harmed by terrorism for decades.
Al-Dakhil said that Saudi Arabia's interest in regional security co-operation does not end with Afghanistan but includes providing support to all countries where radical terrorist movements exist in order to stop them.
He stressed the importance of "intensifying regional political and security co-operation at this moment given the decline of al-Qaeda's influence and its terrorist activities. This provides a greater opportunity for destroying its infrastructure and eliminating it completely."