UAE casts global net with anti-Islamist ‘terror list’

2014-11-26 00:45:51 | Al Muslim News
UAE casts global net with anti-Islamist ‘terror list’

 

DUBAI: When the United Arab Emirates released a blacklist of “terrorist groups” this month, many prominent Western charities were shocked to find themselves cited alongside Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group. There was little surprise to see the Muslim Brotherhood topping the list, given the Gulf state’s relentless efforts against the regional Islamist group. But the inclusion of organisations such as the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Relief UK and some of the largest Muslim associations in Finland, Norway, Sweden and other European countries prompted outrage and calls from several Western governments for an explanation. By casting its net so far and so wide, experts say, the UAE is pushing its view that the fight against militant Islamism is as much an ideological war as a conventional one. The real target of the list, said Frederic Wehrey, a Gulf expert at the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is “politically active Islamism”. “[The UAE] is trying to include non-violent, Brotherhood-affiliated groups in the same ideological constellation as real terrorist groups like [Nigeria’s] Boko Haram and Al Qaeda,” he said. The wealthy Gulf state, which boasts an open society that brings together millions of foreigners of 200 nationalities, at first seems an odd choice to lead the charge against political Islam. Longer blacklist than US The UAE has never been targeted by attacks and has not seen the kind of populist protests that have shaken other countries in the region. The country’s vastly rich leaders see a real threat to their rule however from the Muslim Brotherhood, a grass-roots Islamist group that was formed in Egypt in 1928 and has expanded across the region. “I think the criteria [for the list] has been to look at anything that could have even a remote link to the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Andrew Hammond, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Middle East and North Africa programme. The UAE has pushed hard against the Brotherhood in recent years, jailing dozens of members, putting pressure on fellow Gulf state Qatar to end its support for the group and backing Egypt’s anti-Islamist president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. It has also used its increasing military power against Islamist insurgencies, bombing militant positions in Libya and joining the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq. Mustafa Alani, a security expert from the Geneva-based Gulf Research Centre, said the UAE may not be facing any “imminent or potential threat”, but is increasingly worried by “the situation across the region and security developments in Syria and Iraq”. The UAE blacklist was released on Nov 15 and included 83 groups, far outnumbering Saudi Arabia’s list of nine and even the US list of 59 designated “Foreign Terrorist Organisations”. There were several interesting omissions, including Lebanon’s powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group and the Palestinian Hamas movement running Gaza. But it was the inclusions that sparked debate. CAIR, the most prominent Muslim civil liberties group in the United States, described its listing as “shocking and bizarre”, pointing to its “many anti-terror initiatives”. “Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR’s advocacy model is the antithesis of the narrative of violent extremists,” it said in a statement. ‘Excessive alarmism’ Islamic Relief in Britain expressed similar surprise, saying it assumed its inclusion on the list “can only be attributable to a mistake”. “We abhor terrorism in all its forms,” the group said, noting its work with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, British authorities and the United Nations. UAE officials have said groups can appeal through the courts to have their names removed from the list. “This is available to organisations whose approach has changed,” the minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Twitter. In a recent interview with US broadcaster Fox News, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan suggested that those on the list were secretly backing and funding violent groups. “We cannot accept incitement or funding when we look at some of these organisations,” he said. “For many countries, the definition of terror is that you have to carry a weapon and terrorise people. For us, it’s far beyond that; we cannot tolerate even the smallest, tiniest amount of terrorism.” But Wehrey warned the UAE list could do more harm than good by “driving Islamist political movements underground”. “The UAE had long been insulated from terrorism,” he said, “but its clear partisanship and excessive alarmism could prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”.

Tags: #

Latest News

What to Next

Russian foreign minister says US ready to continue talks

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday he believed his US colleagues were ready to continue dialogue with Moscow on complex iss... More

BJP keen to amend law on permanent residence in held Kashmir

NEW DELHI: Away from the attention that Article 370 attracts, some members and supporters of the Bha­ratiya Janata Party (BJP) are steadily pushin... More

North Korea defiant after new sanctions, rejects talks

SEOUL (AFP):North Korea on Monday angrily insisted tough new United Nations sanctions would not stop it from developing its nuclear arsenal, and warne... More

Does Trump worry you? US Muslims say yes : Survey

Survey finds Muslims feel out of place in society, displeased with their president, and are targets of discrimination. The early days of Donald Tru... More

DEATH TO ISIS:Thousands flood streets in furious protest to condemn terror group

Thousands of protesters chanted slogans against the militant Islamic State group Wednesday as they carried the coffins of victims of an attack targeti... More

China says restrained in face of India

BEIJING: China accused India on Wednesday of “concocting” excuses over the illegal entry of the South Asian nation’s military into C... More

COAS, Afghan envoy discuss border issues

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa met Afghanistan’s ambassador Dr Omar Zakhilwal on Wednesday for continuing discussions on normalisation of... More

Apple removes VPN services from Chinese app store

BEIJING: Apple has removed software allowing internet users to skirt China’s “Great Firewall” from its app store in the country, the... More

IS claims attack on Iraq embassy in Kabul

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Iraqi embassy in Kabul on Monday and militants breached the compound in a complex hours-long attack claim... More

Saudi-led bloc opens emergency routes to Qatari planes

DUBAI: Four Arab states that have cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar said on Monday that they have opened up air routes that Qatari planes c... More

83