The historic Abraham agreements between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are a victory in the fight against extremism in the Middle East, says Dr. Ali al Nuaimi who is an adviser in the fight against terrorism for the Emirati government to the newspaper Jerusalem Post.
According to al Nuaimi, a new approach to counter-terrorism in the region has been under way for far too long, so he believes it is time to finally recognize the central place of Jews and Christians in the region’s history.
– We must gather all resources and cooperate in the fight against terrorism. The [terrorists] are to be found across borders – they are everywhere. It is our responsibility as Muslims to reclaim our religion and show it to our children as a religion of peace, says al Nuaimi.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the Emirates has developed a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy in the region, for example, sending troops to Afghanistan with the United States in the wake of the worldwide upheaval.
– Terror has no religion. Terrorists are a threat to all of us and the whole world – no country can fight terror alone, says al Nuaimi.
After decades, the Emirates have waged war against extremism within their own borders and in the world using “soft power” “- for example by providing foreign aid and education, al Nuaimi says that the strategy is an important tool that helps prevent radicalization and extremism.
Coexistence is the key to a more stable future in the region, al Nuaimi adds .
– The Jewish people and the roots of Christianity are here, in this area – not in North America or Europe. They belong here, they are part of us. Those who help Christians or Jews move from [countries like] Iraq, Morocco, Syria, Egypt are contributing to something that is a threat to all of us. Those that are part of our history should also be part of our future, says al Nuaimi.
Since the 1990s, the Emirates has expelled dozens of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Islah who preach hatred in schools, mosques and the country’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs. According to al Nuaimi, extremist preachers have “hijacked” true Islam to advance their own agenda and they have even reached the highest levels of society – for example as teachers for the royal family, among them the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed. The Crown Prince’s own experience in meeting extreme preachers has led him to develop a zero tolerance for extremism and extreme groups.
The Abrahamic agreements were approved by the Israeli cabinet during the current week after they were signed on September 15 at a ceremony in front of the White House – that was the right time, says al Nuaimi.
– We want to promote the message that our region has suffered enough and we need to break boundaries, break the ice. We looked back at what we had done for the last 70 years – it brought us nowhere, so let’s choose something else, says al Nuaimi.
According to al Nuaimi, times have changed and a new era is on the way in the region, it shows among the demonstrations against the Abrahamic agreements which were fewer than they would have been before. According to Al Nuiami, the demonstrations have also been sponsored by those who put a stick in the wheel of peace in the Middle East.
– If we had entered into the Abrahamic Agreements 20 years ago, you would have seen hundreds of thousands of protesters in many Arab cities. You did not see it now, instead you saw paid demonstrations funded by Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, [PA leader Mahmoud] Abbas and Hamas. They do not represent the Palestinian people or the Arab world. We knew it was going to happen and there was a campaign against us, says al Nuaimi.
In a recent study, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs estimated that about 90 percent of Arab social media posts about The Abrahamic agreements were negative. They also consider that this is an organized campaign to undermine the agreements. Most accounts turned out to be linked to the terrorist organization Hezbollah, the terrorist group Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) which receives large sums of aid paid by EU and Danish taxpayers – read MIFF’s articles on how PA abuses Danish aid to pay homage to and promote terrorist attacks against Israelis here. Also read the MIFF’s article on a poll conducted in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Jordan and Egypt, which shows that a majority in four Arab countries support normalization agreements with Israel. In the Palestinian Authority, the majority is against the agreement.
Dr. Mohammed Abdullah al-ali, Director General of the think tank TRENDS Research Advisory in the Emirates, agrees.
– The Abrahamic Agreements are about building a bridge to peace and it will help put out the flames of extremism. Political and religious leaders in countries such as Iran and Turkey have made no secret of their dissatisfaction with the agreements, says Al-Ali, warning that it will have consequences.
– Countries and organizations promoting a [extremist] rhetoric must realize that it is in everyone’s interest to promote peace and security. It is the only way to ensure progress and prosperity in the region, says Dr. Mohammed Abdullah al-ali.
The Saudi academic Dr. Najah al-Otaibi is a specialist in Islamic extremism, she believes that the Abrahamic Agreements can actually help to undermine the region’s anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric which has been dominant for decades.
– Hate against the ‘other faith’ fades as a result of such political movements towards peace. If you look back at major violent Islamic attacks, it turns out that they often cited the Arab-Israeli conflict or the hatred of non-believers (kuffar) to justify their terrorist attacks – they even justified their terrorist attacks with the claim that they serve Muslim interests against non-Muslims, says Dr. Najah al-Otaibi.
– In the face of better access to education in the region, combined with some of the governments’ efforts to address such views, attitudes are changing for the better. The future is in the hands of the younger generation. The idea that Israel or other non-Muslim countries are enemies will disappear with the new tolerant generation, says Dr. Najah al-Otaibi.
Although some Muslims see the Abraham agreements as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause, Nuaimi says there is no better alternative than the path of peace. Read MIFF’s article in which the former Saudi intelligence chief and prince calls a spade a spade in his criticism of the Palestinian leaders: – Palestinian leaders have been “a failure” for 70 years.
– In many cases, we have considered their [Palestinian] cause as a priority, not our security or national interests. We have been very supportive, trying to help negotiations along the way and supporting the peace path, but we ended up getting tired of their [Palestinians’] agenda and negotiations. Every time we brought them a good solution, they said no. When they came back years later and wanted it, it was no longer on the table, Nuaimi says.
According to Nuaimi, the Abrahamic agreements are not “for Israel”, but rather for what the Emirates believe is right for the region and suggest that the Abrahamic agreements are only the beginning of more agreements.
– This is an opportunity we should not miss. That is why we encourage others to do the same, Nuaimi concludes.