Last week Saudi Arabia hosted the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh. Clearly, the Kingdom is leaning into a central diplomatic and political role in the region. We are seeing this across issues such as efforts to mediate in the Sudan conflict, bringing Syria back into the Arab League and opening channels to communicate with all the Palestinian factions.
While the meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh might appear to be routine, the timing points to the need to renew the efforts to combat Daesh and the new criminal network that plays a major role in financing it and many other terrorist groups. The Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan was very clear in the importance of raising the anti-Daesh vision to a global perspective and not to limit it to one area, such as Sahel countries. There are signs of Daesh activity from Afghanistan where there is alarm at the fast-growing capacities of IS-KH in conducting operations and moving around, with the same from Syria and Lebanon where there is a return to the operations of cells linked to Daesh.
The relaunch of the activities of the Global Coalition could be effective not just to prevent the emergence of a new wave of terrorism, but also in helping to counter the problem of narcotrafficking and its networks. The rise of criminal and trafficking networks is becoming a major challenge, not just because of drugs and their impact, but because of the damage that infiltration of corruption and criminality into the social, economic and political infrastructure of the countries could have. These groups are all linked, so terrorism and weapon trafficking are linked in different ways to these narcotrafficking networks.
This meeting in Saudi Arabia also comes at a time when the Saudis insist that dialogue with Syria is critical to reach solutions. In this context, it is important to focus on Syria’s role in countering the narcotrafficking, as this also coincides with the US anti-captagon strategy that is planned. Capitalising on the role of the anti-Daesh coalition in expanding the efforts, including a prevention strategy, and combining the interests of countering the narcotrafficking could be a complex but effective approach for countries of the region. It also presents an opportunity for the US in reengaging positively with the region and its allies to advance stability and security based on mutual interest and benefit with countries like Saudi Arabia.
Countering narcotrafficking and Daesh should be undertaken in parallel, and these goals should unite the efforts and cooperation among countries, including the US that has been conducting operations to eliminate leaders of terrorist groups in Syria, and now the anti-Captagon strategy. It is all connected, so the strategy should be aligned as well.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh