Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s announcement that they would be forming a 34-nation ‘Islamic anti-terrorism coalition’, prominent Pakistani columnist and political analyst Wajahat Masood warned that Riyadh might have a hard time fighting against a phenomenon which they themselves have done so much to support over the past thirty years.

© AP Photo/ Hani Mohammed

© AP Photo/ Hani Mohammed

On Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency announced the creation of a 34-member ‘Islamic coalition against terrorism’, featuring members from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, complete with a Riyadh-based operations command center aimed at coordinating and supporting joint military operations. The coalition’s aims, according to Saudi state media, will be “to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations,” on “the basis of the right of peoples to self-defense.”

Pakistan, according to Saudi media, is one of the countries which will be participating in the coalition. Asked for comment, Wajahat Masood, a well-known columnist, political analyst, and human rights activist, broke the issue down for Sputnik.

“First of all,” Masood explained, “it is necessary to clearly define the concept of terrorism – of who the terrorists are in our understanding (the people of the world, including Pakistanis), and that of the leadership of Saudi Arabia.”

“In our understanding,” the journalist noted, “a terrorist is a person who, raising his weapon in order to force others to submit to his will – political or religious. He is one who kills for this purpose, who is ready to commit any crime. This is our definition.”

“But Saudi authorities,” according to Masood, “think of the concept of terrorism differently. To them, a terrorist is anyone who presents or may present a threat to the order which exists in that state. No other understanding exists.”

“For this reason,” the journalist says, “it is necessary to first determine for ourselves who is a terrorist and, accordingly, which groups may be considered terrorists.”

Ultimately, Masood says that he doesn’t “believe that Saudi Arabia will fight against terrorism in our understanding of the word. Moreover, it shouldn’t be forgotten that this is a government which has done a great deal to support the wave of terror which has swept the world over the past thirty years.”

Asked if he was surprised to find that his country’s participation in the coalition, the journalist said that “on the one hand, this news was surprising; but on the other, what is there that’s shocking about it? We shouldn’t forget Riyadh’s persistent attempts to drag Pakistan into their coalition in the fight against the Houthis [in Yemen]. It was only thanks to public opinion, and the decision of our parliament, that my country resisted. After all, it’s worth remembering that our government is heavily dependent on foreign aid, much of it from the Saudis, in the interests of solving it’s internal problems, including budgetary and other issues.”

Suggesting that the formation of the coalition may in fact be a sign of Riyadh’s desperation, the journalist noted that “however they may try to convince us – the whole world, of the strength and fortitude of the Saudi regime, allow me to express my doubts as to its stability and strength. Things change…and perhaps the decision on the coalition is but an attempt to prevent such change.”

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