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Panellists urge comprehensive strategy to counter extremism

By Raed Omari - May 23,2015 - Last updated at May 23,2015

DEAD SEA — Radicalism is a rising phenomenon threatening not only the Middle East and North Africa region as it is conventionally believed, but the entire world with no exception, government, business and civil society leaders argued on Saturday.

Participants in the closing session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) also stressed that addressing terrorism requires, in addition to security measures, a more comprehensive strategy that incorporates all ideological, educational, cultural and religious aspects.

Stressing that extremism is the region's biggest challenge, Iraq's Vice President Iyad Allawi said the rising phenomenon also has its repercussions at the international level. 

The same remarks were raised by Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Saleh Al Mutlaq, who said: "Terrorism is not plaguing Iraq alone but is spilling over. If it does, it will affect the stability and security of the entire world. We cannot expect that any Arab country can fight terrorism without the help of the international community.”

Allawi also called for adopting a comprehensive strategy to face Daesh and other terrorist organisations that is focused primarily on preventing the radicalisation of citizens, particularly young people. “A military victory will not be sufficient. We need to have one clear strategy to develop conducive political and economic environments.” 

“Terrorism does not depend on the number of people recruited but derives its power from the feebleness of societies. Justice and the inclusion of all stakeholders are instrumental in stopping terrorism and keeping it at bay," Mutlaq said, adding: "Our concern is for the period post-Daesh. If we procrastinate, we will contribute to social tensions that will lead to internal conflict.”

Espen Barth Eide, managing director and member of the managing board of WEF, and Suleiman Bakhit, founder and chief financial officer of Hero Factor in Jordan, stressed the need to incorporate the business community and NGOs in the anti-extremism efforts.


“Young people who have joined Daesh did so because they were seduced by the opportunity to be heroic. Heroism is how they sell extremism to kids,” Bakhit said, adding: “We don’t really have heroes. There is a lack of positive role models for our children. We need a different kind of heroism, one that is based on narratives of hope and tolerance.”

Mohammad Jaafar, chairman and chief executive officer of the Kuwaiti Danish Dairy Company, and Sarah Sewall, US Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, called for a close study of extremism in every country and examination of what is driving the spread of extremism. 

“Let’s X-ray the problem to determine what the needs are in Jordan as they are different from the needs in Saudi Arabia,” Jaafar said. 

Sewall stressed that each country has to implement its own action plans to counter violent extremism.


“Inclusion is a key,” Atifete Jahjaga, the president of the Republic of Kosovo, told participants, explaining: “Terrorism and extremism are countered by engaging all the layers of our societies. No one should be kept aside. Exclusion is the breeding ground of extremism.” 

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