An Important National Precedent

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Thu 19 January / Jan 2017. 01:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Thu 19 January / Jan 2017. 08:35 PM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

The German Friedrich-Ebert Foundation in Amman just issued an extensive report summarising a previous conference held on preventing and countering terrorism in the MENA region and the west. And it features in the studies works by distinguished specialists and researchers from all around; local, Arab, and international.

Notably, the Foundation’s efforts are evident in the endeavour to explore the issues of politicised Islamism, extremism, and democracy in Jordan. They have published several issues and held many productive activities on the matter at hand.

However, this latest activity entailed an interesting and important sighting, unprecedented before in seminars, conferences, or workshops in Jordan; the participation of officials and ranking officers with the Armed Forces, security agencies, and state institutions, in an obvious open engagement with the audience over the phenomenon of extremist and terrorism.

This is a precedent I would hope it reoccurs, and it does not seem to be secluded from the all-around new discourse set off by Chief of Joint Staff, Lt Gen Mahmoud Freihat, starting with his interview on BBC Arabic, which suggests a newly founded openness to society and dialogue with experts and the civil institution.

It was very useful to hear what the head of the counter extremism unit had to say, retired Gen Sharif Omari, along with statements by ranking military intelligence operatives, and officers in charge of the civil peace department with the Public Security Directorate (PSD). A number of officials, politicians, as well as Arab and foreign experts, next to an interestingly mixed crowd attended the forum.

The dialogue alone, conveying multiple takes on the matter, would help to catalyse progress in our efforts to comprehend the phenomenon, and would certainly pave to bridge the gap in collaboration between our civil and military institutions in order to address it.

Hope remains, nonetheless, that this spectacle is not a onetime thing; that it becomes an institutionalised approach, given the massive benefit that come from it; notwithstanding the exchange of views, which reinforces the State’s ability to achieve its political and media message, and cover the ridge which has long kept the Army secluded from the public and civil sphere.

More so, officials heading and supervising related departments and offices are the most capable of clarifying and communicating the State’s vision and strategies.

In many conferences and forums, as well as public podiums in Europe one often finds among attendees and speakers at least one or two officials and specialists who do not hesitate to introduce themselves to the audience, nor do they hold back on sharing their knowledge. I used to envy them for that —honestly; it reflected an appreciation of the role of scientific research and civil expertise, and a tendency to not settle for the military and security approach, knowing it is insufficient, which takes us back to the conference.

I say that the core and fundamental condition to countering terrorism is understanding extremism and terrorism thoroughly and correctly, away from stereotypical generalisations and political-media propaganda, in order to objectively analyse the phenomena. And if we succeed in studying and comprehending its factors and variables socially, psychologically, politically, and culturally, we would arrive at the conclusion that there is something terribly wrong with the standing global, regional, and local approach, particularly in the reliance on the stand-alone security-military mechanism to address extremism and terrorism, leaving out all the other aspects of the problem; political, civil, and societal.

Hence, the important question, which was raised in the forum, would be: Is the threat of terrorism going to recede after ISIS, aka Daesh, in Iraq is finished, as is expected by summertime this year?

The majority of the answer came in a clear “no”.

Quite contrarily maybe, it might lead to the crystallisation of far more dangerous phenomena, as the terror group shifts activity patterns and formulas; especially in regards to ISIS members returning to their countries, particularly women and children.

How will that pan out should the enabling factors and conditions which gave rise to terrorism in the first place endure?!

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.