Is Islamic Coalition Against Terror Necessary?

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President Buhari
President Buhari

By Benedict Ahanonu

That Nigeria is a member of the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism is no longer news but the troubling aspect is the seeming lack of popular support for that decision.
The Islamic Coalition against Terrorism put together by Saudi Arabia comprises Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, the Palestinians, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Yemen.
According to the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, the initiative will have two distinct tracks: Security and military, involving the exchange of information, training, providing equipment and providing forces where necessary.
The second track is combating ideology, involving the use of religious scholars, educators, political leaders and other experts to “drown out the message of the extremists,” Jubeir said.
This approach, according to him, will focus on how to deliver effective messages, counter extremist messages and protect the youths.
Unfortunately, the decision has generated so much heat in the polity with many decrying it because in their vague and phantom imagination, the President whom they had already accused of trying to Islamize Nigeria might have taken a step further to actualize that vision with Nigeria participating in the Islamic coalition against terror.
Although I understand the deep-rooted fears of some Nigerians given the reign of terror and sheer savagery visited on innocent citizens by Boko Haram, the unending killings by nomadic Fulani herdsmen who, are allowed to carry weapons as they traverse the length and breadth of the country and the evil called Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
Having said that, I don’t think it is an entirely wrong decision for Nigeria to be part of the coalition due to the international nature of terrorism and the need to do whatever that is legitimate to stamp out the menace of terror in our land.
Remember there is already in existence a Western coalition to fight terrorism in Syria and Iraq, necessitated by the fact that no one particular country can effectively tackle the menace and threat to human existence. If it was possible, America could have done it alone with her unique military capabilities.
There are indeed benefits to derive. For instance, it was learnt that some Boko Haram fighters and other terrorists are crossing over to Syria to train and join the Daesh so with Nigeria in the coalition, the fight will be taken to them and they will be unable to bring the act of terror upon the country.
Another point is that a good number of African countries not quite beleaguered by the threat of terrorism are members of the coalition; therefore, it will be quite absurd for Nigeria that is fighting a war on terror to be missing.
Nevertheless, it is hoped that this so-called Islamic Coalition on terror is not a veiled gang up against the interests of the Shiites and Iran in the region.
I am tempted to make this assertion because of the footprints of Saudi Arabia in Yemen where the Sa’dah War which is an ongoing sectarian military rebellion pitting Zaidi Shia Houthis against the Yemeni military is still raging and has blossomed into a full-scale civil war.
The Saudis have yet another patched coalition fighting against the Shia Houthis and some analysts are worried that the Islamic Coalition on terror may be a stronger and enlarged platform which could be used to target the Shiites and when this happens, it has the potential of conflagrating the entire region because the Iranians accused by the West of pursuing a nuclear weapons programme could form her own coalition to check the Sunni Saudis.
That is why it is not proper that the President couldn’t consult the National Assembly before taking such a critical decision with grave security implications for the county.
The question now is must Nigeria be a member of the Saudi Coalition to fight terrorism?
Much as the good intentions of President Buhari are not in doubt, it would have been more strategic and circumspect if Nigerians were carried along in the process of taking the decision to join the Saudi-led Islamic Coalition.
Mr. Benedict Ahanonu, a public affairs analyst, sent this piece from Abuja

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