COUNTERTERROISM COOPERATION WITH THE GCC STATES; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 69
(Extensions of Remarks - April 27, 2018)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E563]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]





            COUNTERTERROISM COOPERATION WITH THE GCC STATES

                                 ______
                                 

                              HON. TED POE

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                         Friday, April 27, 2018

  Mr. Poe of TEXAS. Mr. Speaker, our historic relationship with the 
Arab Gulf states is strategically crucial. The ties we maintain allow 
us to project power to contain threats like Iran and secure key 
shipping lanes for global commerce while also providing stability in a 
chaotic region. Our Gulf partners have made clear they value their 
strong alliance with the United States.
  But our relationship has not always been perfect. The 9/11 attacks 
were a tragic wake-up call to a dangerous ideology that we had long 
ignored. Sunni extremism had established strong roots across the Middle 
East, North Africa, and South Asia. This intolerant and violent strain 
of Islam was largely able to spread so widely because it was funded and 
supported by some of our Gulf allies.
  Some would call this a betrayal: while GCC states were benefiting 
from security and stability provided by the U.S., they were fostering 
radical ideologies that sought to target and kill Americans. It is no 
coincidence that among the 19 hijackers who conducted the 9/11 attacks, 
17 came from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In part, al-
Qaeda did this deliberately to damage the GCC alliance with the U.S. 
But the high number of Saudi recruits and the fact that al-Qaeda was 
founded and led by a Saudi named Osama bin Laden, also showed that 
something was not quite right in the Kingdom. The Saudi monarchy's 
embrace of the Wahhabi ideology produced generations of young Saudis 
who despised the West and held hateful views of other religions.
  After 9/11, the Kingdom and the rest of the GCC states pledged 
cooperation with the U.S. to fight terrorism, but little was done. 
Wealthy financiers and hateful preachers continued to operate across 
the GCC. For years, many of our Gulf allies tried to play both sides of 
the War on Terror. They acted both as the arsonists and the 
firefighters. While the U.S. military launched airstrikes against 
terrorists in the region from Gulf air bases, money and recruits flowed 
to terrorist from the same Gulf countries. We were basically chasing 
our tails.
  Ultimately, not George W. Bush, nor Barack Obama, nor Donald Trump 
can convince young Muslims that al-Qaeda or ISIS's version of Islam is 
the wrong one. An American president, regardless of party affiliation, 
will never be able to effectively argue that jihad against the West is 
not the answer to the problems of the Middle East. It is only the 
leaders of the Muslim world who can make that argument.
  In recent years, we have seen progress by the Gulf states towards 
tackling the sources of extremism within their borders. They have 
recognized that this is not just the U.S.'s fight: their own security 
is at stake. The Saudis have infiltrated terrorist groups to thwart 
attacks on the West and detained radical clerics who once incited 
thousands to join al-Qaeda or ISIS. The UAE is leading the region in 
developing messaging to counter violent extremism and has prioritized 
targeting al-Qaeda in Yemen. Bahrain now hosts the region's Financial 
Action Task Force and amended its charity law to closely monitor 
terrorist financing and enact harsh penalties on violators. Kuwait has 
also intensified its charity monitoring and outlawed fundraising for 
terrorist groups online. Meanwhile, Oman remains a haven for tolerance 
and moderate Islam, effectively preventing terrorists from using its 
territory for fundraising or recruitment. Even Qatar has signed a 
memorandum of understanding with the U.S. last summer to cooperate on 
counterterrorism and has created terrorist designation lists. Trust is 
finally being restored.
  But there is still more work to be done. Many promises remain 
unfulfilled. Qatar still harbors Hamas operatives and al-Qaeda 
fundraisers. The Saudis still publish intolerant material in their 
textbooks that glorify jihad and incite hatred and violence. 
Additionally, Kuwait still has designated terrorists living freely in 
their borders. Oman remains suspiciously tied to the region's number 
one state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, and reports of arms smuggling 
through Oman to Yemen's Houthi rebels persist. No GCC member is 
contributing enough to prevent ISIS from reemerging in Syria and Iraq. 
And the Saudi-led coalition is overly focused on Iran's meddling in 
Yemen while al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula survives in the chaos.
  We need our Gulf partners to aggressively and pro-actively combat 
Sunni extremism across the region. Not to wait for the U.S. to take the 
lead or ask them nicely. All the drones and special forces in the world 
cannot destroy an ideology this deeply rooted. The fight against 
terrorism must start and end on the ideological battlefield. Treating 
the symptoms and not the underlying disease will ultimately not be 
enough.
  And that's just the way it is.

                          ____________________