RELYING solely on military capabilities is not enough for regional coalitions to tackle threats posed by non-state actors, according to leading experts.
This was highlighted yesterday during a session at the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC), where Saudi Arabia Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition acting secretary general Lieutenant General Abdulela bin Othman Alsaleh spoke of the importance of enhancing the reach of military alliances within different cultures and communities.
“If we have to fight a non-state actor successfully we have to comprehend and understand the actor itself, the culture, the ideology and its means of communication,” he said.
“To choose one aspect to improve coalitions, it will be the ability to put many elements of skills under the coalition.
“It should be beyond a military capability and should go all the way to the ideology, communication, fighting the financing, so that we gain legitimacy and credibility.
“It is not only international credibility but the cultural legitimacy.
“It is important to be clear that (we should have) open channels and networks to the whole world to the legitimate nations and international organisations – unless we gain this we will not gain success over the non-state actors.
“Non-state actors succeed on their appeal to certain communities in our countries.
“This is where we should fight – we should have more legitimacy than the non-state actors. Unfortunately, they have freedom and flexibility.
“Our nations cannot adopt such flexibility because we have laws and regulations.
“We cannot limit ourselves to military or security alliances, instead we should go beyond – far into the human civilisation and culture.”
Also speaking at the session was former US Ambassador to Bahrain Ronald E Nuemann, who stressed the importance of diplomatic efforts within and between coalitions.
“The most important aspect of dealing with the heavy number of alliances is the more active effort to agree on joint policies,” he said.
“Now we have coalitions without broad agreements which require two things – listening to other countries and a great deal of diplomatic efforts.
“To come to an agreement we have to almost always give up some of what you want to get, some of what you want.
“I don’t see that process very much happening in this region. We don’t see much efforts towards common goals except in some areas like terrorism.”
Bahrain’s Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Dhiyab bin Sager Al Noaimi also highlighted the need for ongoing co-ordination among coalitions.
“Fighting (terrorism) requires coalitions and alliances among global countries,” he explained.
“There must also be ongoing co-operation in exchange of intelligence and there should be centres established to support this sharing – all these are needed before terrorism strikes.
“We in the Arab-Gulf do support Saudi Arabia in establishing the anti-terror centres in the Islamic countries. This will also support countries in the world as well.”
UK Royal United Services Institute Military Sciences director Dr Peter Roberts was also part of the panel at the session, which was part of the three-day defence forum being held at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre.