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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Why Nigeria Needs to Refrain From Membership of the Islamic Military Alliance

 Premium Times: December 31, 2015.

"In the joint statement released by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the formation of the Islamic Military Alliance to fight terrorism, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that 34 countries “have decided to form a military alliance to fight against terrorism led by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a joint operations center shall be established in the city of Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism and to develop the necessary programs and mechanisms for supporting these efforts.” The statement further stated that “more than ten other Islamic countries have expressed their support for the alliance and will take the necessary measures in this regard, including Indonesia.” Nigeria is not only listed as a member of the alliance but also as a country that has confirmed to support and play military roles in the alliance."

"It has been over two weeks since the Saudi government announced the alliance. Yet, Nigerian government claims that it has not confirmed its position in the alliance. However, evidence appears to show that Nigeria has not only confirmed to support the alliance but also has “opted to assist militarily.” It behoves the Nigerian government to rebut this claim with a strong public statement to the Saudi government, if truly Nigeria did not give its consent before the boxes were ticked for Nigeria. The continued silence of Buhari-led government on a serious foreign policy issue as this, rather speaks volume about government’s insensitivity to the pressing issues facing the country. This insensitivity has been symptomatic of past administrations in Nigeria. Not even the change mantra has changed it."
"It is the collective responsibility of Nigerian citizens to engage with the government to ensure that the decisions of the government reflect the expectation of the citizens. In the interest of Nigeria as a sovereign and secular state, the government of Nigeria must not join (if it has joined in principle it must withdraw) the Islamic Military Alliance."
"To conclude, the Nigerian government must withdraw its steps from joining the alliance, particularly within the context of the “Islamic” label attached to the alliance. The pockets of evidence from the crises in the Middle East have shown that there are different interpretations of what is Islam or terrorism, even within the supremacy of Saudi Arabia. Also, the government should not forget that Saudi Arabia is facing the worst economic downturn in its history with a budget deficit of $98 billion in 2015, which suggests Saudi’s declining power in the Arab world, hence a conviction that Saudi Arabia may be hiding under the guise of alliance to spread across countries both economic costs and otherwise, while it strives to maintain its supremacy in the Arab world. The non-inclusion of key players in the region- Iran, Iraq, and Syria- should be a tell-all sign that the intentions of Saudi Arabia for pushing forth the alliance are intrinsically hidden. Therefore, the focus of the government must be to make decisions that not only reflect Nigeria’s commitment to credible international action, but also favour all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation."
 To read the full article, visit Premium Times.

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