By Monia Ghanmi
Arab states need to reform their security institutions to restore “the dignity of the nation and the citizens” and counter common challenges, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said at the 29th Arab Interior Minister Council meeting in Hammamet on March 14th-15th.
“The Arab world has reached a decisive turning point which places the region’s countries in the face of two alternatives: carrying out swift and profound reforms or revolution will break out, with all its consequences,” TAP quoted Marzouki as saying.
He called for changing the stereotypical vision of security apparatuses as the political police. Internal security institutions also need to protect people’s money from “top thieves”, Marzouki commented.
The media can help strengthen the relationship between the police and the community, according to Saudi Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Nayef bin Abdulaziz, as it plays an important role in guiding public opinion and can bolster citizens’ participation in preventing crimes.
The participating ministers discussed the need to develop a comprehensive Arab strategy to combat terrorism, human trafficking and piracy.
The Arab region has grown more vulnerable than ever to a myriad of security risks and new crimes in light of changes in regional and global arenas, the ministers concurred. These challenges require Arab states to adopt joint action to provide security that their citizens need.
Cross-border organised crime is one of the top challenges, according to Algerian Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia. The phenomenon has spread dangerously, necessitating effective co-operation between Arab countries, he pointed out. Ransom is the primary source of financing for armed groups, Ould Kablia said.
He mentioned many incidents, where ransom money paid for release of abductees proved to be an important source of funding for terrorist groups, in addition to drugs, weapons and money laundering proceeds.
The Arab Spring produced events that will impact security and stability in all Arab states, the Algerian minister said, as they will be exploited by some organisations linked to cross-border organised crime, especially in the field of arms smuggling.
Fresh strategies and frameworks are needed within the Arab Interior Minister Council to activate security co-operation mechanisms in line with current developments, Ould Kablia stressed.
There are crimes no less serious than terrorism, he said, such as corruption, money laundering, information technology crimes, arms smuggling and kidnapping.
“There is co-operation in the field of drying up sources of financing these criminal operations through reinforcing and developing mechanisms adopted at either the national level or at the Arab and international levels,” Ould Kablia noted.
Tunisian Interior Minister Ali Larayedh concurred that current challenges require stronger co-operation among Arab security services in order to achieve safety for citizens and prevent crimes, especially originating from outside.
Countries that think they are capable of confronting these challenges alone will be disillusioned, said Yemeni Interior Minister Abdelkader Qahtan.
Jordanian Interior Minister Mohamed Raoud insisted on reviewing the rules and regulations of Arab security work to keep pace with the new developments in information and communication technologies.
Terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime and other crimes have become common security concerns for all Arabs, he added. They require co-ordination to arrive at a joint Arab security approach to combat them, prevent their spread and eliminate them, the Jordanian official said.