Against this background, it seems likely that IS, from its scattered bases in Egypt′s Sinai Peninsula, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, will be able to continue planning and executing terrorist attacks in the Middle East and beyond. But there are ways to avoid such an outcome – or at least minimise the damage.

Stop funding terror

For starters, governments and non-governmental actors in the Arab world must sever all financial ties to terrorist groups. Beyond official transfers, this means halting private efforts by individual citizens to fund terror. States in the region already have harsh legal codes; governments should enforce them more effectively against those who finance terror.

Demonstration in Tunisia on 19.03.2015 to remember the victims of the Bardo Museum attack (photo: DW/Sarah Mersch)
Prohibit and renounce: firstly, governments and non-governmental actors in the Arab world must sever all financial ties to terrorist groups. Existing laws need to be enforced more effectively if the flow of funds from private individuals to such organisations is to be halted. Secondly, religious and political leaders must spurn the jihadist movements, condemning their violent Islamist ideology with vigour

At the same time, religious and political leaders must loudly condemn the violent Islamist ideology that nurtures jihadist movements, spurning them with the same vigour that they reserve for challengers to their own authority. Qui tacet consentire videtur (silence means consent). In this case, tacit consent emboldens terrorist actors, with deadly results.

The countries of the Middle East have become associated with extremist ideologies and terror the world over. If they are to recover their reputations and restore the health of their societies and economies, they must act decisively to weaken the allure of terrorist recruiters. Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia have all made some moves in this direction, but they cannot do it alone.

Like these countries, others in the Middle East must not allow themselves to be lulled into complacency by the ostensible fall of IS as a territorial entity. Ultimately, the only way to break the cycle of terror and violence in the Arab world is to resolve the conflicts within Islam. To reach that point, however, the region′s governments must urgently pursue a two-prong strategy of interdiction and condemnation.

Moha Ennaji

© Project Syndicate 2017

Moha Ennaji is President of the South North Centre for Intercultural Dialogue and Migration Studies in Morocco and Professor of Cultural Studies at Fez University. His most recent books include ″New Horizons of Muslim Diaspora in North America and Europe″ and ″Muslim Moroccan Migrants in Europe″.

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