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Singapore calls for greater Asia-Mideast cooperation in terror war

Updated On: Dec 06, 2005

Bahrain – Both Asia and the Middle East face a common problem: Radicalisation, which leads to religious extremism and terrorism. As such, the two regions should pool their resources to solve the problem, said Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar.

    "Both Asia and the Gulf face a common security threat – international terrorism. And it can only be defeated through our common efforts," Mr Jayakumar, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Law, said in a speech at the 2005 Gulf Dialogue on Dec 3. 
     He cautioned that the war against terrorism could not be won if countries were to focus just on comprehensive physical measures. Equal emphasis must be given to addressing the extremists' ideology. 
     Mr Jayakumar noted that after 9/11, many countries have concentrated on putting in place the urgent physical and operational security measures, such as strengthening security in the aviation, maritime, port and mass rapid transport sectors. 
    They have also reviewed their internal laws and organisational structures to deal promptly with terrorist challenges. All these measures have helped to disrupt Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah networks to a significant extent. 
     However, Mr Jayakumar added, there is also an equal urgency to deal with the ideological aspects of radicalism and terrorism. He suggested that the two regions boost cooperation in three areas: Prevention, intervention and response. 
    The issue of how closely intertwined the fortunes of the Middle East and Asia are when it comes to terrorism was also raised by Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in an interview with Time magazine. 
    "If the jihadists win there (Middle East), I'm in trouble here," he said. The radicals will then have this attitude: "We've beaten the Russians in Afghanistan, we've beaten the Americans and the coalition in Iraq. There's nothing we cannot do. We can fix Southeast Asia, too.
     "There will be such a surge of confidence for all jihadists," Mr Lee added.
      That is why, Mr Lee said, the United States must be seen, if not to have prevailed or to have created a democracy in Iraq, to at least have denied the jihadists a victory. 

*Mid-East, Asia must fight radicalism together: Jaya (The Sunday Times, Dec 4)

*Region in trouble if radicals win in Mid-East (The Straits Times, Dec 5)