A day after admonishing Iran to dismantle its “network of terrorism,” the United States joined the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in signing an agreement in May 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to work more closely to choke off funding for extremist groups and to prosecute donors.
The memorandum of understanding was signed during talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Gulf leaders on the final day of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. White House adviser Dina Powell said she hoped the agreement would be the “farthest-reaching commitment to not finance terrorist organizations” and that it would go beyond dismantling networks to prosecuting those involved in financing the organizations.
“The unique piece of it is that every single one of them are signatories on how they’re responsible and will actually prosecute the financing of terrorism, including individuals,” she said.
The agreement also provides for the creation of a center to combat terrorism funding, the state Saudi Press Agency reported. Efforts to counter terror financing stem from the understanding that military force alone cannot eradicate Daesh, said Mohammed al-Issa, secretary-general of the Saudi-based Muslim World League.
“We know these groups can only be defeated if we defeat their ideology,” he said.
In a speech he gave during his time in Riyadh, Trump called on Muslim nations to “drive out” extremists. He emphasized that Muslims were the primary victims of these attacks and that “young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence and innocent of hatred.”
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have a history of working to counter the terrorists’ financial networks with assistance from the U.S. So do other key allies in the region such as Oman, praised for the transparency of its financial system that hinders criminal money laundering.
Expanding his contacts with GCC leaders, Trump held talks with rulers of Qatar and Bahrain ahead of the formal summit, and later also met the emir of Kuwait. He had already met His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in Washington in March 2017. Just before Trump’s Saudi trip, he was visited at the White House by His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the Armed Forces.
Sheikh Mohammed said the GCC-U.S. summit clearly reflected the importance of its member states in dealing with regional issues in cooperation with global allies, particularly the U.S.
Given the situation in the Middle East, Sheikh Mohammed said, the summit was an important opportunity to exchange views with the president on issues such as the security of the Arabian Gulf, terrorism and the complicated crises in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and other areas.