RIYADH — The Malaysian Armed Forces’ presence in Saudi Arabia will remain to provide humanitarian assistance and contribute to rebuilding efforts in Yemen if and when needed.
In light of the latest terror attacks in the Middle East, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said, the presence of forces in the kingdom signified Malaysia’s resolute stand with Saudi Arabia in maintaining the security of the cities of Makkah and Madinah.
“At the beginning, our troops were based here to provide the necessary assistance and to facilitate evacuations of Malaysians in Yemen,” Hishammuddin said at the Conference to Support Legitimacy in Yemen here.
“However, we cannot deny that instability in the region surrounding Saudi Arabia will serve as an avenue for terrorist groups to flourish.”
Hishammuddin, who is also the special functions minister, said Malaysia and Saudi Arabia must coordinate approaches and be more vigilant against any groups or ideologies that could jeopardise and undermine the Muslim community, particularly in the Middle East.
He said countering the export extremism from the Middle East was crucial at a global level to ensure peace and stability.
“The threats we face in Southeast Asia are deeply intertwined with developments in this part of the world, evident in Marawi City in the Philippines,” he said.
“Together with Saudi Arabia, we should be constructive and innovative, striving to bring conflicting parties together to resolve their differences. As brothers, we must repair breaches of peace and limit human suffering.”
Hishammuddin said many misconceptions of Islam needed to be rectified, and the true image had to be promoted holistically.
He said a proactive measure between the two nations was the establishment of the King Salman Centre for International Peace earlier this year, which focuses on the “soft approach” of countering narratives and ideologies that underpin terrorism and radicalism.
“Saudi Arabia can be a beacon of hope in an unsettled world by pursuing and promoting conflict prevention, the peaceful resolution of disputes and sustainable peace-building,” he said.
“We applaud the kingdom’s vow to eradicate the remnants of extremism.”
Hishammuddin said international efforts to promote peace must be strong to ensure a brighter future, and far more needed to be done to prevent war and sustain peace.
“This conference is a strong display of the trust and respect we have for each other, reaffirming our commitment to address matters of mutual concern,” he said.
“We must all learn to work not just for ourselves or our nations but for the benefit of all humankind.”
Hishammuddin also condemned the terrorist attack on a police bus in Manama, Bahrain, on Sunday.
He said Malaysia stood in solidarity with the country against violence aimed at destabilising order and security of Bahrain.
“Nothing justifies taking innocent lives. We would like to convey our sincerest condolences to the leadership and people of Bahrain,” he said.