On Friday, December 14, 29 countries participated in the third ministerial meeting of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum in Abu Dhabi. Like the previous meetings (in September 2011 and June of this year), the meeting ended with countries initiating new action on issues of counterterrorism. Specifically, the United States pledged to spend an additional $2 million on counterterrorism training. The participating countries also adopted an action plan to help victims of terrorism. The meeting marked the opening of the world’s first international center of excellence on counterterrorism. At the launch of the GCTF in September 2011, the UAE pledged to open such an organization, and Friday marked the inauguration of the International Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism. The location of the meeting provided a regional context, as many participants talked of the need to counter the extremism and violence espoused by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and similar groups.
However, despite its necessity and its progress, the GCTF has been surrounded by controversy since its inception. Despite Israel’s long history with terrorism and counterterrorism, the GCTF has failed to include the country in all three of its meetings, mostly at the behest of Turkey, a co-founder of the GCTF (alongside the US). Though the US has emphasized its determination to include Israel in the forum, such inclusion has so far been impossible.