- 34 countries form an Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism
- Alliance will be led by Saudi Arabia
- Arch-rival Iran not involved
Saudi Arabia has announced the creation of a 34-state majority Islamic coalition to fight international terrorism.
A joint operations centre is being set up in the capital, Riyadh.
The Saudi government’s announcement cites “a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organisations, whatever their sect and name, which wreak death and corruption on Earth and aim to terrorise the innocent.”
Saudi Defence Minister Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told reporters the alliance will coordinate the combat against extremists.
However, few concrete details of the arrangement were given.
“Today, there are a number of countries that suffer from terrorism, for example Daesh in Syria and Iraq;terrorism in Sinai; terrorism in Yemen; terrorism in Libya; terrorism in Mali; terrorism in Nigeria; terrorism in Pakistan; terrorism in Afghanistan. This requires a very strong effort to fight. Without a doubt, there will be coordination in these efforts.”
Is Saudi Arabia involved in other alliances?
Riyadh is part of the US-led coalition against ISIL.
It also has a leading role in the military intervention against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Are any Islamic countries not involved?
Shi’ite Muslim Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia’s arch rival for influence in the Arab world, is not on the list of countries involved.
The two countries are involved in proxy conflicts including Syria and neighbouring Yemen.
For nine months, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab neighbours have been locked in conflict with Iran-allied rebels in Yemen. A ceasefire is due to start there on Tuesday, alongside UN-sponsored peace talks.
Insiders say Riyadh’s announcement may signal a desire to shift its attention back towards the conflicts north of its borders.