Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Saudi Arabia announces ‘Islamic military alliance’

AP, RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during a news conference in Riyadh yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Saudi Arabia yesterday said that 34 nations have agreed to form a new “Islamic military alliance” to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in Riyadh.

The alliance would be Saudi-led and is being established because terrorism “should be fought by all means and collaboration should be made to eliminate it,” an announcement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.

Islam forbids “corruption and destruction in the world” and terrorism constitutes “a serious violation of human dignity and rights, especially the right to life and the right to security,” the statement said.

The new counterterrorism coalition includes nations with large and established armies such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well as war-torn countries with embattled militaries such as Libya and Yemen. African nations that have suffered militant attacks such as Mali, Chad, Somalia and Nigeria are also members.

Iran is not part of the coalition. Oman, Iraq and Syria are also not involved.

The new Islamic military coalition would develop mechanisms for working with other countries and international bodies to support counterterrorism efforts, adding that their efforts would not be limited to only countering the Islamic State group, Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Mohammed bin Salman said at a rare news conference.

“Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually ... so coordinating efforts is very important,” he said, adding that the joint operations center would be established in Riyadh to “coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism” across the Muslim world.

Smaller member-states included in the coalition are the Maldives and Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Benin, while it does not have a majority Muslim population, is another member of this new counterterrorism coalition.

All the group’s members are also part of the larger Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia.

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