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Saudi Arabia forms Islamic counter-terrorism coalition

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said that 34 nations have agreed to form an “Islamic military alliance” to fight terrorism with a joint operations centre based in the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh.

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

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

The 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 terrorist attacks such as Mali, Chad, Somalia and Nigeria are also members.

Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Shiite Iran, is not part of the coalition. Saudi Arabia is currently leading a military intervention in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels and is part of the U.S.-led coalition bombing the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

At a rare news conference, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said the new Islamic military coalition will work to counter the Sunni extremist Islamic State group and develop mechanisms for working with other countries and international bodies to support international counterterrorism efforts.

“Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually … so coordinating efforts is very important,” he said.

Smaller member-states included in the coalition are the archipelago of the Maldives and the island-nation of Bahrain. Other Gulf Arab countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are also in the coalition, though notably absent from the list is Saudi Arabia’s neighbour, Oman.

But Iraq and Syria whose forces are battling to regain territory taken by the Islamic State group and whose governments are allied with Iran are not in the coalition.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/saudi-arabia-forms-islamic-counterterrorism-coalition/article7990718.ece

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