Riyadh reveals 34-nation army forming Islamic alliance against 'terrorism'

Riyadh reveals 34-nation army forming Islamic alliance against 'terrorism'
Saudi Arabia has built a new military coalition of Muslim-majority countries to fight non-state armed groups.
2 min read
15 December, 2015
Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman said the campaign would coordinate efforts to fight terrorism [Getty]

A new military coalition of 34 countries has joined forces to fight "terrorism" in the Islamic world, Saudi officials revealed on Tuesday.

Arab countries including Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Muslim-majority countries Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan have come together with several African states, said Riyadh.

The coalition, which will be based in Riyadh, "will be a partner in the worldwide fight against this scourge", said crown prince and defence minister Mohammed bin Salman. 

The Saudi-led alliance does not include the kingdom's regional rival Iran. Neither Syria nor Iraq are included.

"These countries have procedures to go through before joining the coalition, but out of keenness to achieve this coalition as soon as possible, 34 countries have been announced," the 30-year-old prince told a rare press conference.

     The coalition will fight 'any terrorist organisation that appears'

The campaign will coordinate efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan, but officials offered few concrete indications of how military efforts might proceed.

The United States has called for broader international participation in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, saying Turkey needed to do more to control its borders with Syria, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states had been distracted by the conflict in Yemen.

The coalition will fight "any terrorist organisation that appears", Mohammed said, when asked if the alliance would concentrate exclusively on fighting IS.

The announcement is the latest in a more assertive Saudi foreign policy since King Salman ascended to the throne in January and named Mohammed, his son, as defence minister.

In March the kingdom formed an Arab coalition of about a dozen countries to support the government of Yemen against the Houthi rebels and their allies, who seized much of the country.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have, however, assumed the main roles in that coalition.