Saudi Arabia on Tuesday formed a 34-state military coalition to combat terrorism, according to a joint statement published on Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are among the Arab countries in the alliance, together with Islamic countries Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan, as well as African states.
“The countries here mentioned have decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, with a joint operations center based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations,” the statement said.
The news agency said the coalition’s formation was “a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations whatever their sect and name which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorize the innocent.”
The 34 countries participating in the alliance along with Saudi Arabia are: Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, Palestine, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d'Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Yemen.
Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman (photo) told reporters on Tuesday, in a rare press conference, that the campaign would “coordinate” efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
“There will be international coordination with major powers and international organizations ... in terms of operations in Syria and Iraq. We can't undertake these operations without coordinating with legitimacy in this place and the international community,” Prince Mohammed said without elaborating.
Asked if the new alliance would focus just on Islamic State, bin Salman said it would confront not only that group but “any terrorist organization that appears in front of us.”
ISIS, which has launched attacks on several Western targets in recent months, has issued warnings to Gulf States and has mounted a series of attacks on mosques and security forces in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a Gulf alliance fighting in Iranian-backed Houthi militias in neighboring Yemen since March. A ceasefire is set to take hold in Yemen on Tuesday alongside United Nations-backed peace talks.