DUBAI: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, according to a joint statement published on state news agency SPA.

“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.

A long list of Arab countries such as Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, together with Islamic countries Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and Gulf Arab and African states were mentioned.

The announcement cited “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.”

Iran, Saudi Arabia's archrival for influence in the Arab world, was absent from the states named as participants, as proxy conflicts between the two regional powers rage from Syria to Yemen.

The United States has been increasingly outspoken about its view that Gulf Arab states should do more to aid the military campaign against the militant Islamic State (IS) militant group based in Iraq and Syria.

Confronting 'any terrorist organisation'

In a rare press conference, 30-year-old deputy crown prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman told reporters on Tuesday that the campaign would “coordinate” efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan, but offered few concrete indications of how military efforts might proceed.

“There will be international coordination with major powers and international organisations ... 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,” bin Salman said without elaborating.

Asked if the new alliance would focus just on IS, bin Salman said it would confront not only that group but “any terrorist organisation that appears in front of us.”

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab neighbours have been locked in nine months of warfare with Iran-allied rebels in neighbouring Yemen, launching hundreds of air strikes there.

Especially after a rash of attacks on Western targets claimed by IS in recent months, the US has increasingly said it thinks that firepower would better be used against IS.

As a ceasefire is set to take hold in Yemen on Tuesday alongside United Nations-backed peace talks, Riyadh's announcement may signal a desire to shift its attention back toward the conflicts north of its borders.

IS has pledged to overthrow the monarchies of the Gulf and have mounted a series of attacks on Shia Muslim mosques and security forces in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Opinion

Justice for judges
Updated 30 Jul 2021

Justice for judges

It beggars belief that a senior high court judge is incompetent to serve in the Supreme Court.
Follow the child
30 Jul 2021

Follow the child

Observe the child and give her space to explore her own instincts.
Cost of neoliberalism
30 Jul 2021

Cost of neoliberalism

Our mental health crisis must be seen in the larger sociopolitical context.

Editorial

30 Jul 2021

Judge’s elevation

A CONTROVERSY roiling the legal fraternity for a few weeks has come to a head. It was precipitated by the Judicial...
PTI’s Sialkot win
30 Jul 2021

PTI’s Sialkot win

The PML-N’s internal duality is a particularly acute factor that is dragging down the party in electoral contests.
30 Jul 2021

Attack on Chinese

AN attack targeting two Chinese nationals in Karachi on Wednesday should put the security apparatus on alert in ...
29 Jul 2021

Saudi FM’s visit

THE Saudi-Pakistan relationship is decades old and has weathered a number of geopolitical storms. Of late, ties came...
29 Jul 2021

SBP’s high hopes

THE June spike in the current account deficit notwithstanding, the State Bank doesn’t look too worried about the...
Joy and sadness on K2
Updated 29 Jul 2021

Joy and sadness on K2

Pakistan’s mountains have a commercial value that remains untapped.