Saudi Arabia has formed a coalition of 34 mainly Muslim countries – including powers such as Egypt and Turkey – to coordinate a fight against “terrorist organisations”. The alliance was announced by the country’s defence minister and deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, on Tuesday.
Arab countries such as Qatar and the UAE will join the coalition, as well Middle Eastern, Asian, and African states, including Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Nigeria.
Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran and its allies Syria and Iraq, were excluded from the alliance despite the states sharing a common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Bin Salman said the states would work together to target “any terrorist organisation, not just ISIL” in countries including Iraq, Syria. Libya, Egypt, and Afghanistan.
Military operations would work in accordance with local laws and in cooperation with the international community, he added.
In an earlier press statement issued by the Saudi Press Agency, officials said the group would be led by Saudi Arabia and the country would host a “joint operations centre to coordinate” efforts.
Most of the countries in the coalition are currently involved in military operations against ISIL or have been targeted by the group.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have carried out air strikes against the fighters in Syria and were targeted by the group in Yemen, where they are involved in a separate war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
In August, an ISIL suicide bomber killed 15 people, mainly special forces soldiers, at a mosque in Asir province bordering Yemen.
ISIL has also targeted Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority, killing dozens in bomb attacks targeting mosques.
Saudi authorities have carried out raids detaining hundreds of suspected ISIL members and sympathisers in response.AL JAZEERA