Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (BBN)-Bangladesh has joined a 34-state Islamic military coalition led by Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism, state news agency Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.
“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 a joint statement of the SPA said.
The “Islamic military alliance” consists of 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.
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. Afghanistan is also not in the coalition.
Gulf News adds: The Saudi-led alliance will be based in Riyadh “to coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism”, the SPA said, and comprises Middle Eastern, African and Asian states.
The coalition will tackle “the Islamic world’s problem with terrorism and will be a partner in the worldwide fight against this scourge” said Saudi defence minister and deputy crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud at a press conference in Riyadh.
Arrangements would be made for “coordination with friendly peace-loving nations and international bodies for the sake of supporting international efforts to combat terrorism and to save international peace and security”, SPA added.
BBC adds: Saudi Arabia has said 34 mainly Islamic nations have joined a new military alliance to fight terrorism.
A joint operations centre is to be established in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, state media reported.
Countries from Asia, Africa and the Arab world are involved in the alliance but Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival Iran is not.
It comes amid international pressure for Gulf Arab states to do more in the fight against so-called Islamic State.
Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman said the new alliance would co-ordinate efforts against extremists in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
“This comes from the Islamic world’s vigilance in fighting this disease [Islamic extremism] which has damaged the Islamic world,” Prince Mohammed said.
“Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually… so co-ordinating efforts is very important.”
The coalition would not just focus on fighting IS, he added. Few other details have been given.
The SPA state news agency said 10 other “Islamic countries” had expressed support, including Indonesia.
Prince Mohammed said: “These countries have procedures to go through before joining the coalition, but out of keenness to achieve this coalition as soon as possible, [the alliance of] 34 countries has been announced.”
In announcing the coalition, SPA stated that Islam forbids “corruption and destruction in the world” and that terrorism represents “a serious violation of human dignity and rights, especially the right to life and the right to security”.
Saudi Arabia is part of the US-led coalition against IS and is also leading a military intervention in Yemen against Shia Houthi rebels.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinians, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.