This new group will not only fight IS, but also take on other terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – Saudi Arabia announced the creation of a new Muslim state coalition on Monday that will counter terrorism in the region.
The Saudi-led, 34-nation coalition will share information and train, equip and potentially provide forces in the region to take on extremism.
It is an announcement welcomed by the U.S., as the Obama administration has consistently called for both local actors and other members of the U.S.-led, 65-member coalition fighting the Islamic State to do more.
This new group will not only fight IS, but also take on other terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday.
Member states include: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, the Comoros Islands, Qatar, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, the Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Yemen and Palestine.
Notably missing is predominately Shi’ite Iran, the nemesis of largely Sunni Saudi Arabia.
“The objective of this coalition is to bring all these countries together and say we recognize there is a problem and that action is required,” Jubeir said following a meeting in Paris on the Syria crisis, the Associated Press reported.
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said Monday that the coalition will “target all terrorist organizations in the Islamic world,” DefenseNews reported. Many African nations in the coalition are fighting Boko Haram, a group that in March was enveloped into IS.
The coalition’s joint operations center will be based in Riyadh.
“This is not a substitute or a replacement for the 65-member coalition,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest clarified Tuesday, adding that the Saudi-led force will mitigate “online radicalization efforts.”
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is currently on a trip through the Middle East, asking partner countries to contribute more to the fight against IS.
A Saudi-led coalition in the region would have the ability “to promote what we know is necessary in the long run for the defeat of ISIL in Iraq and in Syria,” Carter said from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, “which is the replacement of their tyrannical rule with local rule that gives a decent life back to people.”
The U.S. has been combating IS in Iraq and Syria as the lead of a 65-member coalition, largely dropping bombs on the militants and assisting civilians and indigenous forces. This U.S.-led coalition believes that the only end to violence in Syria must include a political transition away from the current government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria, under President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile have also formed a separate coalition to fight IS.
Russia and the U.S. have expressed interest in forming a global coalition to fight IS, but, as Carter reiterated from Turkey, “Because they’re off on the wrong foot, we can’t associate ourselves with Russian strategy until it changes.”
Saudi Arabia is involved in a separate conflict, fighting Shi’ite Houthis rebels who currently hold the Yemeni capital Sana’a. Yemen is engaged in a civil war and Saudi Arabia supports the formal government, fighting the Houthis since March.