King Salman apprises PM Modi on anti-terror coalition
King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi about Saudi Arabia's initiative in bringing together 34 Muslim countries to form an anti-terror coalition. He explained the rationale for the coalition while the two leaders were discussing ways to improve co-operation in counter-terrorism. He added that he hoped the discussions would "enhance the strategic partnership between our two countries."
Saudi Arabia has stated that 34 Islamic nations have formed a military alliance "to fight the scourge of terrorism". A joint operations center is to be created in Riyadh to lead the coalition. According to reports, all members are part of the Jeddah based Organization for Islamic Co-operation (OIC). The coalition is not yet a formal entity as members still have to complete formalities.
Due to the on-going civil war in West Asia, thousands of refugees from Islamic countries have fled to Europe and other parts of Asia, seeking asylum. Saudi Arabia has also been criticized for not doing enough to stop terrorism. With anti-Islam sentiments on the rise the world over, Saudi officials citing Koran laws said they must "reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations".
Saudi Arabia is currently a part of the US-led coalition in Syria and Saudi also leads the coalition of states fighting the Houthi rebels in the civil war in Yemen.
Including Saudi Arabia, the coalition will initially comprise of 34 countries: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, 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. Islamic countries like Indonesia have expressed their desire to join the coalition as well.
Shia majority Iran and Iraq are not part of the coalition. Syria and Afghanistan have also been excluded. Saudi's fellow GCC member Oman is not part of the coalition.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the move "the best response to those who are trying to associate terror and Islam" and said it was a "step in the right direction." Former British foreign secretary, William Hague said "regional action could help curtail the growth of Islamist extremists militancy". Former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri welcomed the announcement saying it was a vital step forward.
Saudi Prince Mohammed Salman said, "Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually so co-ordinating efforts is very important." US has often stated that Arab nations must do more to combat terrorism.
Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz stated that Pakistan has decided not to send ground troops to join the 34 nation Islamic military alliance led by Saudi Arabia. Pakistani officials stated that they support the need for a solution in Syria "without interference from the outside." Officials said that Pakistan's role in the anti-terror coalition would remain restricted to intelligence-sharing and counterterrorism training.
Pakistan will develop the framework for the proposed NATO-like Islamic anti-terror coalition of 34 Muslim-majority nations, led by Saudi Arabia. The announcement was made when Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef and army chief General Raheel Shareef were in Saudi Arabia for a three-day joint military exercise. 21 Islamic nations participated in the the exercise, held in the northern region of Saudi Arabia.