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Saudi Arabia Unveils 'Islamic Military Alliance' Against Terrorism

The coalition includes nations with large armies such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well as war-torn countries such as Libya and Yemen.
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Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism.

The announcement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency said the coalition is being established because terrorism "should be fought by all means and collaboration should be made to eliminate it."

The statement said Islam forbids "corruption and destruction in the world" and that terrorism constitutes "a serious violation of human dignity and rights, especially the right to life and the right to security."

The new counterterrorism coalition includes nations with large and established armies such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well as war-torn countries with embattled militaries such as Libya and Yemen. African nations that have suffered militant attacks such as Mali, Chad, Somalia and Nigeria are also members.

Saudi Arabia's regional rival, Shiite Iran, is not part of the coalition. Saudi Arabia and Iran support opposite sides of in the wars raging in Syria and Yemen. Saudi Arabia is currently leading a military intervention in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels and is part of the U.S.-led coalition bombing the Sunni extremist ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The United States has been increasingly outspoken about its view that Gulf Arab states should do more to aid the military campaign against ISIS.

Turkey, the only country in the alliance that is also a NATO member, welcomed the new coalition. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called it the "best response to those who are trying to associate terror and Islam."

"We believe that this effort by Muslim countries is a step in the right direction," Davutoglu said.

At a rare news conference, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said the coalition's efforts would not be limited to only countering ISIS.

"Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually ... so coordinating efforts is very important," the 30-year-old said, adding that the alliance would confront "any terrorist organization that appears in front of us."

He said the joint operations center will be established in Riyadh. Bin Salman said 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.

Iraq and Syria, whose forces are battling to regain territory taken by ISIS and whose governments are allied with Iran, are not in the coalition.

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