Saudi Arabia Initiates New Coalition Against Terrorism

*Source: The Tri-Country Sun Times ©

Saudi Arabia Initiates New Coalition Against Terrorism

The Saudi Foreign Affairs minister Adel-al Jubeir announced on Tuesday the formation of a 34-nation coalition to join the fight against “terrorist organizations”. The structure and manner of operations that this coalition will undertake are still not defined however and everything remains on the table.

Saudi state news agency (SPA) reported that the coalition’s base would be in Riyadh to “coordinate and support military operations”. This coalition includes UAE, Qatar, Turkey and Egypt as well African and Asian countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan and Malaysia.[1]

However Iran, Iraq and Syria were excluded from this coalition, despite Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister and crown price Mohammed Bin Salman stating that “this is not a Sunni or a Shia coalition” but rather “an anti-terrorism coalition”. Bin Salman also said that the coalition would confront “any terrorist organization that appears in front of us” and that the coalition aims to “coordinate” operations in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State (ISIL) is based.

The form and the level that each country has to contribute is yet to be specified between the member states of this new born coalition, as Al Jubeir said “the decisions will be made by individual countries in terms of what to contribute, and when to contribute it, and in what form and shape they would like to make that contribution.”

The international efforts to fight ISIL, and the recent attacks in Paris by militants of Islamic State, put pressure to Arab states to do more. However, the Yemen war and Saudi Arabia’s fight against the Houthi rebels led to a reorientation of resources and only a few attacks have been made against ISIL by Arab states. This coalition seems to be a solid step towards redirecting efforts against the jihadi group.

Moreover, Bin Salman provided a brief snapshot of the strategy that the coalition will follow to fight terrorism; diving the efforts to be made into three stages: combat the men, cut the money, and the fight the mindset.

Aside from combating the ISIL on the ground and cutting its the financial sources and channels, Saudi Arabia recognizes fighting the mindset of the group as equally important given the fact that the group has managed to recruit militants from all over the world, with Saudi’s making up ISILs second largest contingent of foreign fighters, following Tunisia.

Combating the ideology and “drowning out the message of the extremists” as Jubeir said, will be the step that might take the longest time to see some results. To this end, it seems that Saudi Arabia believes that the strategy to be followed should have a long term view.

The coalition was welcomed by the US Defense Secretary Ash Carter who said that “it appears it is very much in line with something we’ve been urging for quite some time, which is greater involvement in the campaign to combat ISIL by Sunni Arab countries”. So far, the US has been leading a coalition of 64 states in its efforts against ISIL; largely characterized by carrying out airstrikes on targets on Syrian soil.

As it concerns Turkey’s position, the country’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that “Turkey is ready to contribute by all its means to all gatherings that aim to fight terrorism, no matter where or by whom they are organized”.

This coalition comes to further populate the number of foreign involvements in Syria and Iraq after Russian and French involvement following the Paris attacks.

Saudi Arabia’s initiative for this coalition comes at a time when the country’s finances are not at their best given the huge drop in oil prices; Saudi Arabia’s main source of revenue, and after a recent costly engagement in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is expected to carry the greatest share of the costs of this coalition, both in military resources and troop engagement, and in financial resources.

[1] The full list countries include Jordan, the UAE, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, the partially-recognized state of Palestine, the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros, Qatar, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Yemen.

Independent Turkey

Independent Turkey, “Saudi Arabia Initiates New Coalition Against Terrorism″ Independent Turkey, 16 December 2015, London: Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey). Original link:



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