The Islamic military alliance is an alliance of 34 countries that have decided to fight against terrorism while united. The alliance is formed to fight against all armed groups and terror organizations which are involved in carrying out heinous crimes against humanity in various form of terrorism. Countries with large and established armies i.e. Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey as well as war-torn countries like Libya and Yemen are also the part of this counterterrorism alliance. In addition to these, African Countries which are massively affected by militant attacks, such as Chad, Mali, Somalia and Nigeria are also contributing in this coalition. Despite having the common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran and its allies, Syria and Iraq, are not participating in this counterterrorism alliance.
Formation of the Coalition
The formation of the coalition was announced by Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defense, on December 15, 2015. The joint command center of the alliance to coordinate and support military operations will be based in Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia. The military alliance will follow the UN and OIC provisions on terrorism.
After the formation of alliance, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said, “The coalition will fight the ISIS militant group as well as any terrorist organization that appears in front us”. He further said that, “Islam forbids corruption and destruction in the world and terrorism constitutes a serious violation of human dignity and rights, especially the right to life and the right to security”. Currently a number of nations including Arab and African countries are suffering from terrorism. This common problem requires strong and collective efforts. With the help of this alliance there will be a better coordination among member states to counter this problem.
Objectives of the alliance
The alliance is still in its formation strategy and has yet to formulate its mode of operations, but the core objectives of the alliance would be:
- To coordinate efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan
- To have international coordination with major powers and international organizations for operations in Syria and Iraq
- To counter Daish, the Arabic acronym for ISIS or ISIL
- To counter other terror organizations
- To protect all member states
Apart from the above-mentioned objectives, more specific objectives would likely be:
- To counter other international and regional terror groups like Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram
- To help in subduing terror groups in participating countries of military alliance
- To develop mechanism to annihilate terror chains within the member countries
- To help countries, not part of the military alliance, in eliminating the menace of terrorism
The formation of the military alliance will help the member countries to fight terrorism in better coordinated and effective way. The alliance is expected to share information, train, equip and provide military support to counter terrorism. This coalition would have joint operations centre that will coordinate and support military operations to combat terrorism.
The list of member states part of the Saudi-led military alliance is as follows:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- Sierra Leone
- Cote d’Ivoire
Initially, it was also announced that more than ten other Islamic countries have expressed their support for this alliance and will take the necessary measures in this regard. There are four countries which have showed their interest but have not joined yet. These countries are Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Indonesia and Azerbaijan.
Following the announcement of the Saudi-led military alliance, some member states have refused to help the alliance militarily. Svetlana Alexandrova, Tunisian Ambassador to Russia, has said that Tunisia will not provide military support to the alliance but will contribute in terms of intelligence sharing and other such efforts. Malaysia, another member state, announced that it will work with the coalition but will not provide military support and will counter terrorism in its own way. Indonesia has also opted out of the Saudi-led alliance stating that it wants to fight its war on terror using soft-approach means.
Omission of Iran
Iran, Saudi’s religious and regional rival, is not part of the Saudi-led military alliance alongside Iraq and Syria. The omission of Shia-majority countries like Iran and Iraq from the military alliance gives the impression of the military alliance as “Sunni alliance”, or that it is a tactic to contain Iran.
Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, advisor at the Saudi defense minister’s office and spokesman of the Arab coalition for Yemen’s peace, said that in order for Iran to become part of the military alliance, it must stop supporting terrorism aboard and threatening Arab and Muslim countries.
Role of Pakistan
Pakistan would be proved as most important member of this counterterrorism coalition for being only Muslim country having nuclear power and on account of its huge military power.
Pakistan’s commitment to provide troops as part of the military alliance’s efforts to combat terror would be a key to success. Pakistani government’s policy has been to not deploy its troops outside its territory except for UN Peacekeeping mission. Previously, Pakistan has twice rejected US’s offer of joining US-led alliance against ISIS.
Upcoming meeting of Alliance
After formation of Islamic Military Alliance, the first meeting of thirty four nations is going to be held next month. Meeting will be hosted by Saudi Arabia. The meeting will bring close all 34 nations bound in a coalition.