Nigeria Joins ‘Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism’ As Saudi Arabia Presents 34-State Military Block
Nigeria has joined an Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism as Saudi Arabia formed the coalition of 34 mainly Muslim countries to coordinate a fight against “terrorist organisations”.
Countries involved in the coalition aside from Saudi Arabia, 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.
“The countries here mentioned have decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, with a joint operations centre based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations,” state news agency SPA quoted an official statement as saying.
The statement added that the coalition has “a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations whatever their sect and name which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorise the innocent,” Reuters quotes.
The coalition’s headquarters will be based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital.
Currently, there are a number of active coalitions fighting terror groups such as Islamic State (IS, Daesh, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria and Iraq.
The US-led coalition has gathered the support of at least 65 countries. However, various media reports have claimed that fewer than a dozen states are actually contributing, with American jets carrying out most of the strikes.
Moreover, the coalition has received international criticism for being ineffective. “We can state the [US-led] coalition is simulating the fight against ISIS and real terrorism and acts on its own politicized approach to the situation, which runs counter to international law, at least in Syria. Now we can see that [this happens] not only in this country. As is known, the inactivity of the actions of the [US-led] coalition was distinctly confirmed by the growing ISIS problem,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said last week.
The alliance was announced by Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s defence minister and deputy crown prince, on Tuesday.
Arab countries such as Qatar and the UAE will join the coalition, as well as Middle Eastern, Asian and African states including Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and Nigeria.
Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran and its allies Syria and Iraq were excluded from the alliance, despite the states sharing a common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Bin Salman said the states would work together to target “any terrorist organisation, not just ISIL” in countries including Iraq, Syria. Libya, Egypt, and Afghanistan.
Military operations would work in accordance with local laws and in cooperation with the international community, he added.
In an earlier press statement issued by the Saudi Press Agency, officials said the group would be led by Saudi Arabia, which would host a “joint operations centre to coordinate” efforts.
The United States welcomed the announcement of the anti-terrorism alliance. “We look forward to learning more about what Saudi Arabia has in mind in terms of this coalition,” Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told journalists in Turkey.
The Federal government is yet to make an official statement regarding the involvement of a secular state like Nigeria in a military alliance whose membership comprises 34 mainly Muslim states.