Saudi: deploying anti-ISIS troops not ruled out

Riyadh announced earlier on Tuesday the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism

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Saudi expects more countries to join its newly formed anti-terror alliance, its Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said at a briefing in Paris on Tuesday, adding that boots on ground might be included to fight militants.

He made the statement after Saudi Arabia announced earlier on Tuesday the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, a move that has been welcomed by the United States.


Meanwhile, Jubeir said Saudi Arabia’s Islamic anti-terror alliance will share information and train, equip and provide forces if necessary for the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Jubeir said the new Muslim-state alliance will work with big powers to battle the militants, saying “it is time for Muslim world to be united to fight terrorism.”

“Nothing is off the table,” al-Jubeir said when asked whether the initiative could include troops on the ground.

“It depends on the requests that come, it depends on the need and it depends on the willingness of countries to provide the support necessary.”

Meanwhile, the minister emphasized that the new alliance is not Sunni or Shiite.

Jubeir also said Saudi is participating in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS militants, which was launched since last year.

The alliance

Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are among the Arab countries in the alliance, together with Islamic countries Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan, as well as African states.

"The countries here mentioned have decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, with a joint operations center based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations," the statement said.

The news agency said the coalition’s formation was "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 terrorize the innocent."

The 34 countries participating in the alliance along with Saudi Arabia are: Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, Palestine, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d'Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Yemen.

Coordinating efforts

Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman told reporters on Tuesday, in a rare press conference, that the campaign would "coordinate" efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

ولي ولي العهد الأمير محمد بن سلمان
ولي ولي العهد الأمير محمد بن سلمان

"There will be international coordination with major powers and international organizations ... in terms of operations in Syria and Iraq. We can't undertake these operations without coordinating with legitimacy in this place and the international community," bin Salman said without elaborating.

Asked if the new alliance would focus just on Islamic State, bin Salman said it would confront not only that group but "any terrorist organization that appears in front of us."

ISIS, which has launched attacks on several Western targets in recent months, has issued warnings to Gulf states and have mounted a series of attacks on mosques and security forces in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a Gulf alliance fighting in Iranian-backed Houthi militias in neighboring Yemen since March. A ceasefire is set to take hold in Yemen on Tuesday alongside United Nations-backed peace talks.

Meanwhile, Germany’s defence minister said on Tuesday she welcomed Saudi Arabia’s announcement.

Ursula von der Leyen told German broadcaster ZDF the alliance would be of help if it joined other countries fighting ISIS, adding that militants had gained strength from disagreement among various opposition parties on how to fight or who to protect.

(With Reuters, AFP)

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