Although they have been fighting Daesh for months, Damascus and Baghdad are not on the list of 40 countries in a new anti-terror coalition launched by Riyadh. A major regional rival, Iran is also excluded, unlike Qatar.
On 26 November, Saudi Arabia launched an anti-terrorist coalition of 40 Muslim countries in Asia and Africa.
At a meeting of the defense ministers of these nations, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) called for “strong, excellent and special coordination” among the members of this new coalition. “We will continue to chase the terrorists until they disappear from the earth,” the Saudi again said.
Iran, Syria and Iraq excluded
Although they have been fighting the Daesh terror organization for a long time, in sharp decline on their territory, Syria and Iraq are not included in the list provided by the official Saudi news agency SPA. Iran, Riyad’s main rival in the region, does not appear on the list of the 40 member countries of the coalition.
It should be noted, however, that Qatar is one of them, according to SPA, even if none of its ministers were present at the meeting of 26 November. Saudi Arabia accuses Doha of supporting extremist groups and, as such, Riyadh broke diplomatic ties with the country in June despite denials.
Within this predominantly Sunni coalition, there are still countries like Pakistan, Turkey or Nigeria.
“More than 40 countries send a very strong signal that we are going to work together and that we will put together our military, financial, political and intelligence capabilities,” said MBS, adding: “This will be done from ‘today and each country will contribute to its capacity.’
“Terrorism distorts the image of Islam”
Expressing its solidarity with Egypt, struck on 24 November by an attack that left 305 dead , the Saudi Crown Prince, whose country is himself accused of supporting terrorism has promised to stand alongside “all countries of the world who are fighting terrorism and extremism “.
“More than the killing of innocent people and the spread of hatred, terrorism and extremism distort the image of our religion,” said the young Saudi prince.
Pakistani General Raheel Sharif has been appointed military commander of the coalition. It will have its headquarters in the Saudi capital.
Anti-Terrorist Coalition or Advocacy?
Saudi Arabia is also a member of a US-led western anti-jihad alliance led by the United States in Iraq and Syria.
Syrian diplomacy has repeatedly criticized the monarchy’s action, accusing it of “killing more innocent civilians than terrorists” and accusing it of violating Syria’s sovereignty because the Syrian authorities have not invited to intervene on its territory.
The launch of this new coalition comes at a time when relations between Tehran and Riyadh are rather tense, the two countries have no diplomatic relations since January 2016. Their positions are also radically opposed in the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts.
In a recent interview with the New York Times , MBS called Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader, a “new Hitler of the Middle East”.
“No one in the world gives any credit to such remarks,” said Bahram Ghassemi, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry.