RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Saudi Arabia announced it has formed a new military coalition to combat Islamic extremism made up of mostly Muslim countries.
A headquarters for the coalition will be established in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. The coalition would coordinate efforts against militant Islamists in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan — including the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said extremism was a “disease” when he announced the new coalition on Tuesday.
“This announcement comes from the Islamic world’s vigilance in fighting this disease so it can be a partner, as a group of countries, in the fight against this disease,” Salman said.
But Salman said the efforts would not solely be focused on the Islamic State.
“Today there are a number of countries that suffer from terrorism, for example Daesh in Syria and Iraq; terrorism in Sinai, terrorism in Yemen, terrorism in Libya, terrorism in Mali, terrorism in Nigeria, terrorism in Pakistan, terrorism in Afghanistan and this requires a very strong effort to fight,” Salman said. “Without a doubt, there will be coordination in these efforts.”
The United States began conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State in September 2014, maintaining a leading role in the coalition campaign by carrying out about 80 percent of coalition bombing.
The Saudi announcement comes as the Western world has stepped up efforts to defeat the Islamic State, specifically after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks.
The new coalition includes Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, the Palestinian Authority, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Yemen.