Islamic Countries Form Counterterrorism Alliance

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition dedicated to combating terrorism. The alliance will be led by Saudi Arabia and a joint operations center to be established in Riyadh, according to a joint statement from the state-run Saudi Press Agency. Saudi leaders said the formation of the alliance “emanates from the Islamic world’s keenness to … be a partner of the world, as a group of countries, in the fight against this disease,” according to SPA. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters traveling with him in Turkey, which has signed on to the alliance, that the announcement appears to be “very much aligned with something that we have been urging for quite some time, which is greater involvement in the campaign to combat ISIL by Sunni-Arab countries.” However, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “The fact that senior administration officials were totally unaware of plans to form a counterterrorism alliance … reflects the diminishing influence of the United States and the erosion of confidence of our closest Arab partners in America’s leadership under this administration.” Besides Saudi Arabia and Turkey, other member countries include Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, 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, and Yemen.