(From Reuters)

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism.

Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman

The announcement by 30-year-old deputy Saudi crown prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman cited “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.”

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.

Shi’ite Muslim Iran was absent from the states named as participants.

In a rare press conference, prince Salman said the campaign would “coordinate” efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

Military operations would work in accordance with local laws and in cooperation with the international community, he added.

Coalition ‘may worsen Sunni-Shia conflict’

The coalition created by Saudi Arabia could be used in conflicts between Sunnis and Shiites, Amin Shalaby, the executive director of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, told Sputnik Tuesday.

The expert said this new coalition raises a few questions. “The first question- whether it is the replacement of the Arab League’s proposed idea of the United Arab Armed Forces?”

“Second — it is clear that the Islamic Coalition is represented by Sunni countries only; will it not play into the hands of the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites? This is the most dangerous potential development for the region at the moment,” said Shalaby.

“I believe this move is an extension of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia, leading the fighting in Yemen, considering the statement of Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman that the coalition will not be limited only to the struggle against Islamic State [also known as Daesh]” said the politician.

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