Wednesday, 08 December 2021 06:17 GMT

41 Muslim countries vow to combat terrorism in first meeting


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince vowed to "pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth" as officials from 41 Muslim countries gathered on Sunday in the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance.

"In past years, terrorism has been functioning in all of our countries... with no coordination" among national authorities, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Saudi defence minister, said in his keynote speech at the gathering in Riyadh.

"This ends today, with this alliance."

The summit is the first meeting of defence ministers and other senior officials from the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, which officially counts 41 countries and identifies as a pan-Islamic unified front against violent extremism.

The alliance was announced in 2015 under the auspices of Crown Prince Mohammed. The alliance excludes Iran, as well as Syria and Iraq, whose leaders have close ties to Tehran.
Sunday's meeting coincides with an escalation in tensions between Riyadh and Tehran,particularly over wars in Syria and Yemen and the political structure of multi-confessional Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting armed groups across the Middle East, including Lebanon's Hezbollah and Yemen's Houthi rebels.

The meeting also comes as several military coalitions, with backers including both Iran and key Saudi ally the United States, battle to push Daesh from its last remaining bastions in Iraq and Syria.

The alliance meeting in Riyadh brings together Muslim or Muslim-majority nations including Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and Turkey.

Retired Pakistani General Raheel Sharif has been appointed commander-in-chief.

The alliance aims to "mobilise and coordinate the use of resources, facilitate the exchange of information and help member countries build their own counter-terrorism capacity", Sharif said.

Egypt, which sent a military official and not its defence minister to the Sunday meeting, is reeling from a Friday attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people during prayer time.

While Daesh has not claimed responsibility, Egyptian authorities say the organisation is the main suspect.

Prince Mohammed said Friday's "painful event" was a reminder of the "danger of terrorism and extremism".

"Beyond the killing of innocent people and the spread of hatred, terrorism and extremism distort the image of our religion," he said.


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