On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said that 33 other Islamic nations have agreed to join it in a Riyadh-based "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism. The new group includes big nations like Turkey, Egypt, and Pakistan, as well as small ones like the Maldives, plus Libya, Yemen, Malaysia, and several African nations including Nigeria, Chad, Somalia, and Mali. It does not include Saudi Arabia's regional nemesis Iran nor Iraq or Syria.
The goal of the group will be to "coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism" in the Muslim world, and not just the Islamic State, said Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also defense minister, in an unusual press conference. "Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually... so coordinating efforts is very important."
Germany was one of the first Western countries to welcome the new alliance, with some caveats. ISIS has been helped by disagreement among various regional and national players, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told German broadcaster ZDF. "I think it's right that the opposition is forming a group but it needs to be — and this is important — part of the Vienna process that includes all countries fighting against [ISIS] like the U.S., Europe, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia but also Iran and China."