RIYADH: Military chiefs from 39 countries met on Sunday in Riyadh for talks on a Saudi-initiated international ‘anti-terrorism’ coalition and lay the ground work ahead of ministerial-level meeting of member states.
Saudi Arabia announced the creation of the Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) in December, saying its members would share intelligence, counter violent ideology and deploy troops if necessary to combat extremists.
“This coalition comes to complement previous efforts exerted” in the fight against terrorist groups, Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told reporters following the talks. “We are at the stage of laying the foundations. We have not discussed specific details,” he said.
Pakistan was also represented at the meeting.
Assiri, the coalition’s spokesperson, said Riyadh has offered premises in addition to funds for the alliance’s coordination centre in Riyadh.
He said the coalition would operate within the limits of ‘UN resolutions and recognised conventions’ and respect sovereignty of member states. He added that the principle on which members of the coalition will work is based on “parallel participation of all members, and coordination and unification of efforts”.
Assiri added that the coalition is focussing on four important zones to combat terrorism including media, intellectual, financial and military.
Media and intellectual, Assiri said, was to “counter-attack the deviant thoughts of terrorist organisations and conduce to a preventive and corrective message”.
He added that the alliance’s military action will focus on confronting terrorist organisations in member states who seek the alliance’s intervention. Further, the alliance members will seek to “dry up the sources of terrorism”.
Assiri also pointed out that the member states will share intelligence work and information exchange. He said the meeting of military chiefs paved the way for a meeting of defence ministers in the ‘near future’.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2016.