Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince hosts officials from 40 Muslim countries in 1st meeting of Islamic counter-terrorism alliance.
Sunday the Saudi Crown Prince vowed to “pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth” as officials from 40 Muslim countries gathered in the !st 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, said Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32 anni, who is also Saudi defense minister, in his Keynote address to the gathering in Riyadh.
“This ends today, with this alliance,” he added.
The summit is the 1st meeting of defense 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 1st announced in Y 2015 under the auspices of Prince Mohammed. The alliance groups largely, although not exclusively, Sunni-majority or Sunni-ruled countries.
It excludes Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival, Shiite-dominated 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.
Just last week, the Saudi crown prince called Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “the new Hitler of the Middle East”.
Iran fired back, calling the Saudi crown prince “immature” and “weak-minded”.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly called on Iran to stop its “meddling” in the affairs of the kingdom’s neighbors.
Iran in response has accused Saudi Arabia of trying to “drag the entire region into confrontation”.
Sunday’s alliance meeting in Riyadh brings together Muslim or Muslim-majority nations including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and Turkey.
Egypt, which sent a military official and not its defense minister to Sunday’s meeting, is reeling from a Friday attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people during prayer time.
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 added.
Since his sudden appointment as crown prince, Prince Mohammed has moved to consolidate power, announcing crackdowns on both terrorism and corruption.
Late last month, the Crown Prince welcomed thousands of global business titans to Riyadh for an investment summit, showcasing his economic reform drive for a post-oil era.
The Crown Prince portrays himself as a liberal reformer.
During that summit, he declared that the ultra-conservative kingdom would adopt a moderate and open Islam.
Previously, the Kingdom announced it would cancel its longstanding ban on women driving. It is believed the crown prince was behind this move as well.