Dozens of mostly Muslim countries from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia have joined a new military alliance to combat terrorism, Saudi Arabia has announced.
The new force will be headquartered in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and will be formed of 34 countries: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinians, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman said that other nations have expressed an interest in joining the coalition and the number of partners may soon rise.
Shortly after the joint announcement, Uganda said it had joined the alliance.
The force will target extremist groups in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan, including but not limited to the Islamic State, which holds territory in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.
However, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are not included on the list of member countries and the Shia country of Iran is also notably absent.
The formation on the alliance comes after increasing pressure on rich Gulf nations to do more in the fight against the Islamic State, with many blaming the spread of extremist ideologies on countries such as Saudi Arabia.
Prince Mohammed commented:
“Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually… so co-ordinating efforts is very important.”