7 Reasons Why Saudi Arabia's New "Terror Fighting" Coalition Is Doomed

Published January 17th, 2016 - 06:47 GMT

In mid-December, Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a broad coalition of Muslim countries dedicated to “fighting terrorism” across the Muslim world. The coalition, said the Kingdom’s inexperienced defense minister, Mohammad Bin Salman, would include 34 Muslim countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and would be headquartered in Riyadh. The goal would be to combat Daesh and other extremist groups which Bin Salman did not name.  

While the notion of Muslim countries taking a greater role in fighting Daesh and other fanatic Islamic groups is to be applauded, Saudi Arabia’s new coalition is fraught with problems. Here are 7 reasons why.  

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saudi arabia mosque

The Saudi Arabian government has for years financed Wahhabi clerics and Wahhabi madrassas around the world which spread the exact kind of fanatic Islamic dogma that forms the heart of Daesh’s ideology.

war in iraq

Saudi Arabia says its new coalition will fight “terrorism” in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but none of those countries are included in the coalition.

third world country

On the other hand, the coalition includes countries like Benin, Gabon, Guinea, Togo and the Maldives, which have little military experience. Some of these countries are third-world nations that can scarcely feed their own citizens and do not have the cash or the equipment to be waging costly wars overseas.

muslim brotherhood rally

What’s more, some of the more powerful nations in the coalition have profound disagreements about what constitutes “terrorism.” Turkey, Sudan & Qatar, for example, are Muslim Brotherhood supporters, while Egypt & the UAE consider the Brotherhood a terror group, according to a smart column in Huffington Post by Daniel Wagner & Giorgio Cafiero.

“The constituent members of the new coalition...are themselves deeply divided on a number of key policy areas,” one Gulf affairs specialist told The Wall Street Journal. “The probability that it can become an effective international security alliance is therefore almost zero.”

“The constituent members of the new coalition...are themselves deeply divided on a number of key policy areas,” one Gulf affairs specialist told The Wall Street Journal. “The probability that it can become an effective international security alliance is therefore almost zero.”

pakistan prime minister nawaz sharif

Other countries that Saudi Arabia claimed were part of the coalition--including Pakistan, Lebanon and Malaysia--said they hadn’t been consulted about joining. Pakistan said it only learned of its supposed involvement from the media.

shia sunni map

Perhaps most disturbingly, though, the 34-country coalition mostly falls on the Sunni side of the Sunni-Shia divide: the coalition only includes one country with significant Shia influence--Lebanon--and even that’s problematic: Lebanon said the coalition “tamper[ed] with [its] status” in the fight against Daesh. (image: NYTimes)

iran fighting isis in iraq

The coalition also leaves out Iran, which is leading the campaign to eradicate Daesh in Iraq.

saudi military parade

Analysts have said Saudi Arabia’s announcement is likely more an attempt to increase its own status in the region than it is a sincere effort to combat extremism. “This event is...a Saudi effort...to be the leader of the Islamic world,” one expert told CNN.

saudi arabia mohammad bin salman

Bin Salman was vague about what the coalition will actually do to combat extremism, saying only that it would “coordinate and support military operations” across the Muslim world. A recent New York Times editorial ominously commented: “Just what that means is unclear, but it could be a license to find enemies everywhere.”

saudi arabia mosque
war in iraq
third world country
muslim brotherhood rally
“The constituent members of the new coalition...are themselves deeply divided on a number of key policy areas,” one Gulf affairs specialist told The Wall Street Journal. “The probability that it can become an effective international security alliance is therefore almost zero.”
pakistan prime minister nawaz sharif
shia sunni map
iran fighting isis in iraq
saudi military parade
saudi arabia mohammad bin salman
saudi arabia mosque
The Saudi Arabian government has for years financed Wahhabi clerics and Wahhabi madrassas around the world which spread the exact kind of fanatic Islamic dogma that forms the heart of Daesh’s ideology.
war in iraq
Saudi Arabia says its new coalition will fight “terrorism” in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but none of those countries are included in the coalition.
third world country
On the other hand, the coalition includes countries like Benin, Gabon, Guinea, Togo and the Maldives, which have little military experience. Some of these countries are third-world nations that can scarcely feed their own citizens and do not have the cash or the equipment to be waging costly wars overseas.
muslim brotherhood rally
What’s more, some of the more powerful nations in the coalition have profound disagreements about what constitutes “terrorism.” Turkey, Sudan & Qatar, for example, are Muslim Brotherhood supporters, while Egypt & the UAE consider the Brotherhood a terror group, according to a smart column in Huffington Post by Daniel Wagner & Giorgio Cafiero.
“The constituent members of the new coalition...are themselves deeply divided on a number of key policy areas,” one Gulf affairs specialist told The Wall Street Journal. “The probability that it can become an effective international security alliance is therefore almost zero.”
“The constituent members of the new coalition...are themselves deeply divided on a number of key policy areas,” one Gulf affairs specialist told The Wall Street Journal. “The probability that it can become an effective international security alliance is therefore almost zero.”
pakistan prime minister nawaz sharif
Other countries that Saudi Arabia claimed were part of the coalition--including Pakistan, Lebanon and Malaysia--said they hadn’t been consulted about joining. Pakistan said it only learned of its supposed involvement from the media.
shia sunni map
Perhaps most disturbingly, though, the 34-country coalition mostly falls on the Sunni side of the Sunni-Shia divide: the coalition only includes one country with significant Shia influence--Lebanon--and even that’s problematic: Lebanon said the coalition “tamper[ed] with [its] status” in the fight against Daesh. (image: NYTimes)
iran fighting isis in iraq
The coalition also leaves out Iran, which is leading the campaign to eradicate Daesh in Iraq.
saudi military parade
Analysts have said Saudi Arabia’s announcement is likely more an attempt to increase its own status in the region than it is a sincere effort to combat extremism. “This event is...a Saudi effort...to be the leader of the Islamic world,” one expert told CNN.
saudi arabia mohammad bin salman
Bin Salman was vague about what the coalition will actually do to combat extremism, saying only that it would “coordinate and support military operations” across the Muslim world. A recent New York Times editorial ominously commented: “Just what that means is unclear, but it could be a license to find enemies everywhere.”