RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, said on Sunday that an attack on an Egyptian mosque that killed more than 300 worshipers would galvanize an Islamic military coalition that sought to counter terrorism and terrorism. extremism".
The main defense officials of 40 majority-Muslim nations gathered in Riyadh on Sunday. They are part of an alliance gathered two years ago by Prince Mohammed, who is also Saudi Defense Minister.
The crown prince has said he would encourage a more moderate and tolerant version of Islam in the ultraconservative realm.
Prince Mohamed told delegates that Friday's attack on Egypt "was a very painful event and should make us contemplate internationally and strongly the role of this terrorism and extremism."
Gunmen with the Islamic State flag attacked the mosque in northern Sinai.
The group of Muslim nations, called the Military Coalition against Islamic Terrorism, has not yet taken any decisive action.
Officials say the group would allow members to request or offer mutual help to fight the militants. This could include military aid, financial aid, equipment or safety experience. The group, which will have a permanent base in Riyadh, would also help fight the financing and ideology of terrorism.
"The greatest threat of terrorism and extremism is not only to kill innocent people and spread hatred, but to tarnish the reputation of our religion and distort our belief," Prince Mohammed told officials from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Iraq and Syria, at the head of the battle against the Islamic State, are not members, nor is it primarily a Shiite Muslim from Iran, the regional rival of mostly Sunni Saudi Arabia.
Qatar, which was originally part of the alliance, was not invited to Sunday's meeting after Riyadh led a group of states seeking to isolate Doha, saying it supported terrorism. Doha denies this.
Abdulelah al-Saleh, a Saudi general lieutenant and general secretary of the coalition, said that Qatar was excluded to help build a consensus for the launching of operations. He also said the group did not aim to create a Sunni bloc to counter Iran.
enemy is terrorism. They are not sects, religions or races, it is terrorism, "Saleh told reporters.
Saleh said that military initiatives had been proposed to the group's ministerial council, but did not elaborate.
Despite the agreement on principles, the members expressed different priorities at the meeting, the Yemen delegation said that the focus should be Iran, al Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Turkey called for the "support of our friends" against the Kurdish separatists.
Critics say the coalition could become a means for Saudi Arabia to implement an even more badertive foreign policy by winning the support of the poorest nations of Africa and Asia with offers of financial and military aid.
In addition to leading an accusation diplomatic against Qatar, Saudi Arabia also leads a war against the Houthi rebels aligned with Iran in its neighbor Yemen,
Saleh said that Riad would pay 400 million rials ($ 107 million) of the new center coalition, but said that other nations could offer financial support for specific initiatives.
Additional reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Edited by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Edmund Blair