London, 27 Nov – A delegation of the top defence ministers from across the Middle East and North Africa met in Riyadh on Sunday, to discuss terrorism and the threat it poses to the world in the wake of this weekend’s attack on the Egyptian mosque.
Notably absent from these proceedings was the Iranian Regime, widely known as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and the countries through which it exerts a great deal of control: Iraq, Qatar and Syria.
The Counter Terrorism Alliance, formed two years ago by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has not yet announced its course of action but officials say that member states would be collaborating on fighting extremism, whether that be offering each other funds, troops, expertise, or weapons.
Prince Mohammed, who is also Saudi Arabia’s defence minister, said that the terrorist attack which killed over 300 worshippers would only encourage the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition to fight harder against “terrorism and extremism” and its causes.
Of Friday’s attack, where gunmen carrying the ISIS flag attacked a mosque in North Sinai, Prince Mohammed said: “[It] was a very painful occurrence and must make us contemplate in an international and powerful way the role of this terrorism and extremism”.
The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition will target terrorist actions and beliefs.
Prince Mohammed, who is encouraging a modern and tolerant Islam, told the officials: “The biggest threat from terrorism and extremism is not only killing innocent people and spreading hate, but tarnishing the reputation of our religion and distorting our belief.”
The Iranian Regime is a big supporter of terrorist ideology and action across the Middle East, sponsoring dozens of terrorist groups (including Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis) either directly or through its proxy cells. There is also extensive evidence, from a recent dump of CIA documents that were seized from Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan compound in 2011, that show a strong relationship between Iran and the Al Qaeda. They even sheltered the 9/11 plotters in the aftermath of the attacks.
The Regime’s militant Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has also set up several terrorist training camps within Iran to train the next generation of terrorists.
Qatar, an original member of the alliance, was not invited to this meeting because of Saudi Arabia’s belief that it is a key sponsor of terrorism through its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its role as a key Iran ally.
Abdulelah al-Saleh, a Saudi lieutenant general and the coalition’s secretary general, denied the rumours that this was part of Saudi Arabia’s fight against Iran.
He said: “The enemy is terrorism. It’s not sects or religions or races, its terrorism.”
During the meeting, Yemen’s delegation insisted that the focus should be on Iran, al Qaeda and Islamic State, which is understandable when you realise that the legitimate government was evicted from the capital by Iran-backed Houthis. A fight that Saudi Arabia is already helping the Yemeni Government in.