Islamic Military Alliance: A Big Question Mark

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The new counterterrorism coalition includes nations with large and established armies such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well as war-torn countries with embattled militaries such as Libya and Yemen. After initial ambiguity Pakistan has welcomed the initiative, and the government of Pakistan has confirmed its participation in the Saudi-led military alliance for ‘fighting terrorism’. African nations that have suffered militant attacks such as Mali, Chad, Somalia and Nigeria are also members. Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran and its allies, Syria and Iraq, are excluded from the alliance, despite the states sharing a common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

The coalition will fight the ISIS militant group as well as “any terrorist organization that appears in front of us,” according to Saudi deputy crown prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman. The alliance would operate on UN and OIC provisions on terrorism. A number of countries are suffering from terrorism, including Syria, Iraq, Sinai, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan etc, and this requires very strong efforts to counter. Undoubtedly through this alliance, there will be coordination to fight with it. Islam forbids corruption and destruction in the world and terrorism constitutes “a serious violation of human dignity and rights, especially the right to life and the right to security.”Currently, every Muslim country is fighting terrorism individually.

So such co-coordinating efforts sound very important. But there is the question of the exact definition of terrorism for every country. How to fight and who to protect. Apparently this coalition will attack ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. The new alliance excludes Iran, Iraq, and Syria, making it suspicious like an anti-Iranian or anti-Shia alliance rather than just an alliance against terror. In other words this could be seen as “a sectarian coalition.”It would be justified in questioning the nature of the alliance and its ability to be effective militarily when the interests and enemies are different for most of the countries.

Israel is a terrorist for the Palestine but not necessarily for other countries. Can this alliance take action against Zionists’ terrorism? Similarly, India is a terrorist for the Kashmiris and Pakistanis but not for Afghanistan. On one side if this new Islamic military coalition can develop mechanisms for working with other countries and international bodies to support counterterrorism efforts, on the other part Pakistan’s involvement might affect its relations with Iran & further entrench the Shia-Sunni schism.

The Pakistan Army has already launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a joint military offensive being conducted by the Pakistan Armed Forces against various militant groups, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, al-Qaeda, Jundallah and the Haqqani network. People of Pakistan have paid a heavy price of blood in this war against terrorism. History, only some decades ago, forces Pakistanis to think more to be member of this alliance for it was KSA and USA who dragged Pakistan in Afghanistan war with its drastic results later on. Now Afghanistan, for which Pakistan has suffered a lot, seeks close ties with India. Funding for Jihadi activities cannot be ignored. In this scenario, need is to address the countries that sponsor terrorism.

Pakistan could be the most important member of this alliance, due to its military power and experience and the fact that it is the only Muslim-majority nation with nuclear weapons. Now the question is how Pakistan would use his nuclear power. Would Pakistan’s nuclear asset be tagged as Muslim Atomic Bomb?

While countries are at distance on map, what would be the measures to gather the forces on one platform? The Saudis say this new coalition will “share information and train, equip and provide forces if necessary” in the fight against terror groups. But comprehensive operational details with its implications as how the new alliance will proceed are very important clarifying the needs and the objectives to all its members.

BY Mrs Aisha Noor

Disclaimer: Views expressed are not of the London Post

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