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Saudi Arabia Announces New Islamic Military Alliance

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In this March 30, 2015, photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Royal Saudi Land Forces and units of Special Forces of the Pakistani army take part in a joint military exercise in Baha region, southwest Saudi Arabia.
In this March 30, 2015, photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Royal Saudi Land Forces and units of Special Forces of the Pakistani army take part in a joint military exercise in Baha region, southwest Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has announced the creation of an Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism.

The Saudis will lead the 34-nation alliance, said the state-run Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday. The center will be located in the capital Riyadh and will coordinate military operations.

The countries that have joined the alliance include Jordan, Bahrain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The four are also part of the U.S.-led coalition that has been launching airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State terrorist group.

Other alliance members are Tunisia, Lebanon, Libya and Egypt. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia are also part of the alliance. Some African countries -- including Sudan, Somalia, Mali and Nigeria -- also have joined.

Iraq, Iran and Syria are not in the new group, nor is Saudi Arabia's neighbor Oman.

The Saudi statement called terrorism a "serious violation of human dignity and rights, especially the right to life and the right to security." It said "acts of corruption and terrorism cannot be justified in any way."

It said the alliance supports the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which "calls for member states to cooperate to combat terrorism in all its forms ... and rejects all justifications and excuses for terrorism." Members of the alliance are also part of the Islamic cooperation group.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman called terrorism a "disease." He said the alliance will fight it wherever it is in the world.

"Today there are a number of countries that suffer from terrorism," he said, "for example Daesh (Islamic State) in Syria and Iraq; terrorism in Sinai, terrorism in Yemen, terrorism in Libya, terrorism in Mali, terrorism in Nigeria, terrorism in Pakistan, terrorism in Afghanistan -- and this requires a very strong effort to fight."

He said "the alliance includes a group of Islamic states that make up the majority of the Islamic world." And he noted that terrorism "affected the Islamic world first, before the international community" was attacked.

The alliance was created because "today, every Islamic country is fighting terrorism individually," he said. It is important that countries work together to fight "terrorism all over the Islamic world."

Turkey is the only country in the new group that is also a member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. News reports say Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the alliance the "best response to those who are trying to associate terror and Islam. We believe that this effort by Muslim countries is a step in the right direction."

Other countries that make up the 34-member group are: Benin, Chad, Togo, Djibouti, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Guinea, Palestine, Comoros, Qatar, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia said more than 10 other countries have expressed support but have not joined the alliance. They include Indonesia -- home of the world's largest Muslim population.

I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.

This story was reported by VOANews.com. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it into VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

coordinate - v. to make arrangements so that two or more people or groups of people can work together properly and well

dignity - n. the quality of being worthy of honor or respect

justify - v. to provide or be a good reason for (something); to prove or show (something) to be just, right or reasonable

associate - v. to think of one person or thing when you think of another person or thing (usually + with)

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