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Should Nigeria Refrain from Joining the Islamic Military Alliance?

boko-haram-image-AFP-650In the joint statement released by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the formation of the Islamic Military Alliance to fight terrorism, the Kingdom announced that 34 countries “have decided to form a military alliance to fight against terrorism led by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a joint operations centre shall be established in the city of Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism and to develop the necessary programmes and mechanisms for supporting these efforts.” The statement further stated that “more than ten other Islamic countries have expressed their support for the alliance and will take the necessary measures in this regard, including Indonesia.” Nigeria is not only listed as a member of the alliance but also as a country that has confirmed to support and play military roles in the alliance.

Before now, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had been greatly criticised for not being vocal in the war against terrorism in the Gulf Arab states, despite its supremacy in the Arab world. Therefore, to testify to its supreme sense of responsibility towards fighting terrorism, the Kingdom deemed it necessary and satisfactory to establish the alliance, with an undertone of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Although, to some member countries, the alliance echoes the sound of a new dawn for concerted efforts against terrorism, but evidence based on the composition of this coalition – in which all the members are countries with a majority of Sunni Muslims – has cast a shadow over the genuineness of the alliance to fight terrorism, particularly in the context where countries like Syria, Iran and Iraq – in which the majority of Muslims are Shiites – are not listed in the alliance. This brings home the question, which many analysts have echoed, of whether the alliance was set up as a force against Shiite Muslims, or as a coalition against terrorism? This question remains relevant in the discussions on sectarian conflicts within Islam across the world. Thus, it behoves common sense to question why Saudi Arabia excluded from the alliance two large majority Muslim countries – Iran and Iraq – whose indispensability in the war against Islamic extremism cannot be whisked off.

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