Country Risk

Riyadh conference outlines role of new Saudi-led alliance

30 November 2017

Key Points

  • The IMCTC will facilitate capacity building and intelligence sharing.
  • It has a military commander, but no military force has been announced.

An inaugural meeting of ministers from the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) has gone some way towards clarifying the organisation’s envisaged activities.

Delegates to the IMCTC's first ministerial conference pose for a photograph. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)Delegates to the IMCTC's first ministerial conference pose for a photograph. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

First announced by Saudi Arabia in December 2015, the IMCTC now ostensibly includes 41 countries, but it is unclear how many were represented at the conference held in Riyadh on 26 November. Lebanon and Qatar, both listed as member states, were notably absent.

The final statement published by the IMCTC said the chairman of its Council of Ministers of Defence would appoint a secretary general and a military commander, as well as approve its annual budget, rules, and regulations.

While the IMCTC’s chairman has not been identified as yet, the coalition already has an acting secretary general in the form of Saudi Arabia’s Lieutenant General Abdullah al-Saleh. Raheel Sharif, a respected retired general from Pakistan, has been recruited as its military commander, but it is still unclear what force – if any – he will command.

During his speech to the conference, which was published by the Saudi Press Agency, Sharif said the IMCTC would “act as a platform to assist member countries in their counter-terrorism operations through intelligence sharing and capacity building”.

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