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AVAILABLE EXPERT - Saudi Arabia to lead military alliance against terrorism

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Queen's University defence expert Christian Leuprecht is available to comment on today's announcement out of Saudi Arabia of the formation of a 34 member "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism. The new 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. African nations that have suffered militant attacks such as Mali, Chad, Somalia and Nigeria are also members.

"In the run-up to the next round of negotiations on Syria, slated for Dec. 18, Saudi Arabia had been tasked with building a coalition not just to bring Shia countries together, but to forge a common front, with the capability to support efforts on the ground and the possibility to deploy boots on the ground," says Dr. Leuprecht. "It would appear that this announcement is the public signal by Saudi Arabia that it is trying to live up to its end of the deal of bringing countries together."  

Dr. Leuprecht adds that the key question regarding the coalition will be its capability to act to confront groups such as the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), and the joint coordination centre to be stood up in Riyadh suggests that. 

"Several of the countries in question have taken heat for being perceived as not doing enough, and not prioritorzing the fight against ISIS in the interest of advancing their pet strategic aspirations. The idea is to have this coalition contribute troops, if necessary, to go after ISIS, should that be an outcome of the next round of negotiations.  Whether what the Saudis have announced is enough, and whether they can deliver — or at least be seen as being able to deliver — is to be seen at the upcoming round of negotiations on Syria," says Dr. Leuprecht.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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