Saudi Arabia excludes Iran, Qatar from first Muslim anti-terrorism summit

The first meeting of the Islamic Military Alliance was held yesterday in Saudi Arabia. Top officials from about 40 Muslim countries attended the summit. There were no representatives from Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran, and Qatar at the meeting.
Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Photo Credit: EPA-EFE

Top officials from some 40 Muslim nations gathered in Riyadh on Sunday for the first ever Islamic counter-terrorism summit. The summit was the first meeting of the Islamic Military Alliance (IMA).

In his opening remarks, Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman said that terrorism is ruining the reputation of Islam, according to the Jeddah-based Arab News agency. Bin Salman also offered his condolences to the Egyptian people following Friday’s deadly terror attack in northern Sinai.

The IMA was announced in 2015 by bin Salman. Forty-one countries, including Kuwait, Egypt, Afghanistan, Jordan and Lebanon, are members of the alliance. Iran, Saudi Arabi’s regional rival, is not part of the alliance and thus did not send an official to Riyadh for the summit. In addition, no officials from Qatar, which has been accused by several Arab states of supporting terrorism, were at the meeting.  

Over the past few weeks, the tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have increased. During an interview with the New York Times last week, bin Salman said that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “is the new Hitler of the Middle East.”

In response, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said that “nobody in the world and in the international arena trusts the prince due to his behavior and remarks.” The spokesman added that bin Salman has “decided to follow the path of famous dictators from the region and he should think well about their fate.”

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