It was announced in December, 2015 that Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and 33 other mostly Muslim nations has organized a military coalition to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, much skepticism comes with this new alliance. Some experts are seeing this coalition as just another PR campaign by the House of Saud to deflect attention from the fact that they finance terrorism.
When news of the coalition broke, two key countries mentioned spoke out saying they were unaware that they were even involved. Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Aizaz Chaudhry, has been quoted as saying he only learned of his country’s inclusion in the alliance from news reports and even phoned the country’s ambassador in Saudi capital Riyadh for clarification. Senior officials claimed they were not consulted beforehand. Lebanon was also equally surprised following the announcement.
Saudi Arabia is bordered by the UAE on the west, Oman and Yeman in the south,
Iraq and Jordan to the north.
The idea of fighting ISIS and confronting the ideology of extremism is said to be a goal by Saudi Arabia, but when we look at the actions of these 34 countries, there seems to be a lack of motivation in fighting terrorism. Around 80% of the coalition bombing has been done by the US along with some support from Europe, Canada and Australia. Only ten Middle Eastern countries have taken part in the attacks. The Arab allies fighting ISIS have refused to say how many airstrikes they have carried out against them. Pentagon statements show that half the Arab countries in the coalition have carried out in fact zero bombings. Our allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed only about once a month.
It seems as if this coalition is leaving many quite skeptical and wondering if there is any authenticity behind this alliance. Or is it perhaps more realistic to look at it as a superficial front between countries that are looking to appease their Western allies? The reality is that this coalition is unlikely to make much of a difference on the battlefield or in the politics of the anti-ISIS struggle.