Following the disgusting images of a Jordanian pilot being burned (allegedly) burned alive by ISIS yesterday, the US coalition against the terrorists appears to be faltering. As The NY Times reports, The United Arab Emirates, a crucial Arab ally in the American-led coalition against the Islamic State, suspended airstrikes against the Sunni extremist group in December, citing fears for its pilots’ safety. The UAE made it clear its pilots will not return to the fight until the Pentagon improve its search-and-rescue efforts, shifting the base of support from Kuwait to Iraq, after foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, "let [Barabara Leaf] have it over this," the new American ambassador, why Central Command, in his country’s view, had not put proper assets in northern Iraq for rescuing downed pilots.
The United Arab Emirates, a crucial Arab ally in the American-led coalition against the Islamic State, suspended airstrikes against the Sunni extremist group in December, citing fears for its pilots’ safety after a Jordanian pilot was captured and who the extremists said had been burned to death, United States officials said Tuesday.
The United Arab Emirates are demanding that the Pentagon improve its search-and-rescue efforts, including the use of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, in northern Iraq, closer to the battleground, instead of basing the missions in Kuwait, administration officials said. The country’s pilots will not rejoin the fight until the Ospreys, which take off and land like helicopters but fly like planes, are put in place in northern Iraq.
The United Arab Emirates notified the United States Central Command that they were suspending flights, administration officials said, after First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh of the Jordanian Air Force was captured when his plane went down near Raqqa, Syria. A senior American military official said Islamic State militants “grabbed” Lieutenant Kasasbeh “within just a few minutes.” He added, “There was no time for us to engage.”
But United Arab Emirates officials questioned the American military about whether rescue teams would have been able to reach Lieutenant Kasasbeh even if there had been more time to do so, administration officials said.
In a blunt exchange last week in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, asked Barbara Leaf, the new American ambassador, why Central Command, in his country’s view, had not put proper assets in northern Iraq for rescuing downed pilots, a senior administration official said.
“He let her have it over this,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. It was Ms. Leaf’s first courtesy call on the foreign minister.
The exchange followed a month of disputes between American military officials and their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates, who have also expressed concern that the United States has allowed Iran to play a growing role in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
A spokesman with Central Command declined to comment.
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Fragile coalition indeed... or is terrorism winning?
"Luckily" - as UAE pulls out - Jordan has just committed greater military presence to its Syrian and Iraqi borders