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COUNTERING ISLAMIC STATE THREAT

Kerry and his Arab counterparts wait for the meeting to begin
in Jeddah

Arab nations back US to expand anti-jihad operations

JEDDAH, September 12, 2014

Arab nations have rallied behind US President Barack Obama's call to expand operations against jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

Bahrain and nine other Arab countries agreed, in a joint communique, to do more to stop the flow of funds and fighters to Islamic State (IS) and help rebuild communities 'brutalised' by the militants, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa reiterated Bahrain's commitment to join international efforts to combat terrorism and 'dry up the sources feeding this scourge' which endangers regional security and stability.

The minister affirmed the stance as he attended a regional meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and his regional counterparts, in Jeddah.

Kerry won backing from the GCC states, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon for a coalition to fight the Sunni militants who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.

It's a major step in building regional support for Obama's plan to strike both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier.

However, Nato member Turkey refused to join the coalition; Iran and Syria were excluded.

“The participating states agreed to do their share in the comprehensive fight against ISIL, including ... as appropriate, joining in the many aspects of a co-ordinated military campaign against ISIL,” the Arab countries said in the communique, using the acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, a former name for IS.

Kerry said the Arab states would play a critical role in the coalition, although he added that no country in the alliance was talking about sending ground troops.

US officials said Kerry also sought permission to make more use of bases in the region and fly more warplanes overhead, issues that were not mentioned in the communique.

In a hopeful sign of outreach across the sectarian divide that has spread war across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia said it might open an embassy in Iraq.

The Saudis also promised to help Obama's campaign by providing training camps for moderate Syrian Sunni fighters.

Obama on Wednesday announced his plans to build an alliance to root out IS in both Syria and Iraq.

The region has been galvanised since June when IS militants, already in control of much of Syria, swept through northern Iraq, seizing cities, slaughtering prisoners, and proclaiming a 'caliphate' that would rule over all Muslims.

The White House says the group is a threat to the West as well, attracting fighters from around the world who could return to carry out attacks at home.

A State Department official travelling with Kerry said the top US diplomat would ask the allies to make room for US military activity. 'We may need enhanced basing and overflights ... there's going to be a meeting soon of defence ministers to work on these details.'

Kerry would also urge regional television news outlets, particularly Qatari-owned Al Jazeera and Saudi-owned Al Arabiya, to air anti-extremist messages. Governments in the region would be urged to press mosques to preach against IS.

Washington also wants more efforts to stop the flow of money to the group by tackling oil smuggling and cracking down on contributions from private donors, the official said. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: US | Iraq | Syria | arab | operations | expand | against | Jihad |

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