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Bahrain to play key role in fight against ISIS

MANAMA, September 15, 2014

Bahrain could play a vital role in combating a terrorist organisation threatening the region if it joins an international military coalition, according to security experts.

Around 40 countries, including 10 Arab states, will gather in Paris today to discuss an action plan by the anti-ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) coalition to stamp out the extremist group, which has killed thousands of people in Iraq and Syria, released videos of mass executions and beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

The talks come ahead of a UN Security Council ministerial meeting on Friday and a heads of state meeting at the UN General Assembly later this month.

Shura Council foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Dr Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said if Manama decides to join the coalition then it could provide military communication and become a base for naval operations.

“We are not part of the coalition yet but if we do become part of it then there is a lot that Bahrain can do,” he told the GDN.

“Bahrain's foreign policy coincides with the global war on terrorism.

“Bahrain is really important because it will provide a lot of help in regards to a strategic and military point of view - because the US base in Juffair is likely to play a large role - we cannot forget that US fighters fighting against Saddam Hussain in the 90s flew from Bahrain.

“We are strategically located and can provide communication help.

“As the war against ISIS is on Arab ground it is imperative that Arabs join in the coalition.

“Bahrain joining the fight will show the world that this is not a sectarian war and more of just fight against evil, not a fight between Muslims and Muslims or Muslims and Christians.

“It needs to be made clear that they (ISIS) do not represent Islam and that they are just terrorists using Islam for their own needs.

“So Bahrain joining the fight will also prevent them from claiming that the war is an Arab Islamic war.”

However, he said Bahrain would only play a supportive role and it would be unlikely for it to send troops.

Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis research and development director Dr Theodore Karasik said Arab states joining the coalition would devalue ISIS' message that its caliphate represents all Muslims.

“I think that Bahrain signing the GCC plus four agreement on September 11 shows that Bahrain is part of the group that is being set up to stamp out ISIS,” he told the GDN.

“The country joining the coalition would provide a view point that would mitigate the situation as they would be countering the narrative of the ISIS and would be able to explain why ISIS is an abomination.

“It is important not only for Arabic countries to join in, but also for Sunni clerics to work with their governments to counter the rhetoric of the Islamic State.”

He also claimed that Bahrain was home to 'some senior members' of the ISIS, so by joining the coalition the organisation would be 'neutered locally'.

“Bahrain is already kind of involved because of the Fifth Fleet who are already involved in the US air strikes in Iraq,” he added.

“I don't believe that troops will be sent from any of the GCC countries, but from the Middle East there is a possibility that they would come from Egypt and maybe Jordan, but it is unlikely that either will be.”

The specific role of many countries in the coalition remains unclear, while a few have publicly committed to military action or other steps, particularly in Syria where a three-year civil war still rages.

The ISIS stirred new outrage on Saturday with a video purporting to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called it 'a despicable and appalling murder' and vowed to bring the killers to justice. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | military | coalition | Terrorist | ISIS |

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