On Friday, thousands of Jordanians, including Queen Rania, marched in demonstrations in the streets of Amman. They called for the death of ISIS and revenge for their pilot’s brutal killing. The same day ISIS claimed the coalition bombings had claimed the life of their U.S. prisoner, Kayla Mueller. They did not however provide strong photo or video evidence as proof. In fact, they provided only a photo of a demolished building said to have been holding Mueller.
Dismissed as war propaganda, the coalition was not deterred by the report of Mueller’s death. Nor should they have been. Even if she did die in the bombings, it signals that the bombs did, in fact, target ISIS strongholds. Therefore, it was no surprise that on Saturday, Jordanian F-16 fighter jets delivered a fresh wave of bombings. They were joined by two F-22s with U.S. markings. The UAE however, had reportedly pulled out of the coalition airstrikes.
Now, on direct orders of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a full squadron of F16s will be sent to aid in the fight. The move ,UAE leaders say, is to reaffirm their ties with Jordan, and their support in bringing down ISIS. They have high respect for the Jordanians, and their leading role in the endeavor.
It is clear that the UAE’s support comes from a strong belief for Arabs as a whole to stand against the brutality of terrorism. They understand that actions speak louder than words, and putting their aircraft in Jordan only affirms this discernment. They seek to bring stability and security to the region. This line of thinking is welcome in a region fraught with instability and insecurity. Jordan, along with the U.S. and her allies, will undoubtedly receive the UAE support with open arms.
In addition to the airstrikes, which are just one part of the attacks hoping to ultimately destroy ISIS, support is gathering to send ground troops into the area. Jordan itself has not confirmed it will send ground troops. However, when asked about Jordan sending ground troops into Iraq and Syria, U.S. Senator, Lindsey Graham stated, “Yes. Saudi Arabia is on board, everybody’s on board.” It seems though, that they aren’t moving in on the ground without U.S. troops leading. At least not any time soon.
Graham believes U.S. troops could provide invaluable assistance. White House officials however, would prefer to see Iraqis and Syrians leading the charge. This is no surprise since the U.S. has been seeking to curb its involvement in Iraq since the end of Saddam’s reign. Going back would be an unpopular political move. ISIS should be stopped, but the White house position would be for their own people to remove them.
The fight against ISIS is far from over. Many more airstrikes and eventually ground troops will need to be employed. Jordan receiving a UAE squad of F-16s to support their own is but a tiny fraction of the assistance needed to bring down the greatest terrorist threat of our day.
By Varon Laub
Photo Courtesy of Peter Mulligan – Flickr License