JAFFA, Israel – The Saudi-led Muslim anti-terror coalition, boasting more than 20 member states, is about to complete Exercise North Thunder, its biggest military maneuver so far.
The exercise was held in Hafr-el-Batin in northern Saudi Arabia and was intended to ensure Arab and Islamic countries’ readiness to confront regional threats, especially the Islamic State.
Brigadier Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Asiri, a spokesman for the coalition, stated that the drill “includes helicopters and fighter jets targeting areas where ground forces engage with terrorist elements, in addition to saving members of the joint forces trapped in hostile areas, and clearing all enemy areas.”
Some in the region view the maneuver as a prelude to a possible ground invasion of Syria as well as a show of Sunni Arab force against the Iranian regime.
Meanwhile, the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat reported that a panel of representatives of Gulf states is expected to convene over the coming days to discuss the implementation of its resolution to declare the Iran-backed Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
A senior source told the paper that the decision will apply not only to the Lebanese movement itself, but also to any other individual or organization that deals with it directly or indirectly.
Reacting to the resolution, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday accused the Sunnis of aligning with Israel.
“The Saudis are fighting a losing battle,” he said, accusing them of being driven solely by their wish to perpetuate their regimes. “Whoever aligns himself with the Zionists will go down with them.”