The United States counted with a number of Arab nations in their coordinated airstrikes in Syria overnight against the terrorist group the Islamic State. Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all participated in the attack, according to the Defense Department, potentially branding themselves “apostate” nations in the eyes of the terrorist group.
USA Today notes that the United States Department of Defense has been clear in publicizing the participation of these neighboring states in the attack, in large part to clarify that such an attack, which allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad view as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty, was not unilateral. “We wanted to make sure that ISIL knew they have no safe haven, and we certainly achieved that,” said chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey of the collaboration.
Jordan has confirmed its participation in the strike. In a statement published by state news agency Petra, the Jordanian government confirmed that it had helped attack “positions of terrorist groups that are used as platforms to launch operations against Jordanian territory.” The statement added: “The armed forces will not hesitate to give a decisive answer to these groups, as they will not tolerate harming border security and Jordanian citizens.”
Jordan’s was the most definitive statement on the matter aside from America’s. Other nations participating in the airstrikes have mostly remained silent. CNN notes that it is even unclear to what extent Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain were involved in the missions, or whether their fighter jets made an appearance in the attacks. Experts note that among the most surprising appearances in the coalition is Bahrain, whose tiny air force pales in comparison to those of its neighbors. Qatar, long believed to finance terrorism itself, is also a surprising appearance on the list.
Saudi Arabia, which has also agreed to host trainings for moderate Syrian rebels who wish to fight the Islamic State, appears to be taking most of the wrath of the terrorist group not directed at the United States. According to Reuters, one Islamic State fighter insisted that the terrorist group would retaliate: “These attacks will be answered. The sons of Saloul [Saudi Arabia] are the ones who are to be blamed. It happened because of them.”
As of now, it is believed that up to 70 Islamic State terrorists were killed in the airstrikes, which targeted the “capital” of the Islamic State, Raqqa, and several other hotbeds of terrorism. The extent to which the United States’ Arab allies will continue to collaborate remains to be seen, though more details are expected as President Obama prepares to deliver a speech updating the American people on the situation.