Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stepping Up to Fight

Secretary of Defense Carter complains that Arab Gulf states aren't stepping up to fight ISIL. Perhaps the lack of volunteers comes from the lack of a fight to step into.


U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter ... had blunt criticism of other American allies in the Middle East: the Arab Gulf states, who, he argued, sometimes appear unwilling to effectively engage their enemies. Carter suggested that these states—the members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and Egypt as well—would rather build show-horse air forces than commit to the dangerous work of countering ISIS and Iran, the main bogeymen of moderate Arab states.

That's funny. In Yemen, the Arab Gulf states have contributed a heavy combat brigade that they are keeping in the fight against Iran-backed rebels:

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will rotate the forces that it currently has deployed in Yemen, the country's official WAM news agency reported on 2 November. ...

The UAE has played a leading role in the Arab coalition that is attempting to reinstall Yemen's president and has had soldiers in the southern port city of Aden since at least July and had deployed to Marib province by early September.

Those troops have been seen operating Leclerc tanks and BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles and are supported by helicopters deployed to Aden International Airport and an airstrip in Marib province.

Perhaps the Arab Gulf states just don't think they need to bring their PowerPoint skills to the coalition in Iraq.

Perhaps we need to actually organize a war for our allies to get involved in before we complain about them not fighting.

UPDATE: Related:

As the United States prepares to intensify airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, the Arab allies who with great fanfare sent warplanes on the initial missions there a year ago have largely vanished from the campaign. ...

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have shifted most of their aircraft to their fight against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Jordan, reacting to the grisly execution of one of its pilots by the Islamic State, and in a show of solidarity with the Saudis, has also diverted combat flights to Yemen. Jets from Bahrain last struck targets in Syria in February, coalition officials said. Qatar is flying patrols over Syria, but its role has been modest.

So our Arab allies aren't failing to step up to fight. They're shifting to an actual war front where they think they'll make a difference and can actually fight.

UPDATE: Is it really time already at Ramadi?

Iraqi forces appear better positioned than ever to launch an offensive against Islamic State militants controlling Ramadi, now that months-long efforts to cut off supply lines to the city are having an effect, but plenty of risks remain.

The grass grew. The paint dried. The last PowerPoint presentation was presented.

Now all we need to do is liberate Ramadi.

If a mechanized Jordanian offensive force backed by coalition air, special forces, and other support rolls into western Anbar province, too, in support of anti-ISIL Sunni Arab tribes, I might cry from joy.