Arab Support for US Action Against IS

Arab Support for US Action Against ISArab Support for US Action Against IS

The United States signed up Arab allies on Thursday to what it called “coordinated military campaign” against Islamic State (IS) fighters, a major step in building regional support for President Barack Obama’s plan to strike both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier.

After talks in Saudi Arabia’s summer capital Jeddah, Secretary of State John Kerry won backing from 10 Arab countries - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Persian Gulf states including rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar - for a coalition to fight the Sunni militants that have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The Arab states agreed in a communiqué to do more to stop the flow of funds and fighters to Islamic State and help rebuild communities “brutalized” by the group, Reuters reported.

Kerry met the Arab leaders to drum up support a day after Obama announced his plans to strike fighters in Iraq and Syria.

US officials said Kerry also sought permission to make more use of bases in the region and fly more warplanes overhead, issues that were not mentioned in the communiqué. Kerry said none of the countries in the coalition would send ground troops.

The Saudis, who openly support other militant groups in Syria but consider Islamic State a terrorist group, have also promised to help Obama’s campaign by providing training camps for what they call “moderate” Syrian insurgents.

Obama announced his plans in a prime time address on Wednesday to build an alliance to root out Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, plunging the United States into two conflicts in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.

The region has been galvanized since June when Islamic State fighters, already in control of much of Syria, swept through northern Iraq, seizing cities, slaughtering prisoners, and proclaiming a “caliphate”.

Washington wants more efforts to stop the flow of money to the group by tackling oil smuggling and cracking down on contributions from private donors, the official said.

The prospect of US armed action in Syria drew concern from Russia. In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry said air strikes in Syria would require a UN Security Council mandate or be considered an act of aggression.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the kingdom might reopen its embassy in Baghdad, closed since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. His Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Jaafari said the reopening of the embassy “would reflect well on relations”.