According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces have carried out a series of air strikes targeting schools that were still in use in Yemen, in violation of international humanitarian law, and hampering access to education for thousands of Yemen’s children, The coalition forces are armed by states including the USA and UK. Why Yemen is set to be a priority for Arabs instead of ISIS?
Map Source: Wikimedia
Green: Controlled by Revolutionary Committee
Red: Controlled by Hadi-led government and the Southern Movement
White Controlled by Ansar al-Sharia/AQAP forces
U.S. President Barack Obama is sending Special Forces. British jets have joined French warplanes over the skies of Syria. Even Germany, whose post-World War II constitution puts restrictions on fighting battles on foreign soil, is becoming increasingly involved.
- Failed-UN Security Council Resolution 2225 on children in armed conflict adopted earlier this year calls on all parties to conflict to “respect the civilian character of schools” and also expresses serious concern that the military use of schools may render them legitimate targets of attack under international law and would endanger the safety of children.
But as the West steps up its war against ISIS, it appears that the involvement of the U.S.-led coalition’s Arab members — all of them much closer geographically to the terror group than their Western partners — is drawing down.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are down to about one mission against ISIS targets each month, a U.S. official told CNN on Monday. Bahrain stopped in the autumn, the official says, and Jordan stopped in August. CNN contacted all of these countries for comment and is yet to receive a response.
On Tuesday, six Colombians and and an Australian commander also working for Blackwater were killed in the Al-Omari region in Taiz, HispanTV said.According to Yemen’s al-Masirah news website, a total of 15 Blackwater mercenaries have been killed since Tuesday.
Yemen — not ISIS — is the priority for most Arab countries
Analysts say Yemen is at the center of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the region’s biggest powers.
Religion and ethnicity are at the heart of the longstanding hostility between the two countries. Iran is majority Shia Muslim and non-Arab. Most of the other countries in the region — including, and led by, Saudi Arabia — are majority Sunni Arab, and are suspicious of Iran’s motives.
So when Iranian-backed rebels seized Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, last year, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states (including Egypt, Jordan and the UAE) was launched to try to defeat them.
Countries such as the UK, that are party to the Arms Trade Treaty, are prohibited from authorizing an arms transfer if they have knowledge that the arms would be used to commit attacks against civilians, civilian objects or other violations of international humanitarian law.
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) 11 Décembre 2015
They’re worried about what will happen at home
Yemen may have distracted many Arab states, but the threat of opposition — not to mention revenge terror attacks — at home has also made them fearful of greater involvement in the ISIS fight, according to analysts.
— Jasna (@BoomerangTime) 10 Décembre 2015
Britain dropped more bombs on South Yemen in 70s than during Guerra de las Malvinas (colonial name Falklands war). https://t.co/p5jrPAfU8v
— Crimes of Britain (@crimesofbrits) 11 Décembre 2015
According to analysts the Arab states, including Jordan — after the incident with the pilot [burned to death by ISIS when his plane crashed in Syria] — are laying low . ISIS doesn’t just exist in Syria and Iraq — it has major constituency supporters in almost all Arab countries, including Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan. So they want to really minimize the risks.
Also, remember that one of the largest contingencies within ISIS are the Saudis. They’re not just fighters, they play leadership roles — and ISIS has carried out major attacks in Saudi, both against Shiite mosques and against (other) Saudi targets.”
Arab states have long seen ISIS as Iran’s problem, not theirs
The prevailing logic amongst the Sunni Arab States, is that the governments under the most immediate threat from ISIS — those of Syria and Iraq — are both key Iranian allies, so why can’t the Iranians handle it?
That’s been the prevailing logic amongst the Sunni Arab states, according to regional experts. They say Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are also less inclined to carry out strikes against ISIS targets if doing so helps Iran’s allies in Damascus and Baghdad.
Putting Arab state “boots on the ground” is near impossible
The problem with deploying a large number of Arab troops is that no individual country is likely to risk it, and no nation has a mandate to act on behalf of everyone else.
Even if that wasn’t the case, the likelihood of Syria or Iraq endorsing foreign military intervention is extremely unlikely, according to Ghadi Sary, a Middle East expert at Chatham House.
“I think it’s going to be very hard for that to happen — you’ve seen the Iraqi reaction to the presence of the Turkish army in northern Iraq,” Sary says, referring to Iraq’s ordering of Turkish troops out of the country on Monday.
“It is important for any intervening army to have the backing of the central government, or at least the army in the country,” Sary says, “(including) the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who everyone will see as impossible to work with.”
Sary also says most Arab militaries are more comfortable working inside — not outside — their own borders.
“For most of these countries, the over-involvement by the army in the internal affairs of the state has become acceptable, but when it comes to foreign intervention, it becomes problematic,” he says.
“We’re seeing the Egyptian army focus on the Sinai and its internal problems, we’re seeing the Syrian army doing that, and in Yemen it’s almost seen as the Saudi army cleaning up their own backyard — but not really intervention on the international level.”
Sources: Twitter, CNN, Amnesty International
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