In what’s believed to be its first military mission in three years, Qatar’s Emiri Air Force took to the skies above Syria this week alongside military planes from the US and four Arab nations as part of an aerial campaign against ISIL.
While Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE all announced that they had participated in the air strikes, Qatar has made no official mention of its involvement. The US Department of Defense said Qatar played “a supporting role.”
Media reports said Qatar was the only participating Arab country that did not partake in the actual bombing effort. Instead, four Qatari planes provided surveillance as the other Arab nations bombed ISIL targets, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani did not discuss the aerial campaign directly.
But he did call on the Security Council to protect the Syrian people from “the terrorist forces that took advantage of the misery and bitterness and the absence of the state and the international community.”
While urging intensified efforts to fight terrorism, the Emir added that military action alone is unlikely to be a solution: “It has been proven beyond doubt, that terrorism can only be defeated in its social environment.”
Relations between Qatar and the other Gulf states that joined this week’s mission have been at historic lows this year due to a dispute over Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
But according to some Middle East analysts, Western diplomats have urged GCC states to resolve their differences and collectively confront the dangers posed by armed groups in the region.
“There has been a lot of pressure by the US on the Gulf nations to come together and address the threat posed by ISIL,” David Roberts, a lecturer at King’s College London, told Doha News.
Given the seriousness of the situation, Roberts said it would have been difficult for Qatar to avoid playing a role in this week’s assaults. Furthermore, he added, the joint action is a way for the Gulf states to demonstrate their combined strength.
“From Qatar’s perspective, the collective actions enable the argument that things are getting better and that the Gulf can act cohesively,” Roberts said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted the Gulf’s show of unity in an interview with CNN yesterday:
“Historically, to many people’s amazement, they all came together … They are committed to this because (ISIL is) a threat to every nation, and they see that.”
While the Gulf states have come together to participate in the air strikes, Roberts notes that the list of targets that can be attacked from the air will quickly thin out.
That raises questions around the durability of the newly formed military coalition, and whether a regional political solution can be reached to resolve the threats posed by ISIL.
The US government said this week’s air strikes focused on ISIL and the Khorasan Group, an organization affiliated with al Qaeda.
The initial attack came in three waves, starting with more than 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from US warships in the Gulf and the Red Sea at Khorasan Group compounds, manufacturing workshops and training camps in northern and eastern Syria.
That was followed by US and Arab planes bombing ISIL headquarters, training camps barracks and combat vehicles. The Arab states played their largest role in the third wave, which targeted ISIL training camps and combat vehicles in east Syria.
Qatar’s fighter jet fleet effectively consists of 12 French-made Mirage 2000 planes, which Roberts said date back to the late ’90s and have been modified several times in the intervening years.
The country is currently looking to buy 72 new combat aircraft.
Enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in 2011 is believed to have been the Qatar air force’s last combat mission. Qatar sent six Mirage jets and was reportedly the first Arab nation to participate in the NATO mission.
Writing in Foreign Affairs in 2011, Roberts argued that Qatar likely intervened to be “at the forefront of popular Arab opinion and (defend) fellow Arabs against an onslaught,” as well as gain influence among Libyan rebels and their Western allies following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
I was wondering when DN was going to cover this story. Involvement in this mission from the Gulf states was a must from the US perspective, will be interesting to see how this all pans out.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones” – Albert Einstein
What a fascinating quote; somehow I have not heard that one before. Fascinating, yet terrifying. Very powerful.
Lets all remember that the gulf states participation is just an important symbolic gesture, without the US they could not conduct such a campain. Aircraft committed, Saudi 2, Bharain 2, UAE 2, Qatar 2 support aircraft. Hardly enough to scare me and my mother let alone the Islamic State.
I am impressed with the symbolism of the GCC bombing.
2 of the bomber pilots were:
Saudi Prince Khaled bin Salman – the son of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz,
Major Mariam Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first female fighter pilot.
Well done Major.
Well these absolute monachies haven’t survived for so long without knowing what to do to protect their positions…..
Good on them though, lets hope they can step up their support and send more planes. They should also put the boots on the ground and help out the Kurds that are doing the brunt of the fighting.
That is extremely impressive, and definitely symbolic. Best wishes to these two, as well as all others involved in this campaign. As a female (although not a feminist) I am so very proud of Major Mariam Al Mansouri. You go girl!! I’m proud of them and all others taking part!
If the Islamic State doesn’t target the Gulf next, it’d be surprising. I’m not sure what the Gulf can do; ignore them and they’ll come; bomb them and they’ll come; but no matter what, they are coming.
the Islamic State IS the Gulf. They all came from the Gulf. They are all funded by the Gulf. If not by the top of the tree, probably by wealthy individuals. Qatar is playing a very risky game now. The next US presidential elections is a big variable to how long Qatar can sustain playing on more than one side at a time.
There are plenty of IS leaders and foot soldiers from both Iraq and Syria as well. Ideologically, however, you’re spot on – they’re just following what Saudi Arabia’s rotten school system taught for decades.
The only difference is that Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and all these countries are so used to wars that it is part of their daily life and a way of survival. Their social structure in their countries is so strong and can withstand decades of wars. The gulf countries (Especially Qatar) is extremely fragile that if ONE bomb drops in their half KM radius city, you can rest sure that the country’s pace-maker expats will flock back home, leaving the country to its 300,000 unskilled nationals and underpaid slaves. This is a MAJOR difference that Qatar and UAE, but mostly Qatar are not thinking about. The country is so fragile, that the risk is huge.
So far, they are able to leverage that risk by paying top dollar to the US. However, history does not lie. The US is your friend as long as the friendship comes with benefit. I have not seen one single attempt made by Qatar to allow its citizens to work in a way that would sustain their country minimal needs in a case of an emergency. They can’t even wipe their own bum if the Indian or Philippine maid does not give them hand.
James, I think what you are saying is incredibly interesting, and most of it I understand and agree with 100%. Would you please enlighten me on your statement about the next US presidential election being a variable on how long Qatar can continue to play both sides? I didn’t fully understand that, but want to, as an American who will be voting in the next election. I appreciate your practical/realistic comments, and just want to pick-your-brain a bit more.
Sure, I can surely think louder 🙂
As you might know, there is a current war in the US congress (behind sound proof doors) as to WHO is Qatar and WHAT is Qatar. Even the Emir of Qatar publicly confirms on the fact that Qatar’s interpretation of Terrorism contradicts to some degree with that of America. Many congress members are and have been suggesting to move the US base from Qatar to UAE or somewhere else more neutral.
Now if that happens, not even ZILLIONS of dollars can grant the tiny state any peace of mind, especially when its 300,000 brave men fully assume that they are untouchables. The region itself is like a volcano that is about to erupt at any second and those who are used to being spoon fed and bum-wiped are the first to break and not survive when “things” hit the fan. You are talking about a country that without its expats, will completely shut down. How can this country bypass that huge risk that depends on who is the president in another country while putting all their efforts and weight on a world cup ?? It is mind shocking and it makes the sane person think deep and wonder about how naive people can be.
The only logical mitigation to any of these risks will be Qataris exploiting their passports and flocking all together to UK or other countries they invested in, while evacuating their home country while their slaves are trapped (again) …. what a plan B 🙂
Qatar has a field of security to keep things safe. As a Qatari, I’m not as cowardly and weak to flee my country though I will have a hard time trying to operate abandoned water filtration and electricity industry if they aren’t bombed. About the so called slaves you say trapped will try to flee to saudi arabia or something, At the hardest of times, we still remember how we survived without these conveniences. Crime of robbing shops for food might rise but then when you need to survive you don’t care. I don’t know what the Emir will plan but we might join our gulf brothers and we qataris all serve. There is one small thing you must know, we aren’t the targets, the expats are so if the US has an interest in protecting it’s people, it will do something.
Careful who you’re dealing with. 🙂 You’ve been fooled by a foreign Intelligence agency’s PR 🙂 He copied my nickname now and he’s writing some weird comments. Look at what he is comparing Qatar to and read the article posted recently you’ll know what I mean.
Don’t be fooled by an enemy state intelligence agency’s PR.
Are you sure he’s a spy? If so, that’s awesome. I’ve always wanted to banter with someone like that.
Regardless, those comments are pretty harsh.
Qatar supports Syria aerial bombing, but urges non-military solution – ??? Irony! lol
How can you support aerial bombing, yet urge non-military solution? haha ONLY in Qatar!
Aberdeen .. you wouldn’t be Scottish now would you? Cause that’ll be rich coming from a Scotsmen..
Since when political knowledge is restricted to where you come from? Oh, excuse me, I forgot that you were Qatari. I do find it fascinating that you were able to pull a grammatically correct English sentence though,
اقرا الكومنت ماله فوق و بتعرف من اي دولة مقلد نك نيمي و قاعد يكتب كومنتس بأسمي شوف عدد الكومنتس الي عندي و عنده و بتعرف الفرق