Tags: Saudi Arabia | ISIS | Syria

Obama Enlists Support of Saudis in ISIS Fight

Obama Enlists Support of Saudis in ISIS Fight
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) waits for the start of a Gulf Cooperation Council and Regional Partners meeting in Jeddah. (Pool/Reuters/Landov)

Thursday, 11 September 2014 01:14 PM


President Barack Obama has enlisted the support of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as part of his plan to form a coalition in the region to battle the Islamic State (ISIS), reports The New York Times.

The White House said that Obama spoke to Abdullah on the phone, and the Persian Gulf kingdom's chief has agreed to a request to supply a base for American troops to train moderate Syrian opposition fighters.

The two leaders “agreed on the need for increased training and equipping” of the Syrian rebels, who are fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad as well as confronting ISIS extremists, according to a senior administration official.

“We now have the commitment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be a full partner in this effort — the train-and-equip program — to host that program,” the official told the Times.

“We are in a position … to be pretty specific with the Saudis about what we’d like. We’re fairly confident they will be forward leaning on this.”

Saudi Arabia, which is mainly a Sunni Muslim country, believes that the Islamic State, which consists in the most part of fanatical Sunni zealots, poses a serious threat to the nation’s stability and economy, the Times said.

Due to its vast financial resources and powerful position among Middle East countries, the kingdom has agreed to play a major role in the collation that Obama is hoping to put together to destroy the terror group.

Secretary of State John Kerry followed up on Obama’s call to King Abdullah by jetting out to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, today for top-level talks with representatives of several countries in the region on how to counter jihadist ISIS fighters, who have captured vast areas of land in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

With the Saudis hosting the discussions, senior representatives from the Persian Gulf states, including Iraq, as well as Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Jordan are due to attend the meeting.

The talks are expected to center on cracking down on ISIS bankrolling itself through illegal oil smuggling and private donations from wealthy Muslims, a State Department official said. Kerry will also discuss plans for the actual site of the training base and details about delivering arms to the moderate rebels.

The State Department official also revealed that defense ministers in the region planned to hold discussions in the near future on arrangements to allow U.S. fighter jets to use local air space to launch airstrikes against ISIS, the Times said.

Last year, the Saudis were not thrilled when Obama refused to follow the advice of his top security officials and employ U.S. air power against Assad’s troops after his regime attacked rebels with chemical weapons.

But Obama's announcement on Wednesday night that he now planned to attack ISIS in Syria has encouraged the Saudi kingdom to take a lead role among Arab nations against the terrorists, the Times added.


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President Obama has enlisted the support of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as part of his plan to form a regional coalition to battle the Islamic State.
Saudi Arabia, ISIS, Syria
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2014-14-11
Thursday, 11 September 2014 01:14 PM
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