Tags: Al-Qaida | Exclusive Interviews | ISIS/Islamic State | Arab coalition | Syria | ISIS | airstrikes

Walid Phares: Formation of Arab Bloc, Sign Countries Feel ISIS Threat

By    |   Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 01:52 PM

The Arab coalition that is working with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) is a sign that these nations believe that the threat of the terrorist group is imminent, says Middle East expert Walid Phares.

"The formation of this new Arab bloc, which I coined as a Quasi-Arab NATO — the heart of that bloc was Saudi Arabia, [United Arab Emirates], and Jordan," Phares told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV Tuesday.

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"One additional member was not really with the team, but is coordinating with us, that's Qatar," he explained. "One member that should've been there, but is not here is Egypt."

"The formation of that bloc is an indication that these countries now feel that this threat is very near," he said.

"They took a risk because by doing so they're going to attract a lot of reactions by Jihadists, by ISIS and others," he added.

Airstrikes against ISIS in Syria began Monday night, which were part of a combined effort of the United States, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE.

In a statement President Barack Obama gave Tuesday morning, he said that "America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations" and that "this is not America's fight alone."

Phares said that he's still "concerned . . . about who is going to be fighting on the ground."

"There are two forces on the ground ready to move if ISIS is weak," he explained. "One, is the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, and two, is the unorganized Syrian oppositions, [the Free Syrian Army]."

"The next few hours are going to be very important to determine who's going to be moving on the ground, if any," he added.

The Pentagon said that the airstrikes were prompted by an apparent "imminent" attack expected to take place on U.S. soil by the Khorasan Group in Syria.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday that the administration believes that the "individuals plotting and planning it were eliminated" in the course of Monday's airstrikes.

Phares told Newsmax that "the group, Khorasan, is a basically number of Jihadists who started with al-Qaida, who then specialize in targeting the U.S. homeland and other western allies."

"They're not very interested in being on the ground in the Middle East," he explained.

"They have been in touch with the Jihadists who are living in the west and they're trying to mobilize lone wolves or cells within the west," he said.

"The Pentagon targeted them as they were targeting ISIS," the Middle East expert said.

"That's a good thing because their bases, according to information, are or were in Syria," Phares explained.

"It was good to target ISIS, the Khorasan group and one branch of al-Qaida all in one package," he added.

Politically speaking, pollster Matt Towery of InsiderAdvantageGeorgia, told Newsmax TV that these events may change public opinion of the president, who "was not receiving very good marks from Americans when asked how he was handling foreign policy and how he was handling the ISIS crisis."

However, he explained, it may take some time to find out "because usually it takes three to four days for public opinion to catch up with news events."

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The Arab coalition that is working with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) is a sign that these nations believe that the threat of the terrorist group is imminent, says Middle East expert Walid Phares.
Arab coalition, Syria, ISIS, airstrikes
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2014-52-23
Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 01:52 PM
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