MS Risk Blog

Jordan, UAE, Syria and ISIS Update

Posted on in Iraq, ISIS, Jordan, Syria title_rule

10 February—Earlier today, Jordan deployed thousands of ground troops to its border with Iraq as the kingdom ramps up its campaign against ISIS militants. The troops will stay at the border to prevent infiltration of ISIS militants into Jordan. Jordanian forces have also redoubled their efforts in targeting ISIS strongholds since the release of a brutal video showing the burning death of Lieutenant Kasasbeh. The pilot was captured in December and had been held hostage for months as the Jordanian government attempted to negotiate his release.

It is believed that the gruesome burning death of Kasasbeh was filmed at least a month prior to its release. ISIS continued with negotiations in an attempt to retrieve two al Qaeda linked fighters that had been imprisoned in Jordan, while also doing “post-production” editing to their latest video, which is considerably more high quality and . Following the release of the video, the detained fighters were immediately transferred to a Jordanian prison that handles execution. They were executed the following day.

The video of Kasasbeh’s death sparked outrage in Jordan. King Abdullah has vowed a “strong, earth-shaking and decisive” response. On 8 February, Jordanian forces conducted 56 airstrikes on ISIS targets. Abdullah has also sought to send ground troops into Syria, however Syrian president Bashar al Assad will not allow foreign ground troops. Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said, “So far, there is no coordination between Syria and Jordan in the fight against terrorism […] as for press reports about ground troops entering Syria, we say clearly that… we will not permit anyone to violate our national sovereignty by intervening to fight IS.” He added that the Syrian Arab Army would undertake the task of eradicating ISIS.

The refusal to allow Jordanian forces into Syria does not come as a surprise. Syria’s government has accused the kingdom of supporting terrorism, because Jordan has been supportive of the uprising against Assad which began in 2011.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates announced on Saturday that they would resume their efforts in the coalition airstrikes against ISIS. The emirate’s official news agency says that in re-joining the airstrikes, they “reaffirms [its] unwavering and constant solidarity with Jordan.” The UAE has sent a squadron of F-16 jets to Jordan so that its pilots can fly sorties alongside those from Jordan. In addition to providing additional fighting power, by moving the squadrons to Jordan, they are able to shorten their flight distances and intensify air-strikes against ISIS. The UAE halted their efforts in December after Kasasbeh was shot down during a mission over Syria. It has been reported that the UAE dropped out of the coalition because there were no significant search and rescue assets in place for the recovery of downed planes or fighters.

The UAE says the renewed effort is an attempt to stop “the brutal terrorist organization that showed all of the world its ugliness … through abominable crimes that exposed its false allegations and drew outrage and disgust from the Arab peoples,” according to the news release by WAM, Emirates News Agency. The release also said the initiative comes from the “deep belief in the need for Arab collective cooperation to eliminate terrorism … through the collective encountering of these terrorist gangs and their misleading ideology and brutal practices.”

Even in the midst of the intensified efforts, ISIS today has released a new propaganda video which shows British journalist John Cantlie. The video features an ISIS member calling on Muslims to carry out more attacks in France. Cantile has been held captive for more two years by ISIS militants. He has previously been shown in a range of videos, including a series called “Lend Me Your Ears.”

Cantile speaks about a range of topics, including education, drone strikes and Sharia law. Addressing other Muslims living in France, he urges them to carry out further “lone wolf” strikes. The video is the second documentary-style video in the “Inside…” series, following videos from Kobane, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq.  Cantile’s family have called on ISIS to set him free, with Cantlie’s father Paul, 80, sending a message to ISIS appealing for his son’s freedom. He died shortly afterwards. Jessica Cantlie, his sister, has previously appealed for “direct contact” with the extremist militants holding him.

Finally, the US has confirmed that American hostage Cayla Mueller has been killed. Shortly after the Jordan campaign, ISIS released a statement that Jordanian missiles had resulted in the aid worker’s death. The US has not yet confirmed Mueller’s cause of death.