Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he doesn’t want Arab countries to participate in the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes in Iraq, the BBC reported on Wednesday. Abadi appeared to suggest that the Western nations bombing ISIS targets in Iraq were sufficient, although he didn’t give specifics as to why he didn’t want Arab countries bombing ISIS in Iraq.
Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain, either launched airstrikes or supported them in Syria, where ISIS controls a large swath of territory. The group, now known as the Islamic State, carved out a caliphate from land it seized in both Syria and Iraq.
Only Western nations -- the United States, United Kingdom and France – have so far conducted airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. The Iraqi prime minister said those countries “filled many gaps” in Iraq’s capabilities to fight ISIS.
Abadi said he believed the Iraqi army could defeat ISIS “if we have good air cover.” He said Iraqi troops should be the only boots on the ground.
"We are very clear we will not accept any troops on ground except Iraqi troops," he told the BBC.
Abadi blamed “international and regional polarization” for the rise of ISIS. He said he wanted to improve Iraq’s relations with his Arab neighbors, but it’s unclear how his opposition to them striking ISIS, which threatens his government’s stability, would help.