The United Arab Emirates said Monday it will commit ground troops against Islamic State group fighters in Syria. Emirati State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told reporters the UAE would "participate in any international effort demanding a ground intervention to fight terrorism."
The UAE described Russian airstrikes in Syria that have largely attacked rebels supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad as attacks on a "common enemy." The UAE is a member of the U.S.-led coalition that has carried out airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, operating in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. and other Western leaders have been critical of Russia's airstrike campaign because they want Assad removed from power.
After terror attacks killed or wounded hundreds in Paris on Nov. 13, the debate among global leaders on whether to send ground troops to Syria has grown. Iran reportedly has sent hundreds of troops to support Assad's regime. Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham called Sunday for 100,000 foreign soldiers, most from Sunni regional states, to fight ISIS in Syria.
Gargash also on Monday praised Saudi Arabia's campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed rebels as "an alternative model" to Western intervention in the region. "The global strategy to fight terrorism is no longer fruitful or enough," he said.
The Emirates has one of the world’s most comprehensive air forces. Its $390 billion economy is the second-largest in the Gulf Cooperation Council, after Saudi Arabia.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited the UAE last week to broker a solution to the Syrian crisis. He said a ceasefire between Assad's troops and rebel fighters was the best way to ensure security in Syria.
“Everything helps move everything else," he said. “What we’re trying to do is now stop [Assad] from dropping barrel bombs. And we’re working with the Russians and others to try to create pressure on that and that’s one of the reasons why we’re looking for a ceasefire.”