The United Arab Emirates — one of the first Arabic nations to join the fight against the Islamic State last September — pulled out of an air campaign against the terrorist group after a Jordanian pilot was captured in December.
The New York Times reports that the small Persian Gulf nation informed the Pentagon that their jets would no longer partake in bombing missions over Islamic State territory after the capture of a downed Jordanian pilot on December 24. That pilot, Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, was burned alive by the terrorists in early January.
The UAE, which provided some of the heaviest initial bombardments of Islamic State positions back in September, told American officials they would not continue their campaign until the United States bases fast-moving Osprey rescue aircraft in northern Iraqi bases. A senior military official told the Times that the Islamic State “grabbed” al-Kasasbeh before there was any time for U.S. forces to mount a rescue operation.
It’s a huge setback for the Obama administration, who promised to lead a broad Arab coalition that could confront and halt the Islamic State. On CNN Wednesday afternoon, Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said all the other Arab nations in the coalition – with the exception of Jordan – had also ceased air strikes in Syria.
After the brutal death of al-Kasasbeh was broadcast on Tuesday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II vowed to step up his nation’s military campaign against the Islamic State.