UAE Pulls out of ISIL Fight Fearing Its Pilots’ Fate
The United Arab Emirates had pulled out of the air campaign fighting ISIL terrorists after the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
The pilot was captured in December and ISIL militants released a video Tuesday showing the man in a cage being burned alive.
The key US ally in the campaign suspended air strikes in December after the capture, fearing for the fate of its pilots, the Times said, quoting US officials.
The United Arab Emirates want the US to improve its search-and-rescue efforts, including the use of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, in northern Iraq, closer to the battleground.
As it stands, the US-led mission is based in Kuwait, administration officials said, according to the Times. It said UAE pilots will not rejoin the fight until the Ospreys — which take off and land like helicopters but fly like planes — are deployed in northern Iraq.
But UAE officials questioned if American military rescue teams would have been able to reach the pilot even if there had been more time for a rescue effort, administration officials said.
The UAE foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, asked Barbara Leaf, the new US ambassador, why the United States had not put proper resources in northern Iraq for rescuing downed pilots, a senior administration official said, according to the Times.
The UAE declined comment. “We cannot comment on issues discussed in private meetings,” an official source said in Abu Dhabi after the publication of the Times article.