U.S. officials announced Thursday that the United Arab Emirates followed through on its promise to provide warplanes to defend the U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya.
This was welcome news to many coalition forces, who hoped to show the world that this is not another Western-only intervention in the Arab world.
“The U.A.E. further underscores the broad, international support for the protection of the Libyan people," the White House said in a statement.
The White House thanked the U.A.E. and called its participation in Libya “critical.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the U.A.E. as she welcomed NATO's decision to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. However, NATO will not be taking total control of the military operations against Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
When enforcement of the no-fly zone first began, the U.A.E. hesitated to join military efforts, instead focusing on its commitment to support a humanitarian campaign.
It’s been widely reported that the pledges of participation from Arab countries was a crucial factor in the Obama administration’s decision to participate in military action over Libya.
Reports indicate that intense, behind-the-scene conversations had taken place before the decision.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the country’s decision was the result of extensive consultations between the Obama administration and the U.A.E. in recent days, according to American and Emirati officials.
The U.A.E. is the second Arab country to send fighter jets to the region. Qatar had sent two fighters and two military transport planes, Reuters reported. The U.A.E has now made the largest Arab commitment to the effort by sending 12 fighter jets.
U.A.E. support is especially helpful after the no-fly zone was criticized by General Amr Mussa from the Arab League. He said the coalition’s actions exceeded the bounds set by the U.N. no-fly zone resolution.
Washington had sought Arab support in the campaign with an aim to build on the 22-member Arab League’s approval of the no-fly zone earlier this month.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Kuwait and Jordan are providing logistical capabilities. Turkey's parliament on Thursday authorized the government to participate in military operations in Libya, including the no-fly zone, according to the Associated Press.