UAE’s 1st female fighter pilot carried out anti-IS strikes
UAE’s 1st female fighter pilot carried out anti-IS strikes
Social media has been buzzing with rumors that F-16 pilot Maj. Mariam Al-Mansouri played a part in attacks against the jihadist group, with many users taking delight in the rebuke it implied toward the militants’ ultraconservative ideology.
Ambassador Yousef Al-Otaiba’s comments were the first public confirmation of her role.
“She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot, and she led the mission,” Al-Otaiba said during an appearance on American cable channel MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The Emirati embassy quickly posted word of the diplomat’s confirmation on its official Twitter feed.
The Emirates, a seven-state federation that includes the capital of Abu Dhabi and the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai, is one of five Arab countries that have joined the US-led coalition carrying out the airstrikes in Syria. It is a major buyer of American-made weapons, with an arsenal that includes F-16 fighter planes and Apache attack helicopters.
Al-Mansouri was born in Abu Dhabi and graduated from the country’s Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in 2007, according to a profile earlier this year in the government-owned newspaper The National. She is one of eight children and has a degree in English literature.
“Sorry #ISIS, I know this too much and so harsh but it’s real,” taunted Twitter user @kafrev, which purports to represent an opposition-held town in Syria, using an alternate name for the Islamic State group. “A woman bombed you!“
Emirati leaders have taken steps to raise the status of women in the oil-rich country, which has modernized rapidly since its formation in 1971 and is now home to a cosmopolitan blend of foreign businesspeople, expatriate professionals and low-paid migrant workers who together far outnumber the local population.
While traditional values remain strong and men dominate government posts, Emirati women have served as government ministers, police officers and executives in state-linked companies.
Al-Otaiba linked Al-Mansouri’s role to the campaign to defeat the Islamic State group.
“Do you want a model or a society that allows women to become ministers in government, female fighter pilots, business executives, artists? Or do you want a society where if a woman doesn’t cover up in public she’s beaten or she’s lashed or she’s raped? This is ultimately what this breaks down to,” he said.
It is important that moderate Arab and Muslim nations take a stand against the Islamic State militants, Al-Otaiba said, describing the group as “a threat to our way of life.”
“We will bring whatever is necessary to defeat ISIS,” he added.
Iran scrambles for European lifeline
- ‘Noose is tightening on Tehran’ in face of US sanctions, expert tells Arab News
- US President Donald Trump has long criticized the deal with Iran saying it failed to do enough to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
JEDDAH: Signatories of the Iran nuclear deal met in Vienna on Friday in a bid to save the agreement after Washington’s dramatic withdrawal earlier this month.
For the first time since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) came into force in 2015, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany gathered — at Iran’s request — without the US, which pulled out of the agreement on May 8 and said it would reinstate sanctions.
US President Donald Trump has long criticized the deal with Iran — concluded under his predecessor Barack Obama — saying it failed to do enough to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Speaking to AFP after Friday’s meeting, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi, said: “We are negotiating... to see if they can provide us with a package that can give Iran the benefits of sanctions lifting.”
“Practical solutions” were required to address Iran’s concerns over its oil exports, banking flows and foreign investment in the country, he said.
Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov struck an upbeat note after the meeting, saying: “We have all the chances to succeed, provided we have the political will.
Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News that it would be against Europe’s interests to stay in the deal.
“The European nations should be cognizant of the fact that the beneficiary of the nuclear deal is Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its militias,” he said. “Staying in the deal or submitting to the Iranian regime’s new demands will inflict damage on the EU’s geopolitical and national security interest in the short and long term.”
The EU could not thwart or skirt US primary and secondary sanctions against Iran, he said. Rafizadeh said Iran’s hard-liners were attempting to obtain concessions from the EU by threatening to pull out of the JCPOA.
“But from the perspective of the Iranian leaders, giving concessions means weakness. And although Iran is playing tough, it needs the deal to support Bashar Assad and its proxies.
“The European governments should be aware that the Iranian leaders — moderates and hard-liners — are playing a shrewd tactical game.
“The regime is playing a classic ‘good cop, bad cop’ game. The moderates set the tone on the international stage through their shrewd diplomatic skills and softer tone, while the hard-liners take a tougher stance to help the moderates win more concessions,” said Rafizadeh.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said the noose was tightening on Tehran.
“European firms simply cannot afford the penalties imposed by US secondary sanctions on Iran. The Iranian plan to press Europe to compensate for President Trump’s policy decision to restart a crippling sanctions regime is unlikely to prove fruitful,” he told Arab News.
Recent revelations of a covert Iranian facility designed to develop long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be fitted with nuclear warheads will only complicate matters for Tehran as it scrambles for a European lifeline, Shahbandar said.
“The collapse of the JCPOA is likely to prove a major shock to the Iranian economy in the long run,” he said.