Story highlights

10 Arab nations pledged to join the United States' fight against ISIS

Half of the allies have not bombed targets in Iraq or Syria

Even those who are carrying out airstrikes don't do very many

CNN  — 

By September of last year, President Barack Obama had had enough of ISIS. The terror group had beheaded two American journalists and was seizing strategic cities and territory in Syria and Iraq.

“We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Obama vowed, expanding his bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria as well.

And the United States lined up allies in the region, producing a joint declaration with 10 Middle Eastern countries that vowed a “comprehensive fight against” ISIS. The key prongs of that strategy were stemming the flow of foreign fighters to ISIS, squeezing its funding “and, as appropriate, joining in the many aspects of a coordinated military campaign.”

But since then, about 80% of coalition bombing has been by the United States, with some support from allies in Europe, plus Canada and Australia. In fact, the United States is dropping bombs faster than it can replenish them.

Turkey, which is not Arab and was not part of the September 2014 announcement, is also carrying out some strikes against ISIS in Syria.

The 10 Arab allies against ISIS have refused to say how many airstrikes they have carried out against ISIS, but Pentagon statements reveal that half the Arab countries in the coalition have carried out no bombing in Iraq and Syria at all.

War on ISIS: Why Arab states aren’t doing more

Bahrain and Jordan haven’t dropped any bombs in months, according to a U.S. official speaking on background about the actions of allies, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates bomb about once a month. (The final country in the coalition is Iraq, which is a separate case because it’s fighting ISIS within its own borders.)

So could Middle Eastern countries be doing more to fight ISIS? There are both political and strategic factors holding them back, including regional rivalries and domestic pressures.

But critics say they could be doing more than they are. Here’s a roundup of the military capabilities of the 10 countries that joined the United States in the Jeddah Declaration.


Army: 8,500 troops

Navy: 1,000

Air force: 1,500

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 29

Military action: Some bombing of ISIS in Syria, last carried out in early autumn. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.


Army: 340,000 troops

Navy: 18,500

Air force: 100,000

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 405

Military action: No bombing in Iraq or Syria, but Egypt has bombed the ISIS affiliate in Libya. The Egyptian army is fighting the ISIS affiliate in the Sinai Desert.


Army: 274,600 troops

Navy: 3,700

Air force: 5,100

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: Unknown

Military action: Fighting ISIS in Iraq


Army: 88,000 troops

Navy: 500

Air force: 15,000

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 68

Military action: The only Arab country to have bombed ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, but it last carried out airstrikes in August.


Army: 11,000 troops

Navy: 2,700

Air force: 2,500

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 39

Military action: No bombing. Kuwait has agreed to serve as a base for coalition forces, aircraft and equipment waiting to be sent to Iraq.


Army: 53,900 troops

Navy: 1,100

Air force: 1,000

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 4

Military action: No bombing. The army is fighting ISIS within Lebanon’s borders.


Army: 31,400 troops

Navy: 4,200

Air force: 3,500

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 32

Military action: No bombing


Army: 8,500 troops

Navy: 1,800

Air force: 2,100

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 18

Military action: No bombing. Funding opposition fighters in Syria. U.S. Central Command Forward Headquarters is at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha.

Saudi Arabia

Army: 75,000 troops

Navy: 15,500

Air force: 34,000

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 259

Military action: Bombs ISIS in Syria about once a month. Funding opposition fighters in Syria.

United Arab Emirates

Army: 59,000 troops

Navy: 2,400

Air force: 4,000

Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 148

Military action: Bombs ISIS in Syria about once a month.

Which nations are attacking ISIS?

CNN’s Theresa Waldrop, Barbara Starr, Richard Morris, Pierre-Eliott Buet and Zahra Ullah contributed to this report.