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PolitiFact: Biggest Arab coalition in 20 years assembles against Gadhafi

The statement

The coalition of Arab states against Libya's Moammar Gadhafi is the biggest coalition against a fellow Arab leader since the Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991.

Journalist Robin Wright, in an interview on ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour.

The ruling

We wondered whether Wright was correct about the scope of Arab support for these alliances. So we looked into it.

Going back to the Persian Gulf War, troops from several Arab states took part in ground combat, notably Egypt, Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Several smaller states along the Persian Gulf also took part in the war either in combat roles or by providing logistics or base support — Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The main exception among major Arab states was Jordan, which sided with Iraq.

The Iraq War proved much more controversial internationally, and President George W. Bush's administration had little success signing up Arab support. Scott Althaus and Kalev Leetaru of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have recorded in great detail the shifting membership of the "coalition of the willing" — the younger Bush's list of Iraq War supporters, but we could find only one Arab nation on the list, Kuwait.

Now on to Libya, where international diplomacy kicked into high gear amid fears of wider bloodshed in a rebellion against Gadhafi.

On March 12, the Arab League — a group of nearly two dozen Arab nations that recently suspended Libya's membership — urged the United Nations to establish a "no-fly" zone aimed at crippling Gadhafi's ability to strike the rebels from the air. On March 17, the U.N. Security Council complied, and the United States, France and the United Kingdom drew up military plans. Attacks began March 19.

In addition to the Arab League's support, at least two Arab nations — Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — pledged military assistance, though there are reports that the UAE has since backtracked.

So Wright is correct that the Libya campaign represents the largest alignment of Arab states against a fellow Arab leader since the Persian Gulf War.

However, support for the Libyan situation is in flux. It remains to be seen whether more Arab nations will join the effort individually — and whether troops take as significant a role in the Libyan operations as Arab troops did during the Persian Gulf War.

Still, we rate Wright's statement True.

Edited for print. For more rulings, go to

PolitiFact: Biggest Arab coalition in 20 years assembles against Gadhafi 03/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 10:00pm]
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