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Combatting ISIS requires ground forces: Saudi Prince Miteb - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz (L) and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (2nd L) at the Pentagon on November 21, 2014 in Arlington, US. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz (L) and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (2nd L) at the Pentagon on November 21, 2014 in Arlington, US. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat—Fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group requires the deployment of ground forces, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of National Guard Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz told reporters at the Pentagon, after meeting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other senior officials on Friday.

“I think the presence of ground forces will achieve better results in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” said the Saudi Prince who arrived in Washington on an official visit on Tuesday.

Prince Miteb arrived at the headquarters of the US Department of Defense on Friday and was received by Hagel. The two officials held a closed meeting to discuss issues of mutual interest, including military cooperation between the two countries, counter-terrorism efforts and the international coalition against ISIS, Prince Miteb told reporters.

“We discussed efforts to combat terrorism, particularly since Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of countries fighting [this phenomenon] and is participating, as part of the international community, in the international coalition against ISIS,” he said.

When asked about the makeup of any potential anti-ISIS ground forces, Prince Miteb said the Kingdom believes that the Iraqi army and Syrian opposition can take on the role of fighting the terrorist group.

“We are confident that the Iraqi army can act as a ground force in Iraq and the Syrian opposition can lead the ground forces in Syria,” he said.

The Prince highlighted the Kingdom’s interest in training and developing the military capabilities of the moderate opposition factions in Syria.

The Prince praised the “strong strategic partnership” between the Kingdom and the US and said that the war on terror is a common objective for both countries to restore security and peace to the region.

He also referred to the strong ties between the Saudi National Guard and the US Department of Defense that “stretch back to 1973” and led to the effective training of members of the Saudi military institution.

Prince Miteb attributed the partnership to the “foresight” of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz who deepened ties between the two institutions when he was in charge of the National Guard.

On the issue of buying weapons from the US, Prince Miteb said: “[The King] always seeks to update and develop the defense system of all military sectors, including that of the National Guard, so that it operates at the highest levels.” He also referred to specialist technical military committees, which are studying the needs and requirements of the Saudi military.

Responding to a question on the creation of a new aerial defense system and air force for the National Guard, Prince Miteb said: “The National Guard is going through a constant process of renewal and development as well as establishing all forces required for the protection of religion and the homeland.”

On the issue of the Iran nuclear talks that are entering a crucial final stage over the weekend before a November 24 deadline, the Saudi Prince said: “I hope the negotiations succeed in reaching a solution.”