According to unofficial sources, around 150,000 soldiers, 2,540 warplanes, 20,000 tanks, and 460 helicopters are participating in the largest military exercise in the history of the region.
Twenty Arab and Muslim countries and the GCC-formed Peninsula Shield are participating in the drill, led by Saudi Arabia.
A spokesman for the Arab coalition forces, Ahmad Assiri, said the aim of the exercise is to achieve the highest level of preparedness, exchange expertise and promote coordination among the participating countries.
Political observers and experts said the military exercise aims at delivering certain indirect messages at the regional and international levels, along with reaching a high level of readiness among the participating armed forces. The stage chosen for the exercise, Hafr Al-Batin in northern Saudi Arabia, adjacent to Iraq, near Iran and Syrian is also a strategic move they said.
Hafr Al-Batin is in the Eastern Province, located 430 km north of Riyadh and 94.2 km from the Kuwaiti border. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst, said, “The maneuver, which is a strong message for Iran, seeks to unify the military forces of Arab and Islamic countries. It is the first real maneuver after the Kingdom’s announcement of the formation of a 34-nation Islamic alliance against terrorism last December.”
Al-Shehri said that the Saudi government expressed its willingness for ground intervention in Syria after observing international inaction in stopping the massacres in Syria. The move will force Iran to review its regional ambitions, he said.
The Kingdom has officially launched Twitter account, @DiraAlwatan, to cover the North Thunder exercise moment by moment, in Arabic, English and French. The first tweet included information about the drill led by Saudi Arabia to highlight the high combat capabilities of these countries.
Meanwhile, Emirati troops arrived at King Khalid Military City in Hafr Al-Batin on Monday night.
The 20 countries are: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Sudan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Chad, Tunis, Djibouti, Comoros, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia Egypt, Mauritania, Mauritius.
Sources : http://www.arabnews.com/