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Saudi Arabia & Turkey to Invade Syria?

2016 February 15
by Ian Welsh

It’s hard for me to credit anyone for being so careless, but the Independent reports that:

Saudi Arabia is sending troops and fighter jets to Turkey’s Incirlik military base ahead of a possible ground invasion of Syria.

“At every coalition meeting we have always emphasised the need for an extensive result-oriented strategy in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group.

“If we have such a strategy, then Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch an operation from the land.”

So… they will claim that they are fighting ISIS, which is, by this point, I suppose, traditional. Turkey is already shelling Kurdish positions in northern Syria.

Of course, Saudi Arabia is not credible on this (at least with regards to a large commitment), with their involvement in Yemen, especially as they are also considering invading that country.  But Turkey is. I hope this is just bluster, intended to sway negotiations.

If it isn’t, this is a fiasco, a catastrophe, waiting to happen. Unlike the other foreign forces with boots on the ground (Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah, Russia), these forces would obviously not be invited by the Syrian government.

Syrian forces, backed by Russian airpower, are now fighting quite close to the Turkish border. Their aim has been to close that border so that various rebels (including ISIS) can’t receive supplies from Turkey.

It should be pointed out that if Daesh/ISIS has a government ally in the world, it is Turkey. As for Saudi Arabia, well, Daesh’s theology is a very close descendant of their branch of Islam.

Perhaps more to the point, all those armies tromping around in a rather small country risks war between Russia/Syria/Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia/Turkey.

Russian supply lines to Syria are not the best, to put it mildly. Turkey can close the direct sea route from Sevastopol, and alternative routes require going through some dangerous territory.

I wonder what Russia would do in such a situation. The Turkish military is very large and right on the border. A Turkish attack on Syria can’t be considered an existential threat to Russia, so Russian nuclear doctrine doesn’t call for use of battlefield nukes, but… I get twitchy when a NATO member goes up against Russia, and Turkey is a member of NATO.

Russia created “facts on the ground,” which have led to a realization that Assad will probably survive and that the rebels are doomed.

It seems those who wanted Assad gone the most now want to create their own “counter-facts” on the ground. Either they get rid of Assad in peace deals (assuming they avoid outright conflict), or they divide up Syria, with Turkey getting a good chunk of it.

That’s the plan. If they do invade, I find myself almost hoping the plan “works,” because if it doesn’t “work” that will most likely be because of general war between the powers.

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This is an absolute catastrophe waiting to happen. I find it unlikely this could be done without the US’s approval, and, given Obama’s recent statement about how Russia should stop hitting “moderate” opposition targets in Syria, I can only assume he’s greenlighted this.

Were I in the White House, I’d be telling Saudi Arabia and Turkey not to. If they insisted on doing it anyway, I’d go public with a warning not to, and a UN Security Council motion with the US voting against Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

And let’s be perfectly, brutally frank here: If they want to do this, I’d tell Turkey that NATO’s “an attack on one is an attack on all” principle will not apply here. You do this, we’re not getting into a nuclear war for you. This is not self-defense.

As for Saudi Arabia, I’d have a pointed conversation about the price of oil and their budget. However, as much as they think the price of oil will increase if there is a war in Syria, their economy is still in bad shape, and the US could total it tomorrow if they chose to–simply through Treasury sanctions. Likewise, an end to parts and ammunition for their military would curtail them.

These are stern, even radical steps. Avoiding a war with Russia justifies them. There is nothing in Syria worth the risk of having all these armies stomping around, especially after Turkey has already shot down one Russian plane.

12 Responses
  1. V. Arnold permalink
    February 15, 2016

    This is an absolute catastrophe waiting to happen. I find it unlikely this could be done without the US’s approval, and given Obama’s recent statement about how Russia should stop hitting “moderate” opposition targets in Syria I can only assume he’s greenlighted this.

    Yes, how bloody crazy is that?
    I’ve been following this quite closely and Russia’s success has caused the U.S. hegemon to lose face; a criminal offense in today’s world.
    The arrogance and hubris of the U.S. is stunningly stupid. It is patently obvious the U.S. does not have a clue about Russia and its culture; or history, for that matter.
    What is not (apparently) understood is this; Russia has red lines and will not be bullied by the west/U.S.; period!!!!
    The utter incompetence of U.S. “diplomacy?” is beyond belief.
    Frankly; I’m preparing for a huge conflict up to and including tactical nukes, leading to, who knows what…
    The psychopath’s in charge are blinded by their own deluded radiance…

  2. Jerome permalink
    February 15, 2016

    Everyone claims they are aiming for ISIS, and that they have allies. Instead, it’s been a proxy war being waged over many other things, now spilling over into a real war between the powers? Maybe, but it’s got a long way to go.

  3. highrpm permalink
    February 15, 2016

    antony sutton’s trilogy, “wall street and…”, the history of big bank instigation of ww1 and ww2 for whatever their strategies were…comes to mind. obama’s phone is likely not too busy besides some PR here and there. all the big decisions have been made. too many smart rich folks at the top not to have strategized this long and hard.

  4. highrpm permalink
    February 15, 2016

    unfortunately for mostly the little folks who the suffer stealing, killing and destroying of the global war economy, big global money plays at the top in russia as well as the mideast and everywhere. these evil bastards have not an ounce of compassion. in the service of making money is much evil.

    i wish for another marriner s eccles. but even more. advancing ian’s earlier utility discussion, paying all humanity the same wage might help reduce conflict, personal and global. so the self worth is not a function of money. of course the gamers would either invent a new more devious system to get more than their common share. all the “tragedy of the commons.”

  5. highrpm permalink
    February 15, 2016

    …US analysts on Syria as far back as 2005. Pressuring Syria to adopt a more favorable political stance toward Israel seems to have been among the chief objectives…”

    the nature of humanity is justice must be served. even generationally. certaintly for more than just zionism, the guilty parties profiting from death and destruction, pocketed money in addition to turning their wetdream of a state of israel in palestine into reality.

    as long as the rogue state is there, occupying what is not rightfully theirs, the mideast will have conflict. always the knee jerk retort, “that option is not on the table. they will never leave voluntarily.” no, justice is in the nature of humanity. some generation will serve it, sometime. it must be done. the powers that be cannot redefine our very nature, not until google & co. get lots better at breaking the recipes for all the cells that make a human up.

    now or later. at lesser or greater cost. the eastern european occupiers must return palestine to its rightful owners.

  6. highrpm permalink
    February 15, 2016

    i’ll shut up after this.

    February 9, 2016

    By Stephen Gowans

    Documents prepared by US Congress researchers as early as 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria long before the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, challenging the view that US support for the Syrian rebels is based on allegiance to a “democratic uprising” and showing that it is simply an extension of a long-standing policy of seeking to topple the government in Damascus. Indeed, the researchers made clear that the US government’s motivation to overthrow the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is unrelated to democracy promotion in the Middle East.

    so, jeb baby threw a missed punch back when trump noted the 9/11 and the iraq invasion purposed on WMD happened on his brother’s watch. said jeb, “while you were building hotels, my brother was building security structures to keep this country safe.”

    more accurately, GW was enabling the zionist bankers’ to carry out their schemes.

  7. highrpm permalink
    February 15, 2016

    stephen gowans’ refs,

    31. Virtually every member of the Obama administration, past and present, is a member of the Wall Street-dominated Council on Foreign Relations, or additionally, has spent part of his or her career on Wall Street. Wall Street was a major source of Obama’s election campaign funding. The strong interlock between Wall Street and the executive branch of the US government is not unique to the Obama administration. See my “Aspiring to Rule the World: US Capital and the Battle for Syria,” what’s left, December 15, 2015.

    gee, right in line with what antony sutton described. making money permeates our daily life.

  8. Gaianne permalink
    February 15, 2016

    Certainly the US is gambling on nuclear war here. That is part of the bluff. Without the threat of nuclear war, ISIS loses, the Turks lose, and that is that.

    Keep your eye on the ball: This is about Russia, not Syria and Assad, and always has been. It’s about the Russian naval base at Tarsus. And at least as important, it’s about a US base for jihadi adventures in the Russian near abroad.

    Global war is inevitable, because the US wants it. The Russians want to delay it–because time is on their side–and they have been doing a good job of delaying.

    But the Pentagon does not want war either. Fat defense contracts is one thing, actually fighting and being shot out of the sky or blown up on the ground is another. The Pentagon knows, though it will not admit, that the Russians have regional superiority in both numbers and weapons.

    Physically, the strategic center of the world is currently Syria. But ideologically, the strategic center lies between the Pentagon and the US State Department. State is run by fanatical ideologues. The Pentagon is run by generals serving out their time. State is winning.

    But can State truly back the Pentagon into the ultimate corner? That, and what happens then, is what nobody knows.

    The Russians are still working to avoid that branch on the Tree of Fate.


  9. Tom permalink
    February 15, 2016

    YPG just seized Tell Rifaat. Turkey is intensifying artillery strikes along their advance on Azaz.

    FSA holds just a narrow sliver around Azaz. Its defenses fail, YPG and IS meet somewhere along that line. SAA for its part is letting YPG advance along the Border to concentrate on Aleppo City itself and securing Safira. Assad’s main concern is securing Aleppo-Idlib Road. Once that is done, Russian Aide can flow uninterrupted to Aleppo and Assad can then backstab YPG and go East.

    At least in theory. It comes down to if the current players throw in the towel or refuse to surrender and keep fighting like the Taliban till money exhaustion saps their opponents’ will.

  10. markfromireland permalink
    February 16, 2016


    Saudi ground military capacity is laughable and their logistical efforts are strongly reminiscent of the Keystone cops. They’re good at killing unarmed civilian protestors in Bahrain and that’s all they’re good at.

    Their air force is equally weak. Most of their pilots are Pakistani hirelings and their planes are tethered to their bases where the maintenance is also done by foreigners.

    The only Saudi forces who won’t crumple at the slightest serious resistance are their National Guard who are used exclusively for internal security and protection of the Saudi royal family.

    I rather suspect that this is why the Saudis say their troops will fight only if they’re doing so alongside American troops in an American led operation.

    The Turkish armed forces on the other hand are viable and effective unlike their Saudi brethren they won’t run away squealing like stuck pigs the moment they come under sustained fire.

  11. markfromireland permalink
    February 16, 2016

    Oh and by the way – I rather suspect that given what the Saudis have been up to for the last generation or so that the assorted battle hardened Shi’i, Alawite, Yazhidi, and assorted Kurdish forces currently in Syria would just love to have a chance to express their feelings about Wahabbis in general and Saudi Wahabbis in particular using captured Saudi flesh as their instrument. You can be very certain that the Saudi troops now on their way to Jordan are well aware of that and will be correspondingly eager to avoid even the possibility of capture in the event of hostilities.

  12. Hvd permalink
    February 18, 2016

    It looks like he Turks may now have their gulf of Tonkin with the bombing by a “Syrian Kurd terrorist”. How convenient and how scary.

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