14:35 GMT +3 hours27 August 2016
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A Syrian Kurdish militia member of YPG patrols near a Turkish army tank as Turks work to build a new Ottoman tomb in the background in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria. (File)

Turkey 'Wants a Ground Operation' in Syria, Ankara Looking for 'Friends'

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Despite last week’s international agreement to a Syrian ceasefire, Turkish officials are pushing for a ground war that would involve the United States and other NATO allies.

On Monday, Omer Celik, spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, stressed that Ankara had no interest in a ground invasion of Syria.

"Turkey does not think about [a] ground operation," he said during an interview with Haberturk TV.

But a number of Turkish officials have contradicted Celik’s claim.

"We want a ground operation," one official told reporters, adding that, "If there is a consensus, Turkey will take part. Without a ground operation it is impossible to stop this war."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara’s desire for a ground intervention involved a coalition of Western allies.

"Some countries like us, Saudi Arabia and some other Western European countries have said that a ground operation is necessary…But to expect this only from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar is neither right nor realistic," he said.

"If such an operation is to take place, it has to be carried out jointly, like the [coalition] air strikes."

Cavusoglu has repeatedly pushed for stronger military intervention.

"Of course, there would be air strikes but a cleansing on the ground is also needed. I stated in every meeting…that Daesh could not be destroyed or stopped by air strikes," he said.

Saudi Arabia has also expressed an interest in deploying troops to Syria. Earlier this month, the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, said that the Saudi Ministry of Defense is prepared to send thousands of ground troops to Syria as part of a coalition operation.

While both Ankara and Riyadh state their goal is to wipe out Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, their actions indicate otherwise. Until recently, Saudi Arabia had expressed little interest in eliminating Daesh. Any military intervention would more likely be aimed at removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, in order to maintain regional dominance.

It remains unclear whether Riyadh can afford to conduct such a large-scale operation. Already embroiled in Yemen, Saudi Arabia could find it logistically and financially difficult to fund a second war, especially in light of falling oil prices.

"Saudi Arabia should be careful not to overstretch its military and diplomatic efforts, as Syria could be 'quicksand' for them," Paul Sullivan, a professor with the National Defense University, told Defense News.

Turkey appears to be more interested in fighting Syrian Kurds than actual terrorist organizations, in particular the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

"We will retaliate against every step [by the YPG]," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday.

Ankara is currently actively shelling YPG positions in northern Syria from across the border, a violation that Russia plans to address before the UN Security Council.

While both Turkey and Saudi Arabia stress that ground operations would be contingent on US involvement, Washington has remained hesitant to become directly involved in another Middle Eastern ground war.

But according to Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, Turkey will continue to apply pressure to the US.

"We may be thinking differently but both sides need to put in more effort to iron out these differences," he said. Our American friends have openly told us that they understand our sensitivities."

Related:
US Urges Turkey to Cease Artillery Fire in Syria
Russia to Bring Up Issue of Turkey Shelling Northern Syria at UNSC
Turkish, Saudi Plans on Syria Ground Operation to 'Ruin Int'l Efforts'
Tags:
Syrian conflict, Daesh, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Paul Sullivan, Ahmet Davutoglu, Mevlut Cavusoglu, United States, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey
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  • beydety
    Apart from the idiotic Arab Gulf states no one else is stupid enough to join the Turkeys .
  • backfromthegraav
    Tiome fo a Groud War in NAZI Turkey ... the Nazi turks are illegally occupying the land of Kurdistan .... Nazi Turks all 70 Million are Velcome in germany !
  • Mother Gorilla
    Many Turks have sympathies for IS, the anger and sorrow about suicide attempts in Istanbul and Ankara being eclipsed by the glee over the West's misfortunes. This conservatism has been actively fuelled by the Erdogan regime, so has the hatred against and fear of Kurds. So, this is why they would go with Erdogan even though to us outsiders, he seems quite confused.
  • goaisminein reply toJet fuel can't melt steel beams(Show commentHide comment)
    Jet fuel can't melt steel beams, well you got it almost right
    but still dont get it - the ISIL has to be there to keep the YPG's off's Erdgogan's throat and to attack the Syrian Forces and steahl Syrian Oil
    so why should Erdogan and his allies attack the ISIL ??
    Erdogan and his Clan are just to figure out how they can explain the advantages of a Inavasion led by the US/NATO
    So if Turkey invades no matter with or without it would be a two-sided
    front war one against the YPG's and the Syrian Army and Russia and last but not least Iran - the US would be confronted with Iran no doubt !
  • Aon Duine
    The Turks are hilarious. This is pure fantasy! No Western NATO country is going to touch Syria with a ten foot pole.
  • Mother Gorilla
    The question then is, what does the West really want? Probably eat the pie, keep the finger in it and keep it, too, meaning get the oil, get rid of both Assad and the terrorists, and maintain or reach dominance in all of the Middle East. Given that the interest is so intense Turkey is an essential ally, and the West won't hang it out to dry, in spite of all the corruption, human rights abuse and shelling of YPG.
  • Mother Gorillain reply tobeydety(Show commentHide comment)
    beydety, wait til after the US elections. The new president will probably be enough under Pentagon, MIC influence!
  • Mother Gorillain reply tobackfromthegraav(Show commentHide comment)
    backfromthegraav, hell no, leave some space for us Africans!
  • affordable.guy
    Nothing like a NATO neighbor..
  • wendigo
    The west seems divided or at least confused about Syria. Some look like they want to own it and others act like they wish it didn't exist. Turkey will act alone if plan a, sucking a western military in to help them, doesn't go anywhere. The Saudis might throw a few jets and troops in, but the Turkish leadership is quite willing to rampage around both Syria and Iraq, wherever they think they can get away with killing more Kurds. That doesn't mean that they won't get their asses kicked. Gotta be some Syrian, Iranian, and Russian planning officers hoping they do invade.
  • AnomicDust
    Turkey is begging to be beaten with the terrorists flowing across the border. NATO is not so stupid. They prefer to keep their distance from the cockroaches like an absentee slumlord, reaping predictable rewards.
  • Ann in reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
    Mother Gorilla, It is kinda hard to find a country that doesn't want to see the U.S. fail, isn't it. Can't say that their ire isn't justified.
  • Ann in reply togoaismine(Show commentHide comment)
    goaismine, regardless of how they package it, ALL foreign 'interests' are wrong. They ALL disregard the Syrian people and their govt as inconsequential to their desires. This entire thing is wrong-headed.
  • Mitach2002
    Shhhhh. I'm trying to hear NATO or the terrorist American governments objections to this unlawful action.
    It's awful quiet.
  • vendor
    Talking kebabs and kabanas.
  • backfromthegraavin reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
    Mother Gorilla, No need ... Africans can go to Germany ... Merkle has already said, ALL VELCOME !
  • Mother Gorillain reply tobackfromthegraav(Show commentHide comment)
    backfromthegraav, you forget about Seehofer (CSU), AfD, Pegida and all these bastards!
  • Mother Gorillain reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9, but there are many countries, for instance in Eastern Europe, that still think more highly of them than of the EU, in fact, hope that they will protect them against EU overregulation...
  • backfromthegraavin reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
    Mother Gorilla, The world (170 countries aligned with the BRICS) is not going to wait another Year to See who is "Elected - Placed" !
  • Mother Gorillain reply tobackfromthegraav(Show commentHide comment)
    backfromthegraav, that's not what I mean, it is not so important who becomes president, all countries know that, and regardless, you really think people can't wait for war? In fact, wouldn't it be nice if we could stop time on the battlefield in Syria and in some other places as well, stop the expansion by IS, the Turkish/Saudi invasion, the Turkish bombings of the PKK, US and allied bombings, even the Russian ones?
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