18:26 GMT +3 hours27 July 2016
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A Syrian man runs for cover as smoke rises from buildings nearby following a reported bombing attack, Aleppo, Syria (file photo)

Tension Escalation: 'Turkish and Saudi Boots in Syria May Trigger WW3'

© AFP 2016/ MOHAMMED AL-KHATIEB
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Turkey and Saudi Arabia began joint air exercises, which would last for five days, the Turkish military said. The drills are within the framework of cooperation and military training between the two countries.

They come three days after Ankara announced that Saudi jets would be placed at Turkey’s Incirlik base in order to fight Daesh.

Riyadh is also conducting ground and air exercises with Egypt and Jordan near the Iraqi border. Earlier, both Turkey and Saudi Arabia considered deploying ground troops in Syria to battle Daesh, but only as part of the US-led coalition.

However, many experts say that eliminating Daesh is not the real goal. Riyadh and Ankara are staunch opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and have been insisting on his removal since the start of the Syrian crisis.

Former US diplomat and adviser to US Senate Republican leadership Jim Jatras told Radio Sputnik that Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s possible ground operation will be directed against Assad.

“The Syrian army with Russian air support is making some serious gains; there is a strong chance that the city of Aleppo will be retaken by government forces it’s essentially surrounded now. The so-called Azaz corridor from Northern Syria into Turkey, which is an essential supply line for the jihadists, is effectively cut and there are indications now that the Syrian army may be moving toward Raqqa, the capital of Daesh. So this means that basically Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s policy of overthrowing Assad is backed by the United States and the western powers are nearing complete collapse and they are desperate to mix things up.”

Jatras further said, “Let’s take this notion of moderate rebels. There is no such thing as a moderate terrorist. All these opposition groups are to one extent or another Jihadists sharing the same radical Sunni ideology to install a Sunni sectarian state or Shariah against the wishes of the majority of Syrian people. Now let’s remember that the Syrian army is mostly Sunni, the generals are mostly Sunni, the first lady is Sunni. Most people even in the Sunni community do not support the sectarian agenda much less the Alawites and the Christians.”

The analyst noted, “Nonetheless the Turks and the Saudis and the Gulf states will accept no other outcome than their preferred plan which is to overthrow the government and create something like an ISIS or al-Qaeda-led state.”

Talking about actual boots on the ground in Syria, Jatras said that what mostly Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other gulf states are doing is trying to pressure the US to lead some kind of ground effort into Syria, ostensibly against Daesh but really directed against the Assad government.

“I don’t know that President Obama wants to start something like this in his last year in office that potentially could kick off World War III if it becomes a direct confrontation with the Russians in Syria. If the Americans block, I think the likelihood of Saudis being crazy enough to do this on their own is quite small, although I could be wrong. But after all, they can’t even handle the Houthis in Yemen and then going to take on Russians and the Syrian Army, I don’t think so,” Jatras said.

Talking about Turkey, the analyst said that it is hard to tell because their president is very irrational. “Erdogan is so irrational and so afraid of any kind of Kurdish presence on the Assyrian border; there is no telling what he might do.”

Related:
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Turkey Still Looking for NATO Allies to Start Ground Campaign in Syria
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Tags:
escalation, crisis, rebels, interview, Daesh, Bashar al-Assad, Turkey, Syria
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  • cast235
    Russia WILL be FORCED to act... Whether it like it or not. There will be no way, Russia can allow the fall of Damascus and the cleansing that will follow.
    If that;s the case, just GO BACK TO RUSSIA... Why create hopes, to then fail the people that can ONLY Trust Russia. And get OFF the talks too. A BIG WASTE OF TIME!!

    IF Russia there, it MUST strength Syria enough to contain and attack on it's own. Arm Iran, that will definitely get involved, BLIND.. The rest will do what it can. Iran should get a few SU 30 as emergency. MIG 29 modernized, YAK 130 . The S 300 should just move in. IF they not trained, Russia could run it.
    Is not time to talk. An invasion means, IRAN will be attacked.
  • copius
    Russia has already calculated the moves since 2007. They knew of what turkey and Saudi were doing. The plan is to draw turkey and Saudi into a war and then finish them off with a single blow. That would immediately increase oil prices. Non OPEC will freeze output first, then Saudi oil will be put in danger. As usual Arabs are stupid suckers.
  • Mother Gorilla
    Turkey and Saudi Arabia are just creating some disruption to keep the pot boiling until the next U.S. president comes along. Without outside involvement Assad and the Russians should have gotten the situation under control already.
  • Mother Gorillain reply tocopius(Show commentHide comment)
    copius, I think cast235 is right, while the Russians are strong, they are neither so calculating nor so power hungry. Plus there is the risk of a major regional war involving Iran. And the oil price is no longer quite as important as it used to be, countries are already going for alternatives.
  • Randall Lee Hilburn in reply tocast235(Show commentHide comment)
    cast235, It is possible that Turkey and Saudi Arabia will draw Russia into a conflict with them in Syria, and then the US and Israel will attack Iran.
  • Huh?in reply tocast235(Show commentHide comment)
    cast235,
    The greater complexity is this is not a single pronged effort. if it was only protect one country, that might be possible, even simple. But, this has all the signs of an asymmetrical war that has an ideology wrapped in multiple cloaks. While one player recedes, another steps up. Russia is fully aware that the countries involved are playing this game. Each one pokes the bear, then runs away...then another pokes the bear and run away and so on.
    While the goal may be Syria or Iran...the real feature appears to be keeping coalition forces in Iraq, so that it separates Syria and Iran, thus attempting to nullify a 3 country powerhouse. Iran, Iraq and Syria combined would be an insurmountable trilogy. Coupled with Russian firepower both defensive and offensive, there wouldn't be much anyone could do as they control vast quantities of resources between the 4 countries.
  • michael
    hence the Russian response of sending the Tu 214R
  • michaelin reply toHuh?(Show commentHide comment)
    Huh?, agreed and that is another reason then for ukraine to be talking about declaring war against Russia as well.
  • siberianhusky
    And so it starts.
    Just how 1941 started when everybody got dragged in to the WW1 because of a few lunatics like the KSA camel humpers and Turkey
  • in reply tocopius(Show commentHide comment)
    copius, The 14mbpd salt water injection plant at Qurayah can be destroyed by a hypersonic missile from the PG in FIVE MINUTES, and with it goes 14x60%= 8.5mbpd of daily saud oil production - the camel fu...s are back to using sand for kleenex, PERMANENTLY.
  • The Russia/Syria defence pact, akin to the Turkey/NATO pact, allows Russia to use tactical nuclear weapons on Syrian soil and an 18k force is just cannon fodder. The US devils require to load up a colin powell style .5m force first. Even then the Russian have shown their Caspian/Armenia Brahmos hypersonic cruise missiles will decimate this force if required. However for eretz yisrael the city and population of greater Damascus of 3m has to be "removed", bibi will do that.
  • The Saudis are shackled by their war in Yemen. IF the Saudis are arrogant enough to invade Syria, it would be straight forward to appropriately supply the Houthis in Yemen in order to refocus the Saudis attention. Further, it would be simple enough to cripple Saudi oil exports which would quickly cripple Saudi's economy. The Syrian air force could do this, after all, if the Saudis attack Syria, a reprisal attack is fair game.

    Egypt can ill afford to antagonize Russia. There is too much at stake to risk any economic retaliation that would result.

    Jordan would hardly go along with the Saudis if there was not a major stake holder involved. Sharing a border with Syria, Jordan can ill afford to further antagonize Syria unless they are sure that Damascus will fall. As they say <paybacks are a ......>

    I doubt any EU government has the appetite for involvement, even Germany "under the guise of stemming the flow of refugees" Such a deployment would prove very unpopular at home. The UK is still licking its wounds from its experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. And France knows that their involvement would completely derail any chance of rapprochement with Russia. Anyway, both England and France are already discussing ground actions in Libya.

    Turkey is another story, Erdogan is insane and desperate. But surely Turkey understands that Syrian airspace is off limits after shooting down both Russian and Syrian aircraft for "supposedly violating Turkish airspace" Without air cover any Turkish presence on Syrian territory would be a duck shoot for the Syrian air force. This is why Turkey is so desperate to get American ground forces overtly involved as "human shields".

    The big question: "Is the American Government insane enough to deploy a significant ground force in support of Turkey"? Imagine how the diplomatic landscape would change if Russia successfully blocked the invasion. The whole world is sitting on the edge of their chairs.
  • Marc Nonnenkamp
    There are those among Europe's NATO member countries who say that Turkey will get no "unconditional backing" should they be so foolish as to wage war against Russia in Syria.
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