21:59 GMT +325 September 2017
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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 2017/ 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.”

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    Tags:
    escalation, crisis, rebels, interview, Daesh, Bashar al-Assad, Turkey, Syria
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