21:36 GMT03 August 2020
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    Even though both Turkey and Saudi Arabia could find themselves in a “highly combustible situation” in Syria if they decide to send in their ground troops, the two nevertheless “seem more than willing to get directly engaged.” It is definitely not about Daesh, says foreign policy expert Salman Rafi Sheikh, so what is the real reason?

    “The officially and un-officially sponsored popular contention that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are aiming at sending ground troops to Syria out of the fear of Islamic State (Daesh) hitting them is merely an illusion that has no practical substance,” Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs writes in his article for the New Eastern Outlook website.

    “The illusion of an anti-IS (Daesh) Saudi-Turk military intervention in Syria is, therefore, only a trick that they are using for deceiving the world generally and their public specifically into believing the ‘righteousness’ of the cause they are fighting for,” he furthermore states.

    It is an “open secret” that both Turkey and Saudi Arabia always opposed Assad’s rule in Syria. Therefore, the author writes, if direct military intervention ever takes place, it will certainly be directed against Assad’s forces rather than IS (Daesh) or any other Gulf-supported terrorist outfit.

    However, he adds, there is another reason for their engagement in the fight.

    “Saudi Arabia and Turkey seem to be preparing the plan to deliberately escalate the conflict in Syria as a means to put Iran into an uneasy geo-strategic position and thereby force it to re-direct its resources to fighting the war it cannot virtually afford to go astray; for, the survival of Syria as an ally of Iran in the Middle East is crucial for Iran’s standing as a regional power,” the expert explains.

    The loss of Syria would weaken Iran’s position in Lebanon, he adds, and thereby further “compromise its position vis-à-vis Israel as well as its “Sunni” rivals.

    The collapse of the Geneva talks has only provided the House of Saud and the ‘House of Erdogan’ with a supposedly ‘legitimate’ excuse to send troops to Syria to face off against Iran — a country they have been unable to defeat at the diplomatic level for a number of years already, Salman Rafi Sheikh explains.

    Iran’s return to the international community undermines Saudi Arabia’s aspirations for regional supremacy.

    “That said, it is not unthinkable that Saudi Arabia’s immediate decision to break off relations with Iran and prod their Arab and African allies into taking similar action was driven by their apprehension towards the economic and political re-emergence of Iran following the enforcement of the nuke-deal.”

    While Turkey may not feel so ‘alarmed’ at Iran’s re-emergence after years of isolation, it certainly is at odds with Tehran due to the latter’s full support for Assad and its own inability to carve Syria into different “zones” to shield itself against the prospects of a stronger and united Kurdish nation and its demand for an independent and sovereign Kurdistan.

    However, the expert warns that any direct intervention into the country without the authorization of Syria’s incumbent government will be a “recipe for disaster” as it will greatly transform the Syrian ‘civil war’ into a much wider regional conflagration.


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