18:20 GMT +315 November 2019
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    A picture taken June 26, 2011 shows Saudi special forces graduates showing their skills during a ceremony held at their base near the capital Riyadh

    Why Turkish-Saudi Boots on the Ground in Syria Still Possible Despite Truce

    © AFP 2019 / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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    The bloody war in Syria was stopped by a ceasefire on February 27. However, chances are still slim all parties involved would reach an agreement and end the conflict.

    There is still a possibility that Turkey and Saudi Arabia will start a ground operation in Syria which could spark conformation with Russia, Czech media Echo24 wrote. Alarming allegations have again surfaced that Riyadh has a small nuclear arsenal, according to Lukáš Vising.

    The current ceasefire in Syria is first of all humanitarian and does not apply to terrorists like Daesh and other radical groups. Fighting is still underway, but to a lesser extent.

    The ceasefire was agreed right at the moment when a fierce battle was going to start for Aleppo, the last large Syrian city controlled by the so-called "moderate" opposition. If Aleppo had been liberated it would have finally split Syrian opposition forces and at the same time mark an important victory for Moscow and Tehran.

    The situation over Aleppo also involved Syrian Kurds from the Kurdish militia forces, which was a headache for Turkey, a sponsor of some Syrian opposition groups, the media wrote. Many other groups are backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies. They have invested a lot in toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad and are not ready to back away.

    What is at stake now is not only Syria but also the dominant role in the Middle East, and maybe in the entire Muslim world, according to Echo24.

    After the Arab Spring across the Middle East, some new political trends emerged. One of them was Washington’s push for a final nuclear deal with Iran. For traditional American allies in the Middle East this was a signal that the US is distancing itself from the region. Consequently, countries like Turkey or Saudi Arabia started to look to expand their roles in the Middle East.

    Claims that Riyadh could be a nuclear power have circulated since the late-1980s. At the time Saudi Arabia bought a shipment of Chinese-made DF-3A missiles, with a maximum operational range of 2,500 km. Later it was reported that Saudi Arabia obtained nuclear warheads because Riyadh funded Pakistan’s nuclear program.

    Nevertheless, those allegations are nothing but rumors despite very close ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, an article on the Czech website Echo24 read.

    Claims were made that the kingdom is ready to buy nuclear warheads from Pakistan if Iran becomes a nuclear power. In February 2016, Saudi political analyst Daham al-Anzi said in an interview with RT that Saudi Arabia has already acquired nuclear weapons. In his interview with Fox, a former CIA officer said Riyadh has four or seven nuclear bombs.

    However, no official statement has been made by Saudi Arabia.

    "This may be a bluff. But it also may be part of a strategy of nuclear non-transparency like Israel does. If Saudi Arabia really has nukes it would have very serious consequences," the article read.

    First of all, this would start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, including for Iran, Turkey and Egypt.
    What is more, the situation would be definitely ignored by Moscow.

    "In this scenario, Russia may deploy its tactical nuclear bombs to Syria, which would only escalate conflict to the point where there can be no winners," the author concluded.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    nuclear weapons, ceasefire, Aleppo, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia
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