As previously reported on The WIDER View, Saudi and Turkish troops (possibly other Gulf states) could be making an entrance into Syria shortly. According to Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the 13 February 2016, Saudi troops and jets are deploying in Turkey ready for a possible combined intervention to tackle IS.
- The Independent article (13 Feb 2016) – Saudi Arabia sends troops and fighter jets to military base in Turkey ahead of intervention against Isis in Syria:
- The Washignton Post article (13 Feb 2016) – Turkey pledges to send ground forces to fight the Islamic State in Syria:
- The Guardian article (14 Feb 2016) – Syria: Turkey and Saudi Arabia consider ground campaign following border strikes:
Although IS is named as the principle reason for the proposed intervention, it is a clear possibility that they will look to assist opposition groups fighting Russian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi and Iranian forces. In recent days the assault in northern Aleppo by the Syrian Arab Army and associated militias has resulted in the capture of Nubl, Zahraa and its surrounding areas. This in turn has cut off the main supply route to opposition groups from Turkey.
If Turkey does enter Syria, it would mark a serious escalation bringing both Saudi Arabia and Turkey potentially into direct conflict with Syria, Russia and Iran. Should this scenario transpire and Turkish forces be attacked, NATO’s article 5 agreement would be invoked meaning that an attack on one nation is an attack on all.
This means that the US and other NATO allies would be obliged to join the conflict in defence of Turkey. In short, if Turkish and Saudi troops are deployed into Syria and are engaged in direct conflict with Syrian, Russian or Iranian forces, a large scale conflict is almost assured involving many countries around the world.
Turkish tanks have targeted Kurdish forces from its southern border over the last two days in response to alleged attacks on Turkish troops. The US has asked Turkey to stop targeting forces battling IS fighters, however, Turkey see’s the Kurds as terrorists and just as dangerous as IS.
An intervention by Turkish troops could also lead to attacks against Kurdish forces in an attempt to create a buffer zone and secure it’s border from Kurdish forces who have expanded their territorial footprint in both Syria and Iraq.
There are many conflicts of interest that run deep among all the players in Syria and many differences found within allied coalitions, not just opposing sides. This makes it even more difficult to predict what will happen next and even easier to make a miscalculation.
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