Strategic Alliance of Saudi Arabia and Turkey

By M. Tahir Khan.

Turkey has agreed to join hands with Saudi Arabia to launch a ground offensive against ISIS in Syria.

Iran + P5 agreement and Russian air strikes in Syria targeting the opponents of Bashar ul Asad forced Saudi Arabia and allies to rethink their policies in the region. Russian military’s heavy bombardment and continuous support strengthened Barshar ul Asad regime, however Saudi and Western plan to topple Assad regime looks difficult at the moment.

Saudi government decided to revamp their policies and as a first step to revamp its policies Saudi government announced to form joint coalition of 34 Muslim nations to fight terrorism in the region, but there was no mention of ISIS in the announcement, whereas ISIS was considered as a largest threat to the instability of the region. Saudi Arabi’s regional rival Iran, Iraq and Syria were not included in the coalition of 34 countries. The coalition was announced by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman on 16th December, 2015.

In mid-January, 2016 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) notified that Iran has fulfilled all requirements of agreement, resulting in nuclear sanctions against Iran removed, Iran celebrated greatest victory and as result Iran is open for the rest of the world. All European Union and United Nations sanctions were removed, world open for Tehran, however confrontation with regional rival remained intact on many fronts starting from Saudi Operation in Yemen. Further crisis created after execution of Nimr al Nimar and then Saudi stance on Syria are main causes of conflicts.

Saudi Arabia remains sticked to their stance on Syria that was main bone of contention between both countries and KSA want removal of Bashar ul Asad regime at all costs. Furthermore, the new edition into Syrian crisis is the direct involvement of Turkey which recently joined hands with Saudia Arabia and started to threaten to send ground troops in Syria to fight against ISIS. Saudi announcement to send troops to Syria will anger all regional rivals including Iran, Syria, Iraq and also Russia who is using military might against all rebels.

Turkey has agreed to join hands with Saudi Arabia to launch a ground offensive against ISIS in Syria as announced by Turkish Foreign Minister. Riyadh-Ankara plans further added fuel to the overall situation where Russia is already using its force against rebels. Turkey is already in direct conflict with Russia over the drowning of Russian plane, and Turkey has already objections on Russian role in protecting Turkey’s Kurdish enemy to seize more areas. Russia’s close association with Syria’s Kurdish forces (Kurdish People’s Protection Unit) is a great matter of concern for Turkey and would force them to take severe steps, and we can also see that it is happening now. With the support of Russia’s severe bombing Kurdish forces are capturing major areas close to Turkish border.

A Turkish soldier stands guard while smoke rises in the Syrian town of Kobani as it is seen from the Turkish border town of Suruc

Riyadh – Ankara started joint military exercises in Turkey.

Gains of Syrian Kurdish forces prompted Turkey to rethink their policy and gains of Bashar ul Asad directed the plans of Saudi Arabia, in result an alliance between Riyadh – Ankara created. Saudi Arabi has clarified its intentions in recent days by their actions, firstly, by starting military exercise of 20 nations with name of “Thunder of North”, 2ndly by sending Saudi troops and fighter planes to Turkey for joint exercise to prepare for ground operations in Syria against ISIS. Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif has warned Saudi Arabia not to send ground troops in Syria and further stated that it will be violation of International laws.

Turkey has their own intentions in joining Saudi alliance to send ground troops in Syria, Turkey want to handle Kurdish forces who took responsibility for many terror activities in Turkey in recent months.

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu blamed Syrian Kurdish forces for Yesterday’s Ankara blast that left 28 people killed and 61 wounded by a car bomb targeting Turkish military.

Situation would be further deteriorated  if Saudi and Turkish forces will send ground forces and Turkey will start hitting the Kurdish militia being supported by Russian airstrikes.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev while giving interview to a German Magazine warned that if troops sent inside Syria, it could start world war. He further stated its upto to US and Arabs to consider whether they want a permanent war or not.

Saudi Arabia and Turkish coalition, if carried forward would end up with horrible results for Middle East and the rest of the world. However, there is need of restraint from all stake holders to further escalate the situation, long term resolutions required to come out of this bloody war of years.

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