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Saudi Arabia, Turkey prepare for ground invasion of Syria

Imperialist-backed aggression raises the threat of more war, destruction
By staff |
February 14, 2016
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Saudi forces are assembling in Turkey for a possible attack on Syria.

The U.S. and its Mideast regional partners are escalating their aggression against Syria, threatening to trigger broader war in the region and beyond.

On Feb. 11, Saudi Arabia announced that it would move troops, artillery and fighter jets to the Incirlik military base in southern Turkey. At Incirlik, Saudi forces join U.S. Air Force and Turkish Air Force troops, who jointly operate out of the base. According to the announcement, Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman alluded to a possible ground invasion of Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the possibility of a joint Saudi-Turkey invasion in an interview on Feb. 14. On the same day, the Syrian government confirmed that Turkish forces had begun shelling both civilian and military targets in northern Syria. According to the Syrian government, Turkey's shelling has targeted both Syrian Arab Army positions and Kurdish forces.

This aggressive move by Saudi Arabia provoked outrage from Russia and Iran, both supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's national democratic government. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev warned that a ground invasion of Syria could lead to “permanent war” and vowed to continue supporting the ongoing peace negotiations taking place in Munich. Similarly, Iran pledged to oppose any offensive measures against Syria. Iranian Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri said they “will take necessary actions in due time” to not “let the situation in Syria to go forward the way rebel countries [the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey] want.”

According to Saudi officials, an invasion of Syria would aim at toppling Assad - the main goal of the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey since the outbreak of war in Syria five years ago. They also identified the containment of the so called Islamic State (IS) insurgency, which controls some territory in Syria and Iraq, as an objective.

Despite its rhetoric, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey are not seriously interested in defeating IS or the other reactionary paramilitary groups fighting Assad. IS itself emerged from the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the free-flow of foreign arms to rebel forces in Syria. Instead, they hope to use the spread of IS as justification for direct military intervention against Assad. Speaking to this point, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said last week, “Unless and until there is a change in Syria, Daesh [Islamic State] will not be defeated in Syria, period.”

Saudi Arabia's military threats against Syria come at a time of crisis for the oil-rich monarchy, which is losing regional influence to the growing camp of resistance in the Middle East. In Yemen, Saudi forces launched a brutal assault on the country after the popularly supported Houthi insurgency overthrew the U.S.-Saudi puppet government. The survival of Assad's government in Syria after five years of fighting foreign-backed paramilitary forces also speaks to Saudi Arabia's diminishing power. Amid this crisis, Turkey's ruling class sees an opportunity to fulfill its own expansionist aims, with regime-change in Syria as its first priority.

Anti-war activists must closely watch the events in Syria and oppose any invasion of Syria either by the U.S. or its regional partners, like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.