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The Syrian Civil War
Saudi Arabia Dispatches Fighter Jets to Turkey

Following on the recent news about a Syrian ceasefire deal reached by the U.S, Russia, and other powers, Saudi Arabia is sending fighter planes and troops to join the anti-ISIS fight in Syria. The planes will stage out of neighboring Turkey, as the AFP reports:

The planes are to be stationed at the Incirlik base, which is already hosting US, British and French war planes taking part in the strikes against IS fighters in Syria.

Private NTV television said four Saudi F-15 jets would arrive at Incirlik on Friday. It said that 30 ground personnel and equipment had already arrived aboard C-130 Hercules military transport planes on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey have had an often-undisguised rivalry over the last half-decade for leadership of the Sunni world. However, the menace of the Syrian Civil War—and the failure of America, an ally to each, to intervene as expected—has drawn them closer together. In this case, though, that isn’t necessarily a good thing: It adds yet another strand to a complicated web of alliances and rivalries that criss-cross the Syrian Civil War. If, for instance, Turkey’s rivalry with Russia heats up, could Saudi Arabia now get drawn in?

This is a symptom of the lack of U.S. leadership, as Washington would traditionally have taken the lead in providing security to both countries. Furthermore, untested and under-prepared leaders have emerged in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere—making the possibility of a misjudgement in time of crisis more acute.

TAI Editor Adam Garfinkle recently diagnosed the situation Saudi Arabia and Turkey find themselves in—one that may give context to the latest Saudi move:

All U.S.-aligned Sunni states are in near panic as a result of American self-deterrence. The wriggling about of the Saudi government, one day seeming to resolve to send troops into Syria, the next backing off when the intended diplomatic tripwire fails to ensnare the Americans, is one case in point. The Turks are in an even deeper pickle. They desperately need to staunch the refugee flow from the south, but the Obama Administration refuses the idea of a humanitarian zone on the Syrian side of the border. If the Turks try to create that zone by themselves, and get into a fight over it with the Russians, they have no expectation now that the United States will have Turkey’s back. That completely deflates the credibility of Turkish threats, and everyone knows it: Erdogan cannot do anything. He can’t even turn to ISIS for help, because ISIS and a variety of Kurdish groups are now busy setting off bombs inside Turkey.

Even if—perhaps especially if—the Saudis are just trying to lay another tripwire by sending this planes, the move is therefore disturbing. It’s as easy to start a wider war by accident as by design and America is tolerating a lot of tripwires that are being laid around the regional dynamite keg right now.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    “backing off when the intended diplomatic tripwire fails to ensnare the Americans”

    That’s quite a phrase. Are we figuring out how not to be ensnared?

  • rheddles

    This is a symptom of the lack of U.S. leadership, as Washington would traditionally have taken the lead in providing security to both countries. Furthermore, untested and under-prepared leaders have emerged in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere—making the possibility of a misjudgement in time of crisis more acute.

    True, but if the US had taken the lead, they’d be happy to let us carry the burden. Whenever we left them to shoulder the burden we would be faced with the same situation we have now. The fact of the matter is we have only one ally, Israel, and one potential ally, Kurdistan in the neighborhood. Aside from that they are all vipers. Let Putin keep the peace. He’ll probably do better than we and it will bleed him. We had a shot if we’d stayed in Iraq, but Baraq decided to leave, destroy Libya on the way out, and now we’ve got the inevitable mess. No point in being drawn in again. Thanks to Divine Providence and fracking.

    • GS

      “and now we’ve got the inevitable mess.” – it is not “we” who got the inevitable mess. It is their mess, not ours.

      • rheddles

        More artfully said.

  • CapitalHawk

    This just in from year 2 of the Muslim 30 Years War: Fighting Continues. America still not fighting on behalf of either side. Americans happy with this situation. Rest of World not.

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