Syria Feature: Confusion over “Saudi-Turkish Joint Drills”


PHOTO: Turkish tanks on the Syrian border, October 2014

Amid consideration by both Turkey and Saudi Arabia of their next steps in Syria’s five-year conflict, there is confusion on Friday over claims of “joint military drills”.

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said sources had confirmed the exercises “as part of a decision to strategically cooperate against common threats”. However, other military officials denied the planning in comments to the State-run Anadolu Agency.

With the shift of the US to support of Kurdish groups, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are the leading backers of Syria’s rebels, who are facing challenges from a regime-Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah offensive, Kurdish advances, and the Islamic State.

In December, Saudi Arabia accompanied its backing of an opposition-rebel bloc with the proclamation of an “Islamic coalition” to develop forces to face regional threats. However, the declaration has yet to produce any outcomes.

The claim of Turkish-Saudi drills follow a recent visit by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Saudi Arabia. Hurriyet’s military sources said the trip was not focused on the US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Syria, but on other areas of “mutual ties” in political and military affairs.

The sources distanced themselves from the Saudi effort for a multilateral coalition. “The togetherness that is being mentioned cannot actually be called an ‘Islam army’. Even if there is such an initiative, Turkey will not be a part of its military branch,” said a senior Turkish official.

The unnamed sources set out two concerns about any intervention with ground forces. The first is the lack of preparations buy the US, “as it knows a United Nations decision cannot be met” due to Russia’s backing of the Assad regime. The second is that the Turkish army will not cross the Syrian border without a UN Security Council resolution.

An official later said that a visit by Turkish military commanders to Saudi Arabia was merely for “the common aim… for the two countries’ militaries to put forth a joint stance in responding to regional problems”.

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      But hey!, kurds are using russian air force support that have killed waaaay more inocent people that JN but you seem no to have any problems with that ain’t that right?.

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