There has been a large amount of talk in recent days about the possibility of Saudi intervention in Syria, now however Turkey seems to also want to join in on the action. Within the last few hours, key developments in southern Turkey have shown the war in Syria could be about to transform into a full scale international conflict.
The most important of these developments is the announcement by Turkey that it could conduct a joint operation in Syria with Saudi Arabia. According to AFP, the Turkish Vice Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that should there be a strategy, “ground operations” were possible. Such comments, made at the Munich Security Conference, come just hours after the announcement by the Saudi Ministry of Defense that it would be deploying warplanes to the Incirlik Airbase in southern Turkey. Turkish officials have also confirmed that these planes would be used in an anti-ISIS role, as opposed to simply for training.
Adding more weight to the possibility of a joint Turkish-Saudi intervention in Syria, is a rather blunt statement by Turkey’s PM Ahmet Davutoğlu. Yesterday, in response to a question about whether Turkey would take action to reopen the corridor to Aleppo he said “Wait for the next few days and you will have the answer” according to Hürriyet. Other signs of imminent escalation have also been reported including claims by rebel groups that they had received an ‘excellent amount’ of Grad missiles in the last few days – supplies which could preclude a counteroffensive.
While the size and aims of such an intervention so far remain unclear, the possibility clearly has Russia and the Assad regime worried. Last week theSyrian Foreign Minister warned that foreign troops intervening in Syria would “return home in wooden coffins”, and on Thursday this week Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev raised concerns of “another war in the world” should diplomatic solutions fail. Clearly how this intervention plays out will have a defining impact not just on Syria, but on the Middle East as a whole.