Saudis 'prepare to fight in Syria'

Saudi Arabia's recent claim that it is preparing to send ground troops into Syria is either a transparent (and therefore ineffective) piece of psychological warfare or the latest step towards the collapse of the House of Saud.

In an article for the American website, National Interest, headed "Saudi Arabia's master plan against ISIS, Assad and Iran in Syria", Nawaf Obaid says a Saudi-led invasion of Syria will be aimed at removing not only ISIS but the Assad regime and Iranian-backed militias too.

As described by Obaid, the plan sounds preposterous but since Obaid is a regular propagandist for the Saudi regime we can assume it reflects at least one strand of military thinking in Riyadh (if "thinking" is the right word for it). Outlining the preparations so far, Obaid writes:

"The joint training exercises being carried out by the Saudis and their allies involve as many as 150,000 deployed troops from 20 countries based at the sprawling Hafr Al Batin Military City in the north of the Kingdom on its border with Iraq. Most of the ground troops are from Saudi Arabia’s armed forces, with the majority having been deployed from the Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) and Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). 

"These troops are joined by specialised forces from the armies of Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, Morocco, UAE, Sudan and Jordan. In addition, troops from Senegal, Tunisia, Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, Mauritius, Maldives, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Chad and Oman committed personnel to the joint exercises. From the East, Indonesia, and Brunei (alongside Malaysia) have formed a joint coordinating committee with the Saudis. 

"Finally, the Saudis and Turks recently set up a coordination committee for military affairs to plan future large-scale operations into Syria via the Turkish border, and in laying the groundwork for such an eventuality, the first batch of a squadron of Saudi F-15s will soon arrive at the Turkish Incerlik airbase."

Since Saudi Arabia is already at war in Yemen, invading Syria would open up a second front in the north and in his effort to persuade readers that this is a viable course, Obaid says it is "based on the Schlieffen Plan, Imperial Germany’s pre-World War I strategy for conducting war on two fronts".

In fact, the Schlieffen Plan, which envisaged Germany fighting France and Russia simultaneously – and winning – was one of the great military miscalculations of the last century. However, Obaid is confident that the Saudis will be able to avoid the mistakes made by Germany, especially now that the war in Yemen is "progressing soundly".

Pull the other one, please.
Posted by Brian Whitaker
Wednesday, 17 February 2016