Turkey and Saudi Arabia are reportedly in high-level talks aimed at establishing a military alliance with the purpose of intervening in Syria and attempting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
As part of the plot, Turkey would provide ground troops backed by Saudi airstrikes in a bid to assist “moderate Syrian opposition” forces against government forces, US-based news outlet Huffington Post reported on Sunday, citing “sources familiar with the discussions.”
The talks were brokered by Qatar with the knowledge of Washington, the report noted.
US President Barack Obama was informed about the talks in February during a visit to the White House by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, the report quoted the sources as saying. It added, however, that the White House press office has declined to comment on the issue.
If the talks between Turkey and Saudi Arabia proceed successfully, their intervention in Syria would go forward whether or not the US offered support, said one source involved in the talks.
Following the February meeting at the White House, Obama said that the two heads of state had "shared ideas" on how to oust President Assad.
“How we get there obviously is a source of extraordinary challenge, and we shared ideas in terms of how that can be accomplished,” Obama added, vowing to continue supporting “the moderate opposition” in Syria.
According to the report, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken a number of steps to suggest that he is “preparing to deploy ground troops to Syria,” while Saudi Arabia “demonstrated its willingness to intervene militarily in the region” by leading a coalition of Arab allies in waging a war against neighboring Yemen.
Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen in a bid to restore power to fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
The report further points out that while the US did not directly participate in the Saudi military aggression against Yemen, “American officials said the US provided logistical and intelligence support to the mission.”
It also refers to Erdogan’s latest meeting in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia's King Salman, adding that during the visit the Turkish president signed a defense deal with Qatar “to facilitate intelligence sharing, military cooperation, and possible deployment of Turkish and Qatari troops in one another's countries.”
Pointing to the Saudi-led military moves against fellow Arab states in the region, the Huffington Post then underlined that “Saudi Arabia, along with Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, refrained from publicly criticizing Israel's airstrikes and eventual [military] invasion of Gaza [in July 2014].”
It further pointed out that Egypt drafted a ceasefire proposal following the Israeli onslaught on the Palestinian enclave in August 2014, which “many believed was conspicuously favorable to Israel and failed to address [Palestinian resistance group] Hamas’s key demand -- that Israel lift the blockade of Gaza it imposed in 2007.”
It added that Saudi Arabia threw its support behind the pro-Israeli Egyptian proposal.