The ‘Washington Post’ reports that the Russian Prime Minister has warned that other nations introducing ground troops into the Syrian conflict “would only exacerbate the conflict”. It certainly would and, even if the article tries to offer some solace by effectively stating that Dmitry Medvedev was falsely quoted and that the earlier reference to “a new world war” was apparently a mistranslation, trepidation should remain as to where this escalation might lead.
With reports that Saudi Arabia is sending aircraft and troops to Turkey ahead of a possible invasion it is obvious that they, while supposedly being sent to fight against Riyadh’s own creation ISIS, are being deployed solely to ensure that as, Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, states “there will be no Bashar al-Assad in the future.” Moreover, even if this force which includes a large mercenary contingent, is unlikely to have either the numbers or the motivation to achieve this aim against the battle-hardened troops they will face, there are other possible consequences we should be worried about.
Firstly, Saudi will be acting with Turkey and with the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying that Saudi Arabia is sending planes and “If the necessary time comes for a ground operation then we could send soldiers,” it could be that while Ankara is also using ISIS as pretext, unlike Saudi Arabia, Assad’s removal, even if it is desired, is not the priority. That remains the destruction of the Kurdish PYD.
Secondly, even if this goal is not shared by Washington, which continues to see the PYD as an ally in the fight against ISIS, there is evidence to suggest that the Americans are in the process of finding themselves between a rock and a hard place in Syria. They could try to restrain Ankara, but in doing so they will have to accept that the gains made by Damascus will not only be consolidated, but are also going to be added to. Moreover, if they do restrain the Turks, and for that matter the Saudis, there will be a price to pay.
Or, they could give Saudi Arabia and Turkey the green light, which, of course, could mean, unless Washington is to effectively lose control over what is happening, it is only a matter of time before we see American troops being deployed to the region.
That is the most frightening scenario and, because of it, the “mistranslation” of Medvedev’s warning, might almost be seen as an omen. Should Turkey invade Syria, there is a very real danger that this conflict will spread outside the region and, yes, it could lead to “a new world war”.