Turkey’s recent actions, including giving Saudi Arabia use of its Incirlik air base to launch attacks on Syrian territory, proves they feel threatened by the progress of the Syrian Army, says Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

RT: Turkey has been shelling Syrian territory for two days now. Can things escalate?

Abayomi Azikiwe: I think it is a part of an overall escalation of the conflict in Syria. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) rebels as well as other Islamic extremist organizations have been encircled around Aleppo and other areas leading towards the border with Turkey. Saudi Arabia has let it be well known what its position is by deploying its own air force, fighter jets to the Incirlik air base in Turkey. They have also expressed a willingness to deploy ground troops inside of Syria itself.

The real settlement of this situation is going to take place on the ground between the contending forces, and what happens in Geneva is very much a secondary consideration. – Associate professor of Middle Eastern history, Jeremy Salt, in interview with RT.

So we already have considerable evidence that Turkey is assisting Islamic State and other terrorist organizations to put pressure on the government of President Bashar al-Assad. At the same time, with previous allegations that Saudi Arabia is one of the main financiers and logistical supporters to IS and other terrorist organizations, this clearly shows that they feel very threatened by recent developments in Syria, as far as the Syrian Army is concerned, as well as the air campaign from the Russian Federation.

RT: Is Ankara acting on its own here?

AA: Not at all. It is clearly being done in coalition with the United States and US foreign policy. In fact, the Saudi Arabian government indicated clearly over the weekend that any deployment of ground troops inside Syria will be part and parcel of a US strategy aimed at toppling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. These are very, very dangerous indications, because Iran has also responded. Brigadier General [Ahmed] Asseri indicated as well [yesterday] that they would not look upon it favorably if Saudi Arabia deployed ground troops in Syria. There has been an escalation of tension between Teheran and Riyadh over the last several months.

RT: Turkish artillery shelling has actually had little impact on the situation on the ground as both Kurdish and pro-government troops continue to advance.  So why would Turkey even bother?

AA: Obviously, there are two different sides of this ongoing conflict. Turkey has demonstrated its willingness to assist US foreign policy; they are part of NATO trying to topple the government in Damascus. The Kurdish question inside of Turkey is one that it is a threat to the hegemony of the Turkish government of President [Recep] Erdogan. This conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish government is taking on more deadly as well as broader military as well as political dimensions.

Turkey said very often that it is directing its attacks in Syria against Islamic State, but it would seem it is more determined to stop the Kurds from creating a contiguous enclave along the Turkish border, Associate professor of Middle Eastern history, Jeremy Salt, in comments to RT.

These different forces that are operating both in support of the Syrian government, as well as in opposition to it, are beginning to intensify their positions. This is taking place despite the fact that the Munich security conference sideline talks, which ostensibly came up with some a type of ceasefire agreement, or at least a pause in hostilities, is not going to be implemented. Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov indicated this earlier by saying that it had less than a 50 percent chance of success.


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