"Proxy" War No More: Qatar Threatens Military
Intervention In Syria Alongside "Saudi, Turkish Brothers"
By Tyler Durden
October 22, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - Earlier this week, Saudi
foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir
had the following message for Tehran:
"We wish that Iran would change its
policies and stop meddling in the affairs of other countries in
the region, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. We will make sure
that we confront Iran's actions and shall use all our political,
economic and military powers to defend our territory and
In short, Riyadh and its allies in Doha and the
UAE are uneasy about the fact that the P5+1 nuclear deal is set to
effectively remove Iran from the pariah state list just as Tehran is
expanding its regional influence via its
Shiite militias in Iraq, the ground operation in Syria, and
through the Houthis in Yemen.
Thanks to the fact that Tehran has more of an
arm’s length relationship with the Houthis than it does with
Hezbollah and its proxy armies in Iraq, the Saudis have been able to
effectively counter anti-Hadi forces in Yemen without risking a
direct conflict with Iran, but make no mistake, Sana’a is not the
prize here. Yemen is a side show. The real fight is for the
political future of Syria and for control of Iraq once the US
finally packs up and leaves for good. Iran is winning on both of
Over the last several weeks, we and others have
suggested that one should not simply expect Washington, Riyadh,
Ankara, and Doha to go gently into that good night in Syria after
years of providing support for the various Sunni extremist groups
fighting to destabilize the regime. There’s just too much at stake.
As noted on Tuesday, Assad's ouster would have
removed a key Iranian ally and cut off Tehran from Hezbollah. Not
only would that outcome pave the way for deals like the Qatar-Turkey
natural gas line, it would also cement Sunni control over the region
on the way to dissuading Tehran at a time when the lifting of
crippling economic sanctions is set to allow the Iranians to shed
the pariah state label and return to the international stage not
only in terms of energy exports, but in terms of diplomacy as well.
Just about the last thing Riyadh wants to see ahead of Iran's
resurgence, is a powergrab on the doorstep of the Arabian
Thanks to Washington’s schizophrenic foreign
policy, there’s no effective way to counter Iran in Iraq but as
Mustafa Alani, the Dubai-based director of National Security and
Terrorism Studies at the Gulf Research Center told Bloomberg earlier
this week, “The regional powers can
give the Russians limited time to see if their intervention can lead
to a political settlement -- if not, there is going to be a proxy
That’s not entirely accurate. There’s already
a proxy war and the dangerous thing about it is that thanks to
the fact that Iran is now overtly orchestrating the ground
operation, one side of the “SAA vs. rebels” proxy label has been
removed. Now it’s “Iran-Russia vs. rebels” which means we’re just
one degree of separation away from a direct confrontation between
NATO’s regional allies in Riyadh and Doha and the Russia-Iran
Bloomberg with more on the Saudi’s predicament:
Powerful Saudi clerics are calling for a
response to the Russian move, even though the kingdom is already
bogged down in another war in Yemen. Analysts say the
Saudi government will probably speed up the flow of cash and
weapons to its allies in the opposition fighting to topple
President Bashar al-Assad, who’s also supported by Saudi
Arabia’s main rival, Iran.
While the Saudis may seek to direct their
aid to “moderate forces” in Syria, “the definition of this word
is subject to much debate,” said Theodore Karasik, a Dubai-based
political analyst. Sending arms
“is dangerous in the medium term because of how easily weapons
can fall into the wrong hands,” he said.
And let’s not kid ourselves, there are no “wrong
hands” as far as Riyadh and Doha are concerned. Sure, they’d rather
not have ISIS running around inside their borders blowing up mosques
but then again, those bombings simply provide more political cover
for justifying an air campaign in Syria. Back to Bloomberg:
Extremist groups already hold sway over
large parts of the country. The Saudis joined U.S.-led
operations against Islamic State last year, and since then
jihadist attacks in the kingdom have increased, many of them
targeting minority Shiite Muslims in the oil-rich eastern
province. Meanwhile, Assad accuses the Saudis and other
Gulf states of arming rebel groups with ties to al-Qaeda.
Some Saudi thinkers advocate direct
military engagement in Syria, just as the kingdom has done in
Yemen. Nawaf Obaid, a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is one of
“The Saudis are going to be forced
to lead a coalition of nations in an air campaign against the
remnants of Syrian forces, Hezbollah and Iranian fighters to
facilitate the collapse of the Assad regime and assist the entry
of rebel forces into Damascus,”
Obaid wrote in an opinion piece published by CNN on Oct. 4.
And while some still see that outcome as far
fetched not only because the Saudis are stretched thin thanks to
falling crude prices and the war in Yemen, but because it would be
an extraordinarily dangerous escalation, it looks as though Qatar is
leaning in a similar direction. Here’s
Qatar who has been a major sponsor of
jihadist groups fighting in Syria for years, now is actively
considering a direct military intervention in the country,
according to its officials.
Throughout Syria’s bloody civil
war, the government of Qatar has been an active supporter of
anti-government militants, providing arms and financial backing
to so called "rebels." Many of these, like the al-Nusra Front,
were directly linked to al-Qaeda.
That strategy has, of course, done little to put a dent in
terrorist organizations in the region.
But as Russia enters its fourth week of
anti-terror airstrikes, Qatar has indicated that it may launch a
military campaign of its own.
"Anything that protects the Syrian
people and Syria from partition, we will not spare any effort to
carry it out with our Saudi and Turkish brothers, no matter what
this is," Qatar’s Foreign
Minister Khalid al-Attiyah told CNN on Wednesday, when asked if
he supported Saudi Arabia’s position of not ruling out a
"If a military intervention will
protect the Syrian people from the brutality of the regime, we
will do it," he added, according to Qatar’s state news agency
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal
Mekdad was fast to warn the Middle Eastern monarchy that such a
move would be a disastrous mistake with serious consequences.
"If Qatar carries out its threat to
militarily intervene in Syria, then we will consider this a
direct aggression," he said, according to al-Mayadeen
television. "Our response will be very harsh."
Let's just be clear. If Saudi Arabia and Qatar
start bombing Iranian forces from the airspace near Russia's base at
Latakia, this will spiral out of control.
Iran simply wouldn't stand for it and if you think
for a second that Moscow is going to let Saudi Arabia fly around in
Western Syria and bomb the Iranians, you'll be in for a big
surprise. Of course the first time a Russian jet shoots down a Saudi
warplane over Syria, Washington will have no choice but to go to
Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out the
absurdity in what's being suggested here. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are
essentially saying that they may be willing to go to war with Russia
and Iran on behalf of al-Qaeda if it means facilitating Assad's
ouster. The Western world's conception of "good guys"/ "bad guys"
has officially been turned on its head.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s public
approval rating has reached a record 89.9 percent since he
ordered his military to begin air strikes in support of Syrian
leader Bashar al-Assad, according to a state-run polling center.
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