MESOP AFTER GENEVA – TOP OF THE AGENDA : Saudi Arabia to Send Ground Troops to Syria


Saudi Arabia offered for the first time to send ground troops to Syria to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Saudi officials said they planned to send thousands of special forces (Guardian), and likely in coordination with Turkey. The Saudi offer is expected to be discussed when the United States convenes a meeting of defense ministers from coalition countries in Brussels next week (Al Jazeera). The kingdom was one of the first Arab countries to join the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition and mounted several air strikes (Al-Arabiya) on targets in Syria; those diminished last March, when it launched its intervention in Yemen.


“Fear drives Saudi Arabia’s new militancy. Part of its challenge is domestic. The extremist terror epitomized by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ISIS has its roots in Saudi Arabia. That terror, inevitably, has begun erupting inside the kingdom itself. Yet because the regime relies for its legitimacy on the blessing of militant clerics, any crackdown can be only half-hearted,” writes Stephen Kinzer for the Boston Globe.

“It is not required that the US send fighters on the ground. This is not what we want. What we want is for Assad to be prevented from targeting civilians and for the [supporters] of the Syrian revolution [i.e. Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia] to be allowed to provide rebels with qualitative weapons. The US supports the Syrian Democratic Forces, which include al-Sanadid Army, one of the regime’s militias,” says FSA legal advisor Osama Abu Zeid, to Al-Monitor.

“Mr. Carter will hold a meeting next month in Brussels with the 27 countries that have participated in the military efforts to defeat the Islamic State. Among those countries that have been invited to the meetings are several Arab ones that had initially participated in the campaign but have since contributed little. Mr. Carter has singled them out, saying that it is time for them to become more involved,” write Michael Schmidt and Helene Cooper for the New York Times.