The power awakens: Is the Riyadh coalition rival to the US coalition? - NEDRET ERSANEL

The power awakens: Is the Riyadh coalition rival to the US coalition?

There is benefit in noting some of the transparent points of the “Islamic Power/Coalition” consisting of 34 Muslim countries under the leadership of Saudi Arabia…

The sudden announcement of alliance (joint declaration) made personally by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman surprised everybody. (The alliance Riyadh formed aimed at Yemen was also built/announced in a short time.) The goal was stated in the region as well: Fighting terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

The “solution partners” for the alliance were shown as “big powers and international organizations” – particularly for Syria and Iraq. Hence, two separate gigantic-volume coalitions started to work simultaneously in relation to Daesh, for whose power there are 1,001 myths going around.

However, it was revealed that some of the countries stated in the alliance were not aware of this coalition they were participating in. For example, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aiazaz Ahmad Chaudry, described the situation as a “surprise” and couldn't hide his confusion. ('Pakistan 'was not told' of inclusion in Saudi anti-terror coalition', 16/12, International Business Times.) However, this does not mean that Islamabad is against this coalition. They want to meet with Riyadh to have a better view of the balances.

Any military alliance with Pakistan is important. Islamabad is one of the strongest military powers in the region and also has nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, it is not easy for it to accept being on the same platform as Afghanistan. While it sees the risk that Afghanistan is going to continue to create a breaking point in the short term, it looks at relations with Iran with sensitivity. This is because in certain critical areas of the region, China also has weight and the “Gwadar Port” in the Balochistan region open to all strategic meaning, is included in these plans. The renewed US military presence in Afghanistan and the China Silk Road requires separate plans. Surely, the “expectations” of Turkey with which it has an old friendship are likewise.


Malaysia displayed a more open attitude. It said openly, through its defense minister, that it ruled out any involvement in the operations, but said, “we support the coalition and the fight against militants.” (Dec. 17, BBC)

What became immediately noticeable in the second alliance that raised a flag to Daesh and “all similar organizations,” was the clear exclusion of Iraq-Iran-Syria by the Shiite axis. The primary reason is the known rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is claimed that Saudi Arabia “won no victory” in the Yemen war and that this new display could be considered a camouflage. However, it is not unheard of that the US never wanted the Yemen war and constantly pushed against Riyadh concerning the matter.

The announcement being made during US Secretary of State John Kerry's Moscow visit might be considered as bringing attention to the point that a Syrian “consensus” has reached. This requires some consideration, because this consensus will defer “depending on the angle,” it is very important the kind of consensus the US and Russia reach concerning “Assad's existence.” If during this visit Kerry gave the green light to “a Russian suggestion including Assad,” which can be decided in the third round of Vienna Talks continuing at the time of writing in New York… ('Assad can stay, for now: Kerry accepts Russian stance,' 15/12, AP.) It could be assumed that Riyadh has already started to dig a position against this situation.

Look at what the US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is saying: “We are looking forward to learning more about what is on Saudi Arabia's mind in announcing this coalition.” Whereas Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said: “It is the best response to those trying to associate terrorism with Islam.” (Dec. 16, The Washington Times.)

Could the US be unaware of the Riyadh coalition? Is this possible? The Washington Post (Dec. 16) asked the question by “blocking” the answer; “Both Washington and Riyadh emphasized that the new alliance is not aiming to replace the US-led coalition.”


We need to total the two contradictions: Saudi foreign policy, which, with King Salman's coming to power, no longer sees the US as the point of bearing and whether the Riyadh-based coalition is pursuing the same goals as the US-led coalition with the same strategic expectations.

The complications of this may not be apparent. For instance, the news of a Saudi embassy opening in Baghdad after 25 years was more or less heard, but Saudi Arabia's desire to open a consulate in Irbil should also be known. So then shouldn't Turkey's Mosul step be translated into different languages?

Iran's influence in this country became apparent once Turkey renewed its troops that have been present near Mosul for years for training purposes. Baghdad raised its voice. It is obvious that Tehran and Moscow roughly pushed Baghdad toward us. During US Defense Secretary Carter's Baghdad visit, a blurred American warning was also heard in Ankara.

Are we going to disregard the US and UK telling Ankara, “Remove your troops”?

Turkey supported the “Islamic Power” alliance against all terrorists. If this alliance is against the alliance of certain rivals in the region, then it has set foot on the opposite seat of the teeter-totter.

This must have a projection in Iraq, in – who knows – some regions of Iraq. We will understand when it happens.


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