A secret meeting held in a Gulf capital last month and attended by Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt designated Turkey as a “major threat” in the region, according to media reports.
According to a new report by London-based Middle East Eye, officials from the four countries in attendance agreed at the meeting that Turkey, rather than Iran, is their “major military rival in the region, and discussed plans to counter Ankara’s influence.”
During the meeting, Israeli officials pointed “that Iran could be contained militarily”, but that Turkey had “a far greater capability,” according to the report.
Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen is reported to have said at the meeting: “Iranian power is fragile. The real threat comes from Turkey."
Measures were agreed upon during the meeting to “counter Turkey’s threat,” one of which included support for Syria’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists to curb Turkey’s attempts to clear YPG terrorists “from the Turkish border right up to the Iraqi border.”
The intelligence officials also agreed to strengthen relations with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and prevent any reconciliation with Ankara since the semi-autonomous region’s failed independence referendum in 2017.
Officials from the convened countries also agreed to hatch a plan to rehabilitate embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, discussing a diplomatic initiative to restore full diplomatic relations between the three Arab states and Assad, with Tel Aviv’s help.
The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus in December, marking a diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad from a U.S.-allied Arab state that once backed opposition members fighting him.
"The Saudis themselves do not want to be in the vanguard of this diplomatic push to court Assad. However they agree with the policy of attempting to lever Assad to weaken Turkey," an official cited by the MEE report said.
PKK, Assad bargaining over Syria gains momentum amid US pullout decision
Talks over the future of Syria between the Assad regime and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists have gained momentum in recent days after the U.S. announced it was withdrawing its troops from the country’s northeastern regions. A Syrian regime delegation spearheaded by Assad’s intelligence chief Ali Mamluk arrived in Raqqa on Sunday and met with senior PKK terrorists Ilham Ahmad, Elder Halil and Sipan Hamo. During the meeting attended by a senior Russian lieutenant, the two sides discussed the PKK handing over control of the region the Assad regime.Mamluk pointed that the Syrian regime is ready to deploy its forces in the region extending from Manbij to the Jarabulus border. Some of the requests made by the Assad regime included PKK terrorists handing over all their weapons to Damascus and that men of age in PKK-occupied areas will be conscripted in the regime’s army. In exchange for the above, the regime offered senior administrative positions to high-ranking PKK terrorists following the hand-over. The Assad delegation also vowed to start sending forces to Ayn al-Arab, Ayn Issa and Ras al-Ayn in the case that PKK terrorists agree to the regime’s conditions.A possible mission east of the Euphrates, which Turkey’s leadership has been suggesting for months, would follow two successful cross-border Turkish operations into Syria since 2016 – Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch – both meant to eradicate the presence of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders. Requests made by PKK terrorists at the meeting included recognition for a Qamishli-based “autonomous region,” and citizenship rights for PKK terrorists from Iran, Iraq and Turkey. However, PKK terrorists asked to keep control over Syria’s oil and natural gas reserves in the province of Hasakah. Mamluk vowed during the eight-hour meeting to guarantee gains for the PKK in Syria’s new constitution in exchange for terrorists agreeing to Damascus’s demands.Russia, for its part, promised it will be able to convince Turkey to hand over regions controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to the regime.PKK/PYD terror ties make US leaving Syria harder: FM ÇavuşoğluTurkey is Kurds' 'only friend': Ruling party spokesmanTurkey calls on US to fulfill Manbij, Syria roadmap
Saudi refuses to confirm whereabouts of bin Salman’s right-hand man tied to Khashoggi murder
Authorities of Saudi Arabia are refusing to confirm the whereabouts of Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman who is suspected of being involved in the murder of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post reported.Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post journalist from Saudi Arabia who had become a critic of the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.Qahtani had been sacked due to the rhetoric toward the kingdom’s critics that led to Khashoggi’s death, according to a Saudi official.After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation.In October two separate intelligence sources said that Qahtani gave orders over Skype to Khashoggi's killers at the consulate. More recently, a government source familiar with the matter said Qahtani featured prominently throughout the recordings.The Istanbul prosecutor's office has concluded there is "strong suspicion" that Saud al-Qahtani was among the planners of Khashoggi's Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, officials said.“The ouster of the previous crown prince, the detentions of royals and businessmen in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, the kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister, and the kingdom’s diplomatic spats with Qatar and Canada,” were all headed Qahtani, a New York times article titled “Behind a Saudi Prince’s Rise, Two Loyal Enforcers,” states.U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the crown prince ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi, whose body was dismembered and removed from the building to a location still publicly unknown. Top Turkish officials have also tied his death to the highest levels of Saudi leadership.Saudi officials have denied accusations that the prince ordered the murder.A Saudi court last week held its first hearing on Khashoggi's case in which Saudi Arabian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects in the case. The United Nations human rights office on Friday called the trial "not sufficient."
US to give Syria role to Saudi in bid to whitewash Khashoggi murder
The United States is attempting to whitewash the murder of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi by giving Saudi Arabia a bigger role in Syria.Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post journalist from Saudi Arabia who had become a critic of the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged that he was killed inside the consulate building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation.With the details of the U.S.’s withdrawal from Syria still ambiguous, Ankara is closely following the fact that Saudi Arabia, along with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are trying to assume a role in the process and aftermath.President Trump said last month he was bringing home some 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, declaring that the U.S. had succeeded in its mission to defeat Daesh and that Turkey would take over the final stages of the military campaign.The U.S., who counts Saudi Arabia as its biggest arms client, wants to increase Riyadh’s influence on the ground in an attempt to repair the Kingdom’s tarnished image after it came under international fire following Khashoggi’s murder.To this end, the U.S. is planning to appoint Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is going to launch the process in Egypt, which he is expected to visit soon, according to reports.He is set to make a speech lauding Riyadh’s handling of the Khashoggi case and stress that Saudi forces should be present in Syria.U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the crown prince ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi, whose body was dismembered and removed from the building to a location still publicly unknown. Top Turkish officials have also tied his death to the highest levels of Saudi leadership.Saudi officials have denied accusations that the prince ordered the murder.A Saudi court last week held its first hearing on Khashoggi's case in which Saudi Arabian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects in the case. The United Nations human rights office on Friday called the trial "not sufficient."Mike Pompeo will also seek an update to Saudi Arabia's investigation into the October killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he visits Riyadh during a trip to the Middle East next week, the State Department said on Friday.‘Saudi, UAE assisted Assad in detecting, killing Syrian opposition leaders’Pompeo to visit Riyadh to seek update on Khashoggi murder probeAre they planning on starting a war between Turkey and Arab states? According to Turkish sources on the ground in Syria, there has recently been a vast increase in activity from Egyptian, Emirati and Saudi elements. A possible mission east of the Euphrates, which Turkey’s leadership has been suggesting for months, would follow two successful cross-border Turkish operations into Syria since 2016 – Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch – both meant to eradicate the presence of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.Even if the U.S. does withdraw its forces, it may be seeking to cause conflict between Turkey and these countries’ forces in Syria.Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.UN rights office says Saudi trial in Khashoggi case 'not sufficient'Saudi prosecutor will seek death penalties in Khashoggi case'After Khashoggi, Saudi's reputation on human rights at all time low'