Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Hunger Games: what would a joint Turkish-Jordanian assault on Syria look like?

The rumors of a military strike on Syria have begun and those voices have only got louder in the last week. Informers in the Jordanian government say army generals have been training in Turkey for the past four weeks. Still the official Jordan government line is ‘nothing to see here.’ If it really happened - what would it look like? We run through the scenarios, from weapons of war to covert intelligence.
Saudi has already threatened Jordan with cutting off their aid money unless they provide military assistance to the FSA. Clearly they have the funds and they’re not afraid to use them to ensure another Sunni ally in the region. Qatar too has been happy to provide financial help for the rebels although not as aggressively as the desert Kingdom.
In our possible scenario, it looks like Saudi would provide the main source of money but channel it through the two neighbors: Jordan and Turkey.
The alliance would need a reliable source of information on the ground in Syria though and Saudi money wouldn’t be enough to guarantee this. Just this week, the BBC reported that Turkey was training Syrian female spies for the FSA and sending them to Aleppo.
But Turkey does not have a long and illustrious history of information gathering in the way that the UK or US do. The former is denying any such assistance but reports have leaked out that CIA agents are very much involved just over the border in Eastern Turkey.
For a successful assault, our potential Turkish-Jordanian alliance would need the CIA to move their network of spies into the key cities - Aleppo, Damascus and Homs - and stay there, at least until the bombs started landing.

The two neighbors - Jordan and Turkey - both come at the conflict from very different angles currently so a joint assault would need compromise from both.
Turkey has been relatively open about its support for the rebels and already has its downed fighter jet as reason enough for an assault on the Syrian regime. When Assad’s forces shot down the Turkish plane on their border, prime minister, Erdo─čan called off the dogs. But with Assad in hiding and the FSA hitting at the heart of the capital, he has nothing to lose.
Jordan is more reluctant participant - denying clashes between Jordan and Syrian soldiers at the border despite mounting evidence to the contrary. But Saudi money is an essential part of their economy and resources in the Hashemite Kingdom are being stretched to the limit with the influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.
Clearly for Jordan to get involved, the Kingdom will need a guarantee of victory (to clear the way for refugee resettlement) and the smallest body count possible (to reassure citizens that they are still the safe-house of the Middle East.)
All this points to a joint air strike and a hands-off approach. We are unlikely to get our alliance sending troops on the ground. With the proper intelligence, this could easily work on a beleaguered Syrian regime force.
Asian Defence News

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