As al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra amasses gains across northwestern Syria, President Bashar Assad’s government has repeatedly accused Turkey of playing spoiler in those battles, and orchestrating the major losses. Turkish officials now seem to be confirming as much.
Turkish officials say the recent “gains” in the northwest are the product of a deal between them and Saudi Arabia to more aggressively back rebel factions in the area in the hope of accelerating regime change in the country.
That Turkey and Saudi Arabia are both keen on ousting Assad is not news, but having already been burned by backing regime change only to see ISIS take over much of the regions, it appears no lessons have been learned, and they’re going to do it all over again, with al-Qaeda this time.
The Turkish officials went on to criticize the US for its “reservations” about the plan, accusing them of not being sufficiently active in Syria and attributing this to a rapprochement with Iran. The US may simply believe that after years of backing dubious allies in Syria, overtly aiding an al-Qaeda takeover of major cities would be a particularly hard sell.
The officials went on to confirm that Turkey is providing logistic and advisory support to the rebels, dominated by al-Qaeda, adding that unlike ISIS they don’t see al-Qaeda as any particular threat to Turkish territory and see no reason to impede them.