With Saudi officials continuing to talk up the idea of sending special forces, and potentially a full contingent of ground troops, into Syria to fight, they are getting their first public push-back, as Iraqi PM Hayder Abadi warns the move would be a “dangerous escalation” of the war.
Of course, the wars in Iraq and Syria have been escalating for years now, but the idea of Saudi Arabia, a Sunni state that is backing several Islamist rebel factions, showing up on the ground in Syria amid a sectarian civil war clearly sets a precedent that Iraq’s own Shi’ite government, facing its own sectarian war, clearly doesn’t want set.
The US, however, is talking up the Saudi invasion as “one option” for the Saudis to increase their “contribution” to the war in Syria, and say they won’t rule out backing the Saudi deployment, though some Saudi officials have suggested the deployment would only come as part of a US-led coalition.
Saudi allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have already offered to join the Saudi deployment, and some are suggesting that Turkey would be a big focus of trying to get the coalition into Syria. Turkey, however, would likely focus on fighting the Kurds in Syria, who are nominally the closest US allies, and the Saudis and their allies are creating such a humanitarian disaster in Yemen it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to replicate that in Syria.