ATHENS, February 16. /TASS/. The threat of Turkey’s and Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Syria is being used to influence the situation in that country, a Russian lawmaker has said.
"Possible invasion of Syria by Turkey’s land forces is being widely discussed. Naturally, we are keeping a close eye on the steps taken by the Turkish and Saudi leadership," Alexey Pushkov, the chairman of the international committee at Russia’s State Duma lower parliament house, told journalists. "It looks like Turkey is making certain military preparations to have such a possibility, and the Russian Defense Ministry is officially speaking about it."
"Naturally, developments in Syria are extremely disadvantageous for Ankara, since those forces Turkey is supporting in Syria, including some part of the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, are now suffering defeat, and we are fully aware that Turkey has contacts with Islamic State gunmen who are gradually losing their positions," Pushkov said. "Saudi Arabia has similar concerns, i.e. that radical Islamist groups it is supporting and sponsoring are now retreating. Riyadh, as far as I understand, thinks that now is a turning point when gunmen from armed opposition can suffer such losses after which they will not be able to regain their positions."
"Saudi Arabia said it is ready for a military operation but is waiting for consent from the United States. On the other hand, the Saudis have no capable army of their own, i.e. those they can deploy are mostly people who are serving for money, mercenaries," he said. "Riyadh has no troops of its own and it is difficult to say now whether its threats to launch a military invasion of Syria are real or a bluff. Anyway, I don’t think Saudi Arabia can send 100,000 troops, as it said. So far, it can be seen as an attempt to influence the situation by means of threats and political maneuvers."
"Europe is cautious about Turkey’s possible military actions in Syria because Turkey is a NATO country and no one knows how the situation might develop further," the Russian lawmaker said. "Europe is afraid that Turkey might jump into this conflict and later seek protection from certain situation or incidents that might happen."
"NATO doesn’t want to get involved into a conflict because of Turkey’s actions but Ankara is its ally and their relations have to develop in condition of this dichotomy," he noted. "I think that the United States is also rather cautious about the prospects of Turkey’s military involvement in the armed conflict as it understands that is such case prospects for a political settlement would be reduced to nil."
Over his stay in Athens, Pushkov met with Greek Minister of National Defense Panagiotis Kammenos, speaker of the Greek parliament Nikos Voutsis and chairman of Greek parliament’s international committee Konstantinos Douzinas. The agenda of the talks includes a wide range of issue, including the situation in Syria and the Ukrainian crisis.