Friday, February 19, 2016

What Did France Do?

Perhaps this news is all about the Lebanese government, but I suspect that France is resisting Saudi intentions regarding Syria:

Saudi Arabia has suspended a $3 billion aid package for the Lebanese army to buy French weapons, state news agency SPA reported on Friday.

But I'm suspicious that way.

UPDATE: Ah, that's what France did:

French President Francois Hollande on Friday said Ankara's escalating involvement in the Syrian conflict was creating a risk of war between Turkey and Russia.

I'll guess that France is opposing the Turkish-Saudi proposal to send ground troops into northern Syria. So Saudi Arabia retaliated.

UPDATE: It isn't just the French:

European diplomats have warned the Turkish government that it cannot count on the NATO support should the conflict with Russia escalate into an armed conflict, according to German media.

Ankara has called for a joint ground operation in Syria with its international allies, insisting it is the only way to stop the country's five-year war. Saudi Arabia has said it would be ready to take part in an international force to be deployed in Syria.

The Europeans have a point. If we haven't been eager to fight Assad over Syria, why would we be eager to fight Russia by letting Turkey initiate a war against Russia?

Which makes it all the more frustrating that we didn't support a pro-rebel buffer zone/no-fly zone inside Syria years ago that would have put Russia in the position of escalating and risking war if Moscow intervened in Syria after that.

Turkey needs their own coalition of the willing who will help them behind the scenes without invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty should things get ugly in Syria.

And Turkey could attempt to intervene in a way that let's Russia know that escalation outside of Syria to include a general war against Turkey risks an Article 5 moment.

Really, I think Turkey can handle Russia in a limited war over Syria and in the Black Sea. Maybe not win that war even if they win in Syria. But Turkey could bloody Russia's nose enough to dent Putin's bare-chested, Tiger-hunting image.

Tip to Instapundit.

UPDATE: Well that's interesting:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, under pressure at home over her open-door policy for refugees, said on Wednesday that it would be good for the people in Aleppo and the area around it to create "a kind of no fly zone" up to the Turkish border, reiterating comments she made on Monday.

The Germans may consider the risk of war if it halts the flow of Moslems at the source less of a risk to the chancellor's humanitarian reputation than a decision to keep refugees and migrants out.

UPDATE: The arms transfer deal was supposedly caused by Lebanon's failure to side with Saudi Arabia openly in the Saudi embassy incident.

I find it hard to believe that the Saudis would undermine an effort to bolster the Lebanese government against the pro-Iran Hezbollah over that more symbolic offense.

UPDATE: A very late update:

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Saturday the kingdom will keep French military supplies previously intended for Lebanon under a $3 billion aid program, as Riyadh toughens its stance against Hezbollah.

Either this really is just about Lebanon or the Saudi pressure on France worked at least a bit.