Getting involved in the Middle East is like having the girlfriend from hell. Just as you were headed out the door, she threatens to commit suicide. The decision by Damascus to use heavy weapons like artillery, armor, and aircraft against the Syrian rebels not only underscores the superiority of the Assad regime in this category of combat, it also illustrates why it is so hard to leave the region to its own dysfunctional pathologies. Assad’s forces are advancing, albeit fitfully, on Aleppo, causing a further increase in the spate of refugees. At least 200,000 are on the move.
But more armaments are on the way to the rebels, and so the show will go on. NBC News reports on rumors that the Saudis have set up a military assistance command in Turkey. The Gulf sources had also said the Adana center, which is near the Syrian border and a U.S. Air Force base at Incirlik, was set up at the suggestion of Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah during a trip to Turkey.
It’s going to get worse, not better.
Other parties are arming up factions in the region. The Iraqi authorities report that someone is selling heavy weapons to the Kurds, but declined to say who:
A high-ranking Iraqi official said on July 29 that security agencies have uncovered a secret weapons deal between the autonomous Kurdistan region and an unnamed foreign country.
“The weapons include anti-armor and anti-aircraft missiles, and a large number of heavy weapons,” the official said, without specifying the exact weapons systems.
The official said Iraqi authorities have obtained “all the documents” pertaining to the deal, which is for “weapons of a Russian type made in 2004,” and are trying to block it.
For its part, Baghdad has ordered 36 F-16 warplanes from the United States and has already fielded M1 Abrams tanks.
Barzani expressed concern over the F-16s earlier this year, saying he was opposed to the sale of these warplanes while Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in office, fearing they would be used against Kurdistan.
Who could that someone be? Whoever it is, they’ve got a side to back. The Syrian civil war, like the Spanish one in the 20th century, has become a proxy battleground for foreign powers. On one side of the conflict are Iran, Russia, and Syria. Against them are the KSA, Qatar, and Turkey. What about the United States, one might ask, what about the hegemon? Well, what about them?