02/15/2016, 13.29
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Saudi Arabia announces ‘military manoeuvres’ of 20 Sunni countries

The announcement follows statements by Turkey and Saudi Arabia about a possible ground intervention. “We definitely won’t let the situation in Syria to go forward the way rebel countries want . . . We will take necessary actions in due time,” an Iranian official said.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Syria’s tragedy continues to be a mixture of attempts to strike a deal and threats of a widening conflict. Whilst some expect some positive fallout from the phone chat between Obama and Putin, Iranians and Saudis continue their veiled threats.

Iran in fact has warned that it was ready to “take necessary actions” in case of the intervention of Saudi ground troops.

For its part, Saudi Arabia announced that armed forces from some 20, mostly Sunni or Sunni-ruled countries were gathering in northern Saudi Arabia Sunday for “the most important” military manoeuvre ever staged in the region, the official news agency SPA reported.

Sunday’s announcement also comes as the kingdom, a member of the US-led coalition targeting the ISIS militant group, said it has deployed warplanes to Turkey’s Incirlik air base, as both Turkey and Saudi Arabia signalled the possibility of sending ground troops.

However, “We definitely won’t let the situation in Syria to go forward the way rebel countries want . . . We will take necessary actions in due time,” said Iran’s Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri.

Named ‘Thunder of the North,’ the manoeuvres, which will involve ground, air, and naval forces, will send a “clear message” that Riyadh and its allies “stand united in confronting all challenges and preserving peace and stability in the region”, SPA said.

The agency did not specify when the military exercise would begin or how long it would last. however, pro-government daily Arab News cited “analysts” who said “the exercise stresses that the leaderships of the participating countries fully agree with the Kingdom’s vision on the importance of the protection of peace and realization of stability in the region.”

The participating countries are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Sudan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Chad, Tunisia, Comoro Islands, Djibouti, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, Egypt, Mauritania, and Mauritius.

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