An anti-Iran coalition of sorts seems to be developing in the Middle East at a nascent stage and Tehran has a lot to worry about due to the same. The Arab world, normalising ties with Israel and subsequently not shying away from expressing willingness to form a military alliance with the Jewish nation, was already an insufferable heartburn for Iran. If recent developments are anything to go by, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are also thawing their strained relations after three years. Turkey, battered by regional and global isolation and harbouring a nosediving economy, has no option but to fall into the Saudi trap.
Saudi Arabia is looking to purchase Turkey’s armed drones. No less than wannabe caliph and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attested to the same, saying that Ankara had been asked for an armed drone deal by Riyadh. Although Turkey has also said that Saudi Arabia must distance itself from Ankara’s archnemesis – Greece, the same should not be paid much heed to. Turkey is simply not in a position to negotiate the terms of a defence deal, particularly with Saudi Arabia. With an economy that is plummeting and foreign relations which are close to becoming non-existent, the proposal of a drone-purchase deal from no less than Riyadh comes as a blessing for Turkey.
So, despite its shenanigans, rest assured, Turkey will sell its armed drones to Saudi Arabia at the earliest. It has no option but to do the same, which is why we referred to the Saudi proposal as a trap, aimed at taking on Iran, while also bringing Turkey on its side – under a large anti-Iran coalition forming in the region. Turkey has emerged as one of the world’s premier makers of armed drones, which helped Azerbaijan make sweeping gains in a six-week war with Armenia last year over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish drones have also been deployed to the conflicts in Syria and Libya.
Saudi Arabia is currently being targeted by Iran-backed Houthis, who have in recent months taken to launching armed drone attacks against Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is currently involved in the Yemen war and is fighting against the Houthis, who in March 2015 ousted the Saudi-backed government from power in the capital, Sanaa. Essentially, the drone attacks against Saudi Arabia by the Houthis are Iran’s doing for which Riyadh intends to make the Shi’ite nation pay big time. Apart from the Houthis, Saudi Arabia also faces the grave threat of ‘suicide drones’ being launched against it by Iraqi militias, who last month even launched such drones to carry out missions in Riyadh.
The Turkish drones which Saudi Arabia has begun eyeing, and which it will procure soon, will be used to target Iran-backed militias across the region. They will be used against the Houthis particularly in Yemen and could prove to be a gamechanger. The use of Turkish drones against Iranian proxies will most definitely spell the death knell of any bonhomie between Ankara and Tehran. In Libya, where Turkey is backing the GNA forces while Saudi Arabia puts its weight behind the Haftar-led LNA, Turkish drones could prove to be a consequential gamechanger for Riyadh. What is even more interesting is that Iran is supportive of Turkey in Libya, making it all the more reason to be targeted by Saudi Arabia using Turkish drones.
In Iraq, the militias backed by Iran continue to target US forces and their bases. In 2019, Saudi Arabia had condemned Iran-backed militias for their attacks on American forces. Once armed with Turkish drones, Saudi Arabia will not hesitate from taking on Iranian militias in Iraq too.
Saudi Arabia has come up with a masterplan to ensure the alienation of Iran in the region. Its only friend – Turkey is also all set to abandon it for economic gains. And why will it not? Siding with Saudi Arabia brings so much more to the table than maintaining a no-returns relationship with Iran, which has, as a matter of fact, only ended up infuriating the US in recent times. So, Turkey is bound to join the anti-Iran bandwagon in the Middle East. For Iran, being struck by Turkish-made drones will be poetic, to say the least.
The move of Saudi Arabia, of expressing its willingness to purchase armed drones from Turkey, comes at a time when the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel have announced a partnership for the development of “Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System” or anti-drone technology. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has announced that the anti-drone technology would be “tailored to the UAE market, with wide-ranging benefits for the MENA region and beyond.” The development suggests that the UAE might be looking to make a comeback in the Yemen war, and strike a final and fatal blow to Iran in the region.
Iran is truly being left all alone in the Middle East. It is now solely upon it to fall in line, or face severe consequences from a consolidated alliance of the Arabs and Israelis, armed with Turkish drone technology.