WASHINGTON – While the White House struggles to convince European allies to support a military strike in Syria, America’s longtime Arab partners could step in and lend support to varying degrees.
While their level of cooperation is likely to vary, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have all pledged some type of help to the U.S.
The countries, which are Syria’s regional neighbors, have all been on the receiving end of American aid for decades.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has reportedly put his country’s armed forces on alert, reiterated his support for a strike in Syria during a press conference Friday at the G20 summit in Russia. He also said he would be willing to join any international coalition and suggested the possibility of a small group of countries forming apart from the U.N. to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“It could be three countries… five countries… What will be the strategy of such an operation, what will be the tactics, they are separate issues … But the necessity for such a thing to happen was emphasized (at the summit),” Erdogan said Friday about the meeting of world leaders.
Turkey, which shares a border with Syria, has seen an economic boon in the past decade due to cash infusions and aid coming in from Europe and America. The country is on track to receive $4.7 million from the U.S. in 2013 and would be an important ally should America strike.
Despite two years of sluggish growth, Turkey’s economic development has been impressive. From 2002 to 2010, the country’s gross domestic product tripled, fueled in part by small-to-medium sized, export-oriented businesses concentrated in the southern and central part of the country.
Already, Turkey has been pro-active in trying to find an end to the war.
The country has sent convoys carrying tanks and rocket-launchers to its border with Syria, and according to local media reports, F-16 fighters have been seeing patrolling the 559-mile stretch of land. The government has also set up a de-containment unit to disinfect cars crossing from Syria in case they were carrying traces of chemical weapons.
But Turkey’s once-thriving economy is feeling the weight of the two-and-a-half year Syrian civil war. Since the conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces began, more than 500,000 refugees have fled to Turkey and according to Erdogan, his government has spent nearly $2 billion sheltering them.
On Thursday, the UN reported there were 726,340 Syrians stranded in Lebanon – about 36 percent of the total Syrian refugee count. Lebanon has been the battleground for 40 different armies in its own civil war including fighters from Israel, Iran and the U.S.
Sectarian tensions there have hardened and despite a partnership with America that dates back more than six decades, the country is hesitant to support a full-fledged military strike although it could well supply some sort of assistance.
Peter Brookes, a scholar at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News on Friday that striking Syria could have dangerous consequences down the line for America and for those who help America.
“Syria is a chemical weapons super power,” he said. “We’re treating a symptom and not a disease.”
The possible unintended consequences of a strike have left many in the region.
Jordan, the recipient of $671 million from the U.S. this year alone, joined an Arab League statement calling for unspecified “measures,” by the international community in response to the alleged Aug. 21 chemical attack in Syria.
Even though a government spokesman warned that the country would not be used as a “launching pad” for strikes on Syria, officials told The Associated Press that the CIA had been training select groups of rebels in Jordan on communications equipment.
One country that has stepped up its support is Saudi Arabia. The country, which received $10,000 from the U.S. in 2013, called for “necessary measures” against Syria following the chemical attack. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are generally seen as two of the strongest U.S. allies in the region.