Washington’s Arab allies, disappointed with Syria peace talks, have agreed to provide rebels there with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, according to Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures.
Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition for the first time Chinese man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads, and antitank guided missiles from Russia, according to an Arab diplomat and several opposition figures with knowledge of the efforts. Saudi officials couldn’t be reached to comment.
The U.S. has long opposed arming rebels with antiaircraft missiles for fear they could fall into the hands of extremists who might use them against the West or commercial airlines. The Saudis have held off supplying them in the past because of U.S. opposition. A senior Obama administration official said Friday that the U.S. objection remains the same. “There hasn’t been a change internally on our view,” the official said.
The U.S. for its part has stepped up financial support, handing over millions of dollars in new aid to pay fighters’ salaries, said rebel commanders who received some of the money. The U.S. wouldn’t comment on any payments.
The focus of the new rebel military push is to retake the southern suburbs of Damascus in hopes of forcing the regime to accept a political resolution to the war by agreeing to a transitional government without President Bashar al-Assad.
So, Saudi Arabia is supporting the rebels against the Al-Assad government with weapons?!?
Are these not the same rebels which have been committing horrific abuses against Christian and other minorities inside Syria, like the Alawites? Are these not the same rebels ideologically aligned with Al-Qaeda?!?
I am having an industrial-strength, palm to forehead moment at velocity upon reading this, and my sense of the situation is that, at the end of the day, Al-Assad will not step down.
But for those precious few adults in the room in the bowels of power in DC, I would strongly caution them to be careful what they wish for here; a "new and improved" regime in Damascus may well be virulently anti-Western, and fiercely intolerant of any other "flavor" of Islam in the country than their own.