By Ghaleb Kandil
The Obama administration leads an offensive on all fronts of international confrontation, in an attempt to modify the equations that brought down the unilateral American hegemony. The objective is to impose an international partnership led by the United States.
The stated objective of the European-American offensive in Ukraine is to undermine Russian influence in this country, to subtract it from the politico- geographical space of influence of Moscow, and integrate it to the Western sphere of domination. European countries have provided substantial support to the Ukrainian opposition, and it is interesting to note that the United States have strengthened their relations with Germany, which does not hide its economic ambitions in Ukraine. This attitude has undermined the amelioration of relations that appeared between Russia and Germany after Obama’s decision to attack Syria, last summer. In this way, the American empire has led Europe in the battle against Russia, through Ukraine.
The plan exceeds Ukraine and aims to take over all areas of traditional Russian influence. American strategists know that if Russia manages to win the confrontation in Ukraine, it will succeed to strengthen its influence in the whole Eastern Europe.
Washington has also announced a review of its policies in Syria, in order to restore its prestige after Obama’s decision not to intervene militarily in Syria and to start negotiations with Iran about the nuclear issue. This reassessment aimed to reassure allies and satellites of the United States and tell them that Washington does not intend to withdraw from the Middle East, as had been imagined, despite serious setbacks suffered by its plans to destroy the Syrian state and contain Iran.
American strategists have acted on three axes to reassure regional allies and agents, including Saudi Arabia: 1-Attachment to the sanctions against Iran and slowing the negotiations with that country. 2-The focus on the protection of Israel, working on the final liquidation of the right of return of Palestinian refugees by the consecration of the “Jewish state of Israel”. This process will be completed by the normalization of relations between Israel and the Gulf states on military and economic levels. 3-The reactivation of the military option in Syria, through a vast project of arming and training the rebels and to launch an offensive from Jordan, with an aim to establish a “security zone” to protect Israel.
To cover this general offensive, the United States multiplies their lies about the fight against terrorism, while in Syria their main working tool are extremist groups affiliated to Al- Qaeda, which evolve under various brands.
It is clear that the confrontation in Ukraine will witness a great escalation in the coming weeks, despite the agreement signed under the patronage of the European Union.
Analysts expect measures and Russian initiatives to deal with the U.S. escalation in order to impose a balanced partnership in the world. The Russian position will also affect the Syrian and Iranian issues and not only on Ukrainian question, especially since the United States persist in wanting to build the missile shield directed against Moscow and Tehran.
About the Israeli-Jordanian “security zone” in Syria
By Ghaleb Kandil
Four factors shows that Western-Turkish-Saudi alliance against Syria, led by the United States, will fail to reverse the military balances established on the battlefield.
First, the popular mood has changed in favor of the national state. This appears in the reconciliations, which extend from one region to another, especially around Damascus. The inhabitants of these areas are tired of the crimes perpetrated by terrorist-takfirists groups and are convinced, as the majority of Syrians, that the return of the state is the only way for them to live a normal life.
Second, the fact that the United States is forced to involve Jordan and Israel in the offensive plan from the south is a sign of weakness, which will have serious repercussions on the military operation in preparation. Indeed, the internal situation in Jordan is very fragile and can explode at any time if the authorities of this country continue to participate actively and directly in the aggression against Syria. In addition, Israeli attempts to establish a “security zone” in Syria, controlled by a militia of collaborators, will be a detonator for the launch of a Syrian popular resistance to fight against Israel and its agents. They cannot hide anymore behind the windows of a pseudo-opposition.
Third, the attacking force in Jordan prepared for the offensive, regardless of their number, is a group of mercenaries hired by Arab-Western intelligence agencies, which recently held a coordination meeting in Washington. Whatever the level of training received by these mercenaries is, there is no doubt that they will not match that of a Syrian Arab Army and Army National Defence, whose patriotic motivations give them a moral superiority, added to an exceptional combat experience.
Fourth, the lies of the United States and Saudi Arabia on their support to “moderate armed groups” face realities that nobody can deny. The Saudis have indeed attempted to unite under one banner in the province of Daraa, the Takfirists, extremists and terrorists groups, who are not moderate at all.
The spine of the Daraa offensive will be Al-Nosra Front, Ahrar al-Sham Brigades, both close to al-Qaeda and the militias of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the main component of the “Islamic Front”. If this offensive exceeds the media framework, it will result in fierce fighting near the Jordanian border, not far from the separation line in the Golan heights. The plan of creation of a pro-Israeli “security zone” will be a factor of mobilization and additional fighting for the army and the Syrian people.
It will be a battle to defend the sovereignty and the independence of Syria against Israel.
MICHEL AOUN, Free Patriotic Movement Leader
«The formation of the cabinet will diffuse much of the hatred and popular tension, which will decrease the severity of local disputes. The terrorism prevailing in Syria could spill over into Lebanon; Al-Qaeda is still active in Arsal, and it is passing through areas where Hezbollah is present. The Arab and foreign countries’ interests in igniting tension in the region are many. They want to establish peace with Israel, take over Lebanon and Syria’s offshore petrol and gas and gain control over political and strategic areas.»
ALI FAYYAD, Hezbollah MP
«Formation of the cabinet is an important, essential and fundamental step in the context of meeting challenges. We must work to make the role of this government successful so that it will be effective and achieve what is required of it. The takfiri’s nonchalance at bringing injury to the Islamic Orphanage and killing civilians from all sects in the latest explosion in Bir Hassan, then targeting the army checkpoint in Hermel and setting conditions for halting terror operations connected to releasing terrorists from prison show that the problem of takfiri terrorism is not restricted to Hezbollah; rather, [it affects] the state and the people too.»
SAAD HARIRI, Future Movement leader
«We in the Future Movement will do all we can to prevent vacuum from affecting the presidency and this is a national duty for all political parties in Lebanon. It seems that you know more than we do. In fact serious dialogue took place with the FPM and it successfully led to the formation of the new government. At one point there will be a March 14 presidential candidate, and after that we will see how things go.»
WIAM WAHHAB, Arab Tawhid Party leader
«Here in the Sham region Assad and Nasrallah make the decisions. Here only honorable people make decisions not traitors. Those who want to share power in Syria should be living in their country and not in foreign hotels.»
• A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Lebanese Armed Forces checkpoint at the entrance of Beqaa’s Hermel on Saturday evening, killing three people, including two soldiers, and injuring more than ten others. “The blast was caused by an explosives-rigged four-wheel-drive vehicle… driven by a suicide bomber who detonated himself when he was stopped by [army] soldiers at the checkpoint,” according to a statement by the army. It added that the LAF “will not cease to fight anyone who attempts to harm the army and Lebanon, and will dismantle terrorist networks and pursue whomever is involved, no matter how great the sacrifice.” The National News Agency reported that a suicide bomber, driving a four-wheel-drive Jeep Grand Cherokee, plate number G248146, arrived at the army checkpoint from the eastern side of Hermel. When asked to turn on his lights, he detonated the car. The Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon, an offshoot of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for this attack. This incident was denounced by the country’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who said that “targeting the army is targeting an essential component of the nation.” The US Embassy also issued a statement condemning the explosion: “Targeting the army is akin to targeting all Lebanese.” The bombing on Saturday night was the latest in a string of attacks targeting Hezbollah-affiliated areas. Two car bombs exploded in Bir Hassan in Beirut’s south suburbs on Wednesday, killing 11 people. Hermel itself was targeted with car bombs twice before, on January 16 and on February 1st. Both were claimed by the same terrorist organization, the Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon. Lebanese Army forces have since attempted to uncover terror networks in Lebanon, and have been able to dismantle a number of explosives-rigged cars coming from Syria.
• The Lebanese Armed Forces raided the residence of Mahmoud Khalaf in Sidon to arrest him. LAF confiscated explosives, grenades and war rifles during the raid. Khalaf, a Palestinian national, is suspected of espousing the extremist ideology of Al-Qaeda and is one of the supporters of Salafi Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir who has been on the run since his supporters clashed with the LAF in Sidon’s Abra last year. The army’s intelligence on Sunday apprehended a man suspected of being the dangerous terrorist, known as Qassem al-Atrash, in the Beqaa town of al-Qaa, the National News Agency reported. The army is currently trying to confirm the identity of the arrested man, the report added.
AL AKHBAR (LEBANESE DAILY CLOSE TO THE LEBANESE RESISTANCE)
(FEBRUARY 22, 2014)
It is no longer a conjecture to say that the masterminds behind the suicide attacks want the situation to escalate in Lebanon, all the way to instigating a full-blown Sunni-Shia conflict. Naim Abbas, a prominent fundamentalist figure who is currently in custody for his alleged involvement in terrorist attacks, has revealed in the course of his questioning that there are plans in place for a major attack in the Shia-majority Chiyah district of Beirut’s southern suburb, with a view to cause an armed reaction against the people of Sunni-majority Tariq al-Jdideh.
Sources close to the investigation centering on the recent terror attacks said that Abbas collapsed in breathtaking speed, to the surprise of the investigators.
Abbas had turned his phone off when he had found out that an army unit was about to raid his hideout. Theoretically, Abbas could have “disappeared” and slipped from his pursuers, but his confusion gave him up, and prompted army intelligence officers to request to see his identification documents. After a five-minute quarrel between Abbas and army intelligence officers, Abbas revealed his real identity “outright.”
Abbas was put in a car that went straight to the Ministry of Defense. He not only revealed very quickly that there was a bomb rigged to explode near his apartment in the Corniche al-Mazraa district, but also lost control of himself en route to the ministry, and urinated in his clothes. The sources said that Abbas was in a state of terror until after he reached the interrogation room, and had told the investigators: I will tell you everything, just don’t beat me.
Abbas also revealed information about a strategy for expanding the scope of the bombings and maximizing the number of casualties, saying that there was nothing to stop suicide bombers or their plans. According to Abbas, his group had a “Sharia-based license” to do anything without regard to civilians or their religious affiliations.
Abbas said that the goal was to provoke Hezbollah so much that it would react in a way that would antagonize the Sunni community. This, his group calculated, would expand the margin of freedom for jihadists to operate within the Sunni community, and prevent any attempt by the government or other political parties to give cover to a crackdown against these groups. Another goal was to force Sunni clerics and politicians to step up their rhetoric against Hezbollah, giving cover to further attacks against its base.
The suspect said that he was not a member of al-Nusra Front or the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, but that he operated in the same jihadist circles. Abbas also said that he focused on recruiting people who were involved in what happened in Abra, meaning the supporters of fugitive cleric Ahmad al-Assir, especially those who had fled to the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp and other areas.
Naim Abbas said that it was him who had trained and gave the suicide belt and assault rifle to the young Syrian man who blew himself up in a van in Choueifat. In response to a question about why that suicide bomber was asking for directions to the police station and the gas company in the Ouzai area of Beirut, Abbas told the investigators that the man wanted to reach Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV building near the Golf course in Bir Hassan-Ouzai, which would have been easy to reach in a taxi from the police station or the gas company.
Abbas said that the suicide bomber was supposed to reach the building’s entrance, open fire at the guards, and then attempt to enter the building along with another suicide bomber. They were supposed to empty their magazines and then blow themselves up inside the building.
Abbas also told investigators that he wanted to prepare a third suicide bomber in an explosives-laden car that would wait nearby, and then hurtle toward the building when crowds gather detonating.
The fundamentalist suspect admitted that during discussions with associates regarding the situation in Dahiyeh, the focus was on how to expand the scope of attacks inside Beirut’s southern suburb, to force Hezbollah and the population to react violently against Sunnis inside Dahiyeh.
What happened after the first few bombings was that Hezbollah did not react, for example, by staging car-bomb attacks in Sunni-majority areas, while the population showed a lot of self-restraint. Because of this, the jihadist groups started thinking in a different way.
Abbas said that the groups in charge of surveillance noticed that countermeasures were stepped up in the areas that are under the full control of Hezbollah, while measures in the Chiyah area were relatively more relaxed compared to Haret Hreik, Roueiss, and Bir al-Abed. According to Abbas, his associates’ assumption was that despite the fact that the Amal Movement’s attitudes were identical to those of Hezbollah, the nature of the region in Chiyah, an Amal stronghold, made it less possible to rein in the street’s reaction compared to other areas. For this reason, plans were put in place to carry out suicide attacks in Chiyah, to instigate anti-Sunni reactions, especially in the direction of Tariq al-Jdideh.
Abbas was reportedly planning a two-pronged attack in a street in Chiyah, but Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi, commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Qalamoun region with whom Abbas was in close coordination, suggested a three-stage suicide attack instead.
AL AKHBAR (FEBRUARY 22, 2014)
The car enters al-Arrab Street near al-Dablan and other flashpoint neighborhoods in the Syrian city of Homs. The street is a reminder of its former cheerful days, when it was the site of art exhibits and cultural events.
Reaching the temporary lodgings of the people who left Old Homs is not an easy feat. An army checkpoint awaits you, with a soldier wanting to know where you are heading and the reason for your visit. The elegant buildings in al-Arrab do not have bullet and shell marks. Its residents left after the initial clashes in al-Dablan, but they quickly returned; this makes the neighborhood stand out in comparison to nearby neighborhoods that have been abandoned.
Al-Andalus School, which the government turned into a shelter for refugees, is across the street from the Education Directorate. It houses about 340 civilians who left old Homs, paving the way for the exit of some men with their families. People who have nowhere to stay under the auspices of the state will remain in the old building.
The front of the building shows signs of old clashes, and there are policemen at its entrance to inspect IDs and conduct searches. In the school’s playground, children play soccer. Clergymen leave the center. They visit the families all the time. One sounds confident that the rest will be out soon. A woman standing nearby whispers: “They’re never going to come out. They boobytrapped the tunnels, and the road is full of snipers.”
Dr. Abdel-Qader Zubair had only two months left to finish his residency at al-Walid Hospital located in the Waer neighborhood, but he ended up in a field hospital after he was kidnapped from the hospital. Zubair has tried to return to his family.
“We were caught between a rock and a hard place. We were afraid of the militants inside, but we didn’t dare flee because we were afraid of how the security forces and the army was going to treat us. Were they going to treat us as if we were fighters?” he said.
Khaled al-Masry is an anesthesiologist. He was kidnapped from al-Bir Hospital in the Waer neighborhood to work at a field hospital in Jouret al-Shayah. The doctors there had no choice but to accept the situation. Leaving the hospital was forbidden. Masry said he and a friend escaped by helping to carry aid packages that were brought in. “We met the United Nations representative and gave him an idea about our situation. So he took us out in his car right away. We underwent a routine investigation then left,” he said.
According to the people leaving Old Homs, the fighters address each other by aliases and titles. The name Abu al-Harith comes up a lot, which suggests he controls a number of fighters inside.
Baraa, 8, is full of tales: “They don’t know how to shoot because they haven’t done their military service. They would come and ask daddy how to put the bullets because daddy has done his military service and knows how to shoot, but he doesn’t carry a gun because he worries about us.”
She added: “They hid among us when we were leaving and they carried me and my sister Jana so the army would think they are families.”
Female volunteers from the Shabab al-Kheir Association in charge of the relief center cleaned up the little girls and gave them food. Tragedy befell the family before the father decided to take out Baraa and her three sisters, the youngest no older than three. They had lost their mother and an infant boy in an explosion seven months ago. The father, with his daughters, carried the mother’s remains to bury her. The girls talk about her as if she has vanished. They do not cry; hunger keeps them preoccupied.
Baraa said, “The rebels were our neighbors. We used to gather wood and cut it and put it in a barrel so they could feel warm.” The rebels, according to Baraa, would use the wood from doors of houses and bring them to the girls to break using large stones. They were used to carrying large stones and doing what those guys asked them.
“‘Tell your daughters we want tea, tell your daughters we want firewood,’” Baraa repeated what they used to tell her father. “‘Veil your daughters, we’re Muslim, have her wear a coat and cover her face.’”
“He wanted to buy my three-year-old sister Jana. He told father, I will pay as much as you want for her. He also told him, I will take your daughters and raise them if you can’t feed them.”
The fighters, according to the civilians who left, have adapted to not having power by relying on electric generators that work four hours a day. The civilians, on the other hand, have forgotten what electricity means. They retrieve soiled water from an old well and spend much time filtering it before it’s potable.
Fraiha, 12, said, “We had to eat [cats] out of hunger, but [the fighters] had some food left from the aid. They were able to break into homes and steal food supplies. They would search people’s homes and steal the food after putting a gun to the homeowner’s head.” Baraa interrupted, “We ate so many cats. Our houses were filled with big mice.” The girl’s neutral, expressionless face was unfathomable. Fraiha continued, “The meat was not good. It tasted bitter.”
Fraiha described how some tried to flee, but the fighters beheaded four of them. Another who tried to escape was whipped in the street.
Omar, 15, sits by the school’s fence. He is happy. He is carrying cigarettes in all his pockets. Here, he can smoke as much as he wants. He explained the situation inside: “The price of a bird is 10,000 Syrian pounds ($70) even though it is eaten. But the price of a kilo of Arabic cigarettes is 3 million pounds ($20,877). But does anyone have 3 million pounds?” Answering his own question, he said, “All those inside have millions, but there are no goods to buy. … They stole everything, the market, jewelry and clothes stores.”
Two other guys sit alone. Mohammed, 20, said he carried arms for a week so he could get rations. “They killed my friend under the pretext that he collaborated with the Syrian army. That is why I stopped carrying arms,” he said. “I started working with them like most people whom they used for logistical work, such as digging tunnels, serving them, and a lot of other hard work that they forced people to do.”
AL AKHBAR (FEBRUARY 21, 2014)
The standing of over 500 fighters in Babbila has been resolved according to AFP. The agreement to resolve the standing of rebel fighters in the Damascus countryside has so far included a few thousand men. These fighters did not express concern over their fate after an agreement was reached. The agreement was done in a way to build confidence between rebels and the government, allowing them to confront crimes committed by foreign fighters.
Damascus countryside- The standing of rebel fighters is usually addressed at the outset of preparations for any compromise or agreement in the Damascus countryside. At first, mediators – made up of neighborhood elders or national reconciliation committees – give Syrian army officers in charge of the reconciliation process lists of the names of dozens of fighters. These officers come up with a plan regarding the fate of these fighters if they surrender to the army, which then puts the reconciliation process in motion.
This step usually serves as a token of how serious both sides are over the reconciliation efforts and as a way to gauge the mediators’ influence. Based on the success of the first step, the outcome of the remaining steps is determined by addressing the standing of the rest of the fighters who usually keep their light weapons under the leadership of the National Defense Force, which in turn falls under the leadership of the Syrian army.
Thanks to this process, the standing of a few thousand rebel fighters in the Damascus countryside was gradually resolved. In Madaya, located in the northwestern countryside of Damascus, the status of 500 fighters was resolved all at once. More than 150 fighters have turned themselves over to popular committees, or what has come to be known as the National Defense Force, in Qudsaya in the north of Damascus. The standing of about 20 leaders of armed groups and their fighters (who are estimated to be in the hundreds) in Barzeh, located to the northeast of Damascus, was resolved in the National Defense Force center in al-Mazzeh. The same scenario happened in Moadamiyeh and with hundreds of fighters in Western Ghouta as well.
Reconciliation efforts in many areas in the Damascus countryside began a long time before this latest success, but these initial attempts failed because “the political leadership did not adopt these steps in the past,” a known activist in the reconciliation efforts who preferred to remain anonymous told Al-Akhbar. He added: “The truth is, the agreements began in the Damascus countryside as traps that some security agencies set up for the rebel fighters. Many of the fighters whom we convinced to return to national ranks, were entrapped and arrested by some security agencies.” This affected the credibility of all the national reconciliation committees, whether those belonging to the National Reconciliation Ministry or the ones created through popular initiatives. “Many members of the national reconciliation committees were assassinated by fighters to avenge what happened.” However, an opportunity came when an officer from the Syrian Republican Guard began to call reconciliation committees under orders from the political leadership to discuss the possibility of making reconciliation efforts work. Then they began making compromises.
The reconciliation committees spoke with rebel leaders who come from the neighborhoods where agreements were reached and they, in turn, took on the task of talking to the foreign fighters and to drive them out of the neighborhoods they were occupying.
Sheikh Anas al-Tawil, who is an activist in Babbila, told Al-Akhbar : “We have principles that govern these reconciliation efforts. The first principle is that there is no dialogue with foreign fighters.” In all the attempts to reach a compromise in the Damascus countryside, the difference in opinion was between the local and foreign fighters.
Rabih Mustafa, a fighter from Babbila, told Al-Akhbar: “As a result of contacts with the elders months ago, we received warnings from the Saudi, Tunisian and Libyan fighters, in addition to some Syrian fighters from al-Nusra Front, against pressing ahead with the dialogue with the reconciliation committees describing their members as Shabiha, i.e, regime thugs.” This infuriated fighters from Babbilah. “None of us agreed to describing the town’s sheikhs, mayor and elders as such.”
In the second phase, the foreign fighters tried to reason with local rebels after reconciliation efforts took off. They warned against the security agencies recalling numerous incidents whereby rebel fighters were entrapped. But the elders, in cooperation with the officers in charge of this issue, had taken this into consideration, “so they agreed to allow the fighters to keep light arms and to receive a monthly salary from the National Defense Army as we became members of it.”
The details of the reconciliation process convinced local fighters and the residents left in Barzeh, Babbila, Beit Sahem, Moadamieh, Qudsia, Madaya, al-Zabadani and al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp to take part in reconciliation efforts since they were slowly dieing of starvation and they did not see the point of military confrontations. This made foreign fighters, mostly from al-Nusra Front, face two options, either fight with the residents and the local fighters or withdraw.
“Although the scale tipped in favor of the second option, this did not prevent foreign fighters from expressing their opposition to the compromises in different ways. Some threatened retribution after victory and some of them decided to withdraw at inappropriate military times to teach those who demanded their withdrawal a lesson. Some expressed their opposition by assassinating figures that had called for a compromise.”
Rebel fighters who accepted reconciliation agreements do not fear being pursued or avenged by hardline security agencies in the government. Mohammed al-Moadamani (a pseudonym), a fighter from Moadamieh tells Al-Akhbar: “The government is serious about reaching a compromise. This conviction does not stem from promises, oral or written guarantees, but from the fact that reconciliation process is a comprehensive process.”
He explains that the process includes: determining the roles of the fighters, rehabilitating local infrastructure, the return of residents to their homes and the coverage of the event by the media. He adds: “The reconciliation seems serious. It is obvious that the officers from the Syrian Republican Guard who are in charge have instructions from the top to treat us well.” For Mohammed, they can still face the worst case scenario. “The weapons are still with us, according to the terms of the agreement to protect us from any hardline party whether they are foreign fighters or al-Nusra Front fighters or even from the other side.”
Oddly enough, the process of these agreements included some civilians or those unable to carry arms. One such civilian is Ramadan Hijazi, originially from Daraya, whose left hand is paralyzed. He moved from Daraya to Moadamieh when he heard about the reconciliation efforts, hoping to get out of both areas. Ramadan tells his story to Al-Akhbarwith a smile: “I went with a group of fighters to Mazzeh and we engaged in a dialogue there. Like the others, I vowed not to direct arms, which I never used, against the state.”
Today, Ramadan is living in Jdeidet al-Fadl and he doubts that his life is in danger. He is still in contact with the “good guys” among the officers in charge of this issue and the national reconciliation. Those familiar with the details of most agreements point out that concept of the fighter in the compromise reached includes all males between the ages of 15-55 because investigating to know the identity of those who carried arms is truly a complicated matter and might take a long time.
AFP (FRANCE-PRESS AGENCY)
ACIL TABBARA (FEBRUARY 23, 2014)
Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to provide anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets to Syrian rebels to try to tip the balance in the war to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, a Saudi source said Sunday.
The United States has long opposed arming the rebels with such weapons, fearing they might end up in the hands of extremists, but Syrian opposition figures say the failure of Geneva peace talks seems to have led Washington to soften its opposition.
Pakistan makes its own version of Chinese shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, known as Anza, and anti-tank rockets — both of which Riyadh is trying to get for the rebels, said the source, who is close to Saudi decision-makers, requesting anonymity.
The source pointed to a visit to Riyadh earlier this month by Pakistan’s army chief of staff, General Raheel Sharif, who met Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz.
Prince Salman himself last week led a large delegation to Pakistan, shortly after Saudi’s chief diplomat Prince Saud al-Faisal visited the kingdom’s key ally.
Jordan will be providing facilities to store the weapons before they are delivered to rebels within Syria, the same source said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (right) welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul …
AFP could not obtain confirmation from officials in Saudi, Pakistan or Jordan.
The head of the Syrian opposition, Ahmad Jarba, promised during a flying visit to northern Syria last week that “powerful arms will be arriving soon.”
“The United States could allow their allies provide the rebels with anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons following the failure of Geneva talks and the renewed tension with Russia,” said the head of the Gulf Research Centre, Abdel Aziz al-Sager.
Providing those weapons to the rebels “relieves pressure on the US in the short-term,” said Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Programme at the Washington Institue for Near East Policy.
“But the long-term political worry is that Manpads (Man-portable air-defence systems) will leak and be used to bring down a civilian airliner somewhere in the world.”
Weapons and ammunition seized by the Jordanian security forces during a hunt for wanted “outlaw …
Rebels have long said that anti-aircraft rockets would help them defend themselves against Syrian warplanes, which regularly bomb rebel-held areas with barrels loaded with TNT and other ordinance.
The nearly-three-year conflict in Syria has torn the country apart, killing more than 140,000 people, including some 50,000 civilians, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Rising Saudi influence
Saudi Arabia has a strong influence on Syria’s southern front, where it coordinates with Jordan, and has helped unite the rebel fighters in the area, according to Syrian opposition sources.
On the other hand, Qatar and Turkey are responsible for coordinating with the rebels on the northern front, said an official of the Syrian opposition, requesting anonymity.
Saudi Arabia has come to eclipse Qatar as the main supporter of the Syrian rebels, a development illustrated by the election last July of Ahmad Jarba, who has strong Saudi links, to lead the Syrian National Coalition, the main umbrella opposition group.
The trend appeared to continue with the dismissal last week of General Selim Idriss, the top commander of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, who was considered close to Qatar, according to an opposition source.
The main criticism of Idriss was “bad distribution of weapons” and “errors in battle,” said another opposition source.
Idriss, who has refused his dismissal, has been replaced by Brigadier General Abdel Ilah al-Bashir, the leader of the rebel military council for the region of Quneitra in southern Syria.
On its internal front, Saudi Arabia has sidelined intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who had been leading Riyadh’s efforts concerning Syria, according to a Western diplomat.
Diplomats have said that the file has been passed to the interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, known for his successful crackdown on Al-Qaeda following a wave of deadly attacks in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006.
Bandar’s management had triggered American criticism, diplomats said.
The Saudi royal himself has reproached Washington for its decision not to intervene militarily in Syria, and for preventing its allies from providing rebels with much-needed weapons, diplomats added.
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