Saudi role in the war on Syria
by Ghaleb Kandil on 19 Dec 2012 0 Comment

On the political level, the government in Riyadh and the remaining Gulf governments, with the exception of Qatar, committed at the beginning of the Syrian events and for the next six months to stressing the necessity of maintaining Syrian stability. These reservations were caused by Saudi fears over the consequences of the actions witnessed in the Arab states since the end of 2011, and their repercussions on the Saudi domestic situation, especially in light of what was witnessed in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Saudi backyard, and in Yemen.


The latter two countries are Saudi Arabia's neighbours, and their internal situations – especially on the political level – reflect on the Saudi situation due to their demographic, economic and geographic connections.


But very quickly, the Saudi official position became hostile, thus following in the footsteps of the Qatari-Western escalation in the context of the Arab League, where Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was the loudest in calling for arming and funding the Syrian opposition, for foreign intervention in Syria, and for a comprehensive attack that would lead to internationalization and clashing with the Russian-Chinese position following their dual veto. What was noticeable at this level was the Saudi Kingdom's submission to the policy adopted by the West in managing the war on Syria, based on enhancement of the position of the Qatari Emirate, to allow it to lead the political game. This policy featured a mounting American wager on the Turkish role, at the expense of the traditional Saudi weight.


On the media level, the Saudi media outlets were mobilized from day one to perform a hostile role against the Syrian state, encourage the rebellion, and promote the information fabricated by opposition groups which established operations rooms in Doha, Dubai, Paris, Beirut, London and New York. In this context, the most prominent papers were Asharq al-Awsat and Al-Hayat, alongside the Al-Arabiya channel – all owned by the Saudi ruling family – as they acted as the main hostility tools in the war on Syria. Al-Hariri's media empire which is funded by Saudi Arabia played a main role in this media campaign.  


On the financial level, Saudi funds reached a number of opposition groups and known symbols, such as former Syrian Vice Presidents Abdul Halim Khaddam and Rifaat al-Assad, in addition to Muslim Brotherhood leaders who enjoy traditional ties with the Kingdom. Moreover, Saudi Arabia dispatched massive funds to religious associations, committees and mosques which contributed to the organization of the armed rebellion and leading the actions inside Syria. It is worth mentioning that most of the latter associations were founded years ago with direct Saudi support, under the cover of the establishment of mosques, teaching the Holy Koran and organizing charitable work. But in fact, they acted as an organizational and security cover for armed formations which emerged following the eruption of the Syrian incidents.


The Syrian Takfiri movement led by Sheikh Adnan al-Arour is a direct Saudi extension. Its action in Hama, Rif Damascus and Daraa is being led by Sheikh Al-Arour from his headquarters in Riyadh, via his satellite channel which is run from the kingdom but has an office in Cairo. Since the first months of the events on the ground, the Takfiris surfaced and carried out killings and dismemberment by use of swords, at a time when it turned this movement maintained special networks for the transfer of funds and weapons into Syria, mainly via Jordan and Lebanon.


The role played by the Future Movement in the smuggling of weapons and funds from Lebanon to the armed groups in Syria, and its media instigation which targeted the Syrian arena, embodies an action plan led by Saudi Intelligence Chief Bandar Bin Sultan. In addition, the Future Movement organized Lebanese-Syrian networks for smuggling across the border since the beginning of the events, and established operations rooms in the North with the participation of American and French intelligence officers, along with the Saudi, Qatari and Emirati intelligence apparatuses.


It is believed that Al-Qaeda groups closely linked to Bandar Bin Sultan were implicated in explosions and assassinations inside Syria, and that some of them came from Lebanon and Iraq after they had moved to Jordan, home country of Al-Qaeda leader Abu Mosaab al-Zarqawi. After they were joined by Syrian groups, they turned into a main force in the context of Al-Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda branch in Syria. Lately, Saudi Arabia also launched economic measures against Syria, stopped import of Syrian products and imposed procedures to obstruct transfers of Syrians working in it and are being subjected to harassment.   


Saudi authorities perceive the war on Syria as the only way to get rid of the Iranian presence along the Arab-Israeli friction line and the border with occupied Palestine, which is a critical axis perceived by the Saudis and Americans as being the source of the Iranian weight in the region and the pillar of the Iranian regional role and influence in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia believes this role is expanding at the expense of its own traditional role in the region. The Saudi officials perceive the war on Syria from a sectarian angle, and as an opportunity to redistribute Sunni weight in the region following the failure of the Saudi wager on maintaining some of its influence in Iraq and the failure of the attempts to enhance Al-Hariri's influence in Lebanon.  


Furthermore, the Saudi Kingdom believes that the Syrian state is its historical opponent in the region and especially the Arab-Israeli conflict and settlement attempts. It holds President Bashar al-Assad directly responsible for encouraging Palestinian and Lebanese extremism which are embodied by the armed resistance movements, for allowing expansion of Iranian influence in the region and for exceeding the ceilings which Syrian policy used to take into account on all fronts, in favor of an extremist and hostile method, Iranian-style.      




America's sinful adoption of Al-Qaeda for the second time


It is certain that the American administration is drowning in its adoption of the Al-Qaeda formations that are fighting the secular Syrian national state and its national army whose doctrine is based on the fighting of Zionism, terrorism and sectarian violence.


American strategies in the Arab East rely on hostility towards any liberational and pan-Arab inclination aiming at enhancing national independence and fighting Zionist hegemony. Along the deep friction lines established by the Arab-Zionist conflict, alliances and regional axes are taking shape in which Al-Qaeda networks and branches have transformed into tools of division and terrorism supported by the West to prevent enhancement of social fabric in Arab states fighting Zionism and imperialism. This is being done through the spread of violence and terrorism, alongside a culture of sectarian strife and transformation of a fictive contradiction into a main one.


There are organic ties between Al-Qaeda and most of the political opposition fronts domestically and abroad. This reminds one of the American policy in Afghanistan through support offered to Al-Qaeda, while it is now wagering on sealing a deal with it before exiting this country. Yet, the near and distant historical experiences all confirm that this network has its own agenda, and that any agreement with it is pointless since it aims at exploiting international and regional balances to serve its own global terrorism plan.


It seems - based on this repeated experience – that the West masters the use of sectarian terrorism to deplete the resistance and liberation forces in the Arab and Muslim countries. In the meantime, the people and free movements keep falling in the trap of sectarian division, to the point where resistance to this cultural and media strife-fueled climate has become a priority for all.


A great responsibility that should be assumed by the Islamic Republic, Hezbollah and the Islamic resistance in Palestine is to face this urgent threat by honestly dealing with the Syrian situation. The political standoff between the liberation powers and the colonial tools must be settled in favor of the forces opposed to colonial hegemony.         


The author is a journalist 

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