Saudi Arabian involvement in the Syrian civil war
Since the summer of 2013, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the main group to finance and arm the rebels. Saudi Arabia
has financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia
via shipments shuttled through Jordan
.The weapons began reaching rebels in December 2012 which allowed rebels' small tactical gains against the Syrian army.
In August 2017, the Syrian opposition was informed by the Saudi foreign minister that the Kingdom was disengaging from them.
Subsequently, Saudi Arabia has taken a more conciliatory stance towards the Syrian government.
anti-tank weapon purchased by Saudi Arabia from Croatia for use in the Syrian Civil War
In December 2012, a new wave of weapons from foreign supporters were transferred to rebel forces via the Jordanian border in the country's south. The arms included M79 Osa
anti-tank weapons and Yugoslav
-made M-60 recoilless rifles
purchased by Saudi Arabia from Croatia. Previously, most of the weapons were delivered via the Turkish border in the north. The goal for the change in routes was to strengthen moderate rebels and to support their push towards Damascus.
This shipment was also said to be to counter shipments of weapons from Iran
to aid the Syrian government.
Saudi Arabia was involved in the CIA
–led Timber Sycamore
covert operation to train and arm Syrian rebels. A classified US State Department
cable signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
reported that Saudi donors were a major support for Sunni
militant forces globally, and some American officials worried that Syrian rebels being supported had ties to Al Qaeda
Bandar bin Sultan
In August 2013 the Wall Street Journal
reported that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan
had been appointed to lead Saudi Arabia's efforts to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad
, and that the US Central Intelligence Agency
considered this a sign of how serious Saudi Arabia was about this aim. Bandar was described as "jetting from covert command centers near the Syrian front lines to the Élysée Palace
and the Kremlin
, seeking to undermine the Assad regime." After tensions with Qatar
over supplying rebel groups, Saudi Arabia switched its efforts from Turkey to Jordan in 2012, using its financial leverage over Jordan to develop training facilities there, overseen by Bandar's half-brother Salman bin Sultan
. In late 2012 Saudi intelligence also began efforts to convince the US that the Assad government was using chemical weapons.
The Assyrian International News Agency
reported that Saudi government also would be sending prisoners sentenced to death to fight in Syria.
According to an opinion piece by journalist Patrick Cockburn
, former head of MI6
, Richard Dearlove
revealed he was told Bandar's intentions, claiming the Prince had told him "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them." Dearlove has expressed his view that "Saudi Arabia is involved in the ISIS-led Sunni rebellion".
Support for rebel factions
is an Islamist rebel alliance based in the eastern suburbs of Damascus
, led by Zahran Alloush
, the son of Saudi-based religious scholar Abdullah Mohammed Alloush. Its creation was said to have been negotiated and spearheaded by Saudi Arabia
, who believed that al-Nusra Front
was gaining too much strength.
After the alliance was formed in September 2013, The Guardian reported that Saudi Arabia was preparing to give the group millions of dollars to "arm and train" its fighters,ref name=Guardian7Nov>"Syria crisis: Saudi Arabia to spend millions to train new rebel force"
. The Guardian
. 7 November 2013. Archived
from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.</ref> and use instructors from Pakistan to help train the group.
Free Syrian Army
Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement
In January 2014, Nour al-Din al-Zenki was one of the founding factions in the anti-ISIL
umbrella group Army of Mujahideen
In May 2014 it withdrew from the alliance and subsequently received increased financial support from Saudi Arabia, which had been reluctant to support the Army of Mujahideen due to its links with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood
On 9 May 2016, a plan was reportedly proposed by the US, Turkey
, Saudi Arabia
, and Qatar
to have the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement form a "Northern Army".
However, the plan was delayed due to doubts from U.S. officials about the capabilities of the Syrian rebel forces that Turkey had recruited to fight with its military, the opposition from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces
, and the rift between Turkey and Russia that had only been mended in early August 2016.
Army of Conquest
In 2015, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar received criticism from Western media for backing rebels associated with the Army of Conquest
, which includes the al-Nusra
front, an al-Qaeda
November 2015 escalation
Silk Airlines weapons transfers
In July 2017, an investigation by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva
in Bulgarian daily newspaper Trud
found that Azerbaijani
state-owned Silk Way Airlines
exploited a loophole
in the international aviation and transport regulations to offer flights to arms manufacturers and private companies in 2016-17, with much of the cargo heading for Syria, and some ending up in the hands of ISIL
and Kurdish fighters. The published documents included correspondence between the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Bulgaria with attached documents for weapons deals and diplomatic clearance for overflight and/or landing in Bulgaria and other countries, including Saudi Arabia. The documents disclosed that American weapons manufacturers had shipped over $1 billion of weapons through Silk Way Airlines, corporate subcontractors included ″Purple Shovel LLC″ based in Sterling, Virginia
, US Department of Defense subcontracting vehicle ″Culmen International LLC″ based in Alexandria
, weapons and defense procurement firm ″Chemring Military Products″ based in Perry, Florida
. When Silk Way Airlines did not have enough available planes, Azerbaijan's Air Force jets would transport the military shipments. In the investigation the reporter accused
responsible authorities of many countries (Israel, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Turkey, as well as to the militaries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, the military forces of Germany and Denmark in Afghanistan and of Sweden in Iraq, and the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)) to "have turned a blind eye and allowed diplomatic flights for the transport of tons of weapons, carried out by civil aircraft [sic] for military needs."
Syrian Democratic Forces
As of early 2018 after the election of US President Donald Trump
and other opposition groups losing ground, Saudi Arabia began talks with Arab factions in the Syrian Democratic Forces
. The Kingdom also coordinated with the United States in its support for SDF after US President Trump suggested an end to American military presence in Syria, to be replaced with an Arab force made up of Saudi Arabia, Qatar
, the United Arab Emirates
. however Egypt rejected the idea,
since reaching out to Arab affiliated SDF groups Saudi Arabia has set up recruitment centers offering new recruits the equivalent of $200, Saudi Arabia has also set up two communications checkpoints in Qamshili and Hasakah.
Groups known to have receive Saudi support
- ^ Saudi edges Qatar to control Syrian rebel support retrieved 6 June 2013
- ^ a b c Chivers, C. J.; Schmitt, Eric (26 February 2013). "In Shift, Saudis Are Said to Arm Rebels in Syria". New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
- ^ "Victory for Assad looks increasingly likely as world loses interest in Syria". The Guardian. 31 August 2017.
- ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syria-and-saudi-arabia-to-potentially-reconcile-after-uae-reopens-damascus-embassy/
- ^ Sly, Liz; DeYoung, Karen (23 February 2013). "In Syria, new influx of weapons to rebels tilts the battle against Assad". Washington Post.
- ^ Chivers, C. J.; Schmitt, Eric (25 February 2013). "Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms". The New York Times.
- ^ Mazzetti, Mark; Apuzzo, Matt (January 23, 2016). "U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
- ^ Adam Entous, Nour Malas and Margaret Coker, Wall Street Journal, 25 August 2013, A Veteran Saudi Power Player Works To Build Support to Topple Assad
- ^ Cooke, Shamus (21 January 2013). "Report: Saudis sent death-row inmates to fight Syria". USA Today. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- ^ Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped ISIS take over the north of the country : A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, The Independent, 14-07-15
- ^ "Insight: Saudi Arabia boosts Salafist rivals to al Qaeda in Syria". Reuters. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- ^ "Saudi Arabia's Shadow War". Foreign Policy. 6 November 2013. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- ^ "Rebels push forward in southern Syria". AP NEWS. 2014-11-28. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- ^ "The rise and ugly fall of a moderate Syrian rebel offers lessons for the West". Washington Post. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- ^ Yehuda U. Blanga (Winter 2017). "Saudi Arabia's Motives in the Syrian Civil War" (PDF). Middle East Policy. XXIV (4).
- ^ "Syria's Secular and Islamist Rebels: Who Are the Saudis and the Qataris Arming?". Time Magazine. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- ^ Pierret, Thomas (9 August 2013). "External support and the Syrian insurgency". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
- ^ Charles Lister, Yes, there are 70,000 moderate opposition fighters in Syria. Here’s what we know about them, The Spectator, 27 November 2015
- ^ Guide to the Syrian rebels, BBC, 13 December 2013
- ^ "The Mujahedeen Army of Aleppo". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 8 April 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- ^ "Rigged Cars and Barrel Bombs: Aleppo and the State of the Syrian War" (PDF). International Crisis Group. 9 September 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- ^ "Proposed 'Northern Army' in Syria alienates Kurds". The Arab Weekly. 22 May 2016.
- ^ "Putin mends broken relations with Turkey′s Erdoğan". BBC. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- ^ Kim Sengupta (12 May 2015). "Turkey and Saudi Arabia alarm the West by backing Islamist extremists the Americans had bombed in Syria". The Independent.
- ^ Saudi support to rebels slows Assad attacks: pro-Damascus sources, Reuters, 06-11-15
- ^ 350 diplomatic flights carry weapons for terrorists, Trud, 2. July 2017
- ^ Harut Sassounian: The U.S. and Europe Must Investigate Azerbaijani Shipments of Weapons to Terrorists, The Armenian Weekly, 11 July 2017
- ^ Report: Saudi, UAE weapons end up with armed groups, Al Jazeera, 27 August 2017
- ^ http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/why-arab-stabilisation-force-syria-won-t-work-1026796721
- ^ https://www.trtworld.com/mea/saudi-arabia-in-talks-with-sdf-to-form-new-force-in-northern-syria-17900
- ^ http://www.newsweek.com/trumps-new-army-saudi-arabia-talks-build-syria-arab-force-reports-say-950023
Last edited on 29 April 2021, at 15:16
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