Gulf State Jihad in Syria

John Glaser, October 17, 2012

This week the New York Times published an article confirming what we at Antiwar.com have been warning about for months: “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists,” according to top US officials and Middle East diplomats.

This has been known for some time. While the Obama administration has provided Syrian rebels with tens of millions of dollars, communications gear, intelligence, etc., US allies in the Persian Gulf like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait have sent in weapons. But this was a coordinated effort: President Obama sent dozens of CIA agents to the Turkish border in order to facilitate the delivery of weapons from the Gulf states to rebels.

All along, they claimed they had a proper vetting process which allowed them to pick and choose which of Syria’s disparate, unorganized rebel groups would receive the assistance, and avoid the thousands of jihadist fighters, many of whom are fighting under the banner of al-Qaeda. But this was a farce. A US official told the Washington Post early on that the CIA knew very little about who was receiving US support, nor could they control exactly where it ended up. “It’s still the case that without actual access to Syria, it’s hard to know exactly who they are,” the official said. The New York Times also reported that the Obama administration has been “increasing aid to the rebels” even though “we don’t really know” who is receiving it.

“The evidence is mounting that Syria has become a magnet for Sunni extremists, including those operating under the banner of Al Qaeda,” reported the New York Times almost four months ago. “The presence of jihadists in Syria has accelerated in recent days in part because of a convergence with the sectarian tensions across the country’s long border in Iraq.” Many other news reports corroborated these findings. Foreign jihadists “intent on turning Syria into an autocratic theocracy have swollen the ranks of rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad,” Reuters reported in September.

Exactly how much of the aid from the Gulf states is coordinated with the US and how much is done on their own initiative is hard to know. But Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait are supposed to be client states. The great thrust of America’s Grand Strategy in the Middle East is about propping up these Gulf dictatorships so that they conform to US demands on key strategic issues. How is it that Washington is helping deliver lethal aid from our allies in the Gulf to nefarious insurgent groups of the same type that were labeled “terrorists” when fighting against US forces in Iraq?

“As it has in other conflicts throughout the Muslim world,” writes Frank J. Mirkow, a Washington, DC based international attorney who has lived in Saudi Arabia for several years, Saudi Arabia is aiming to bolster “those elements of the opposition whose aims are limited to the establishment of a narrowly defined Sunni, Salafist government, one that takes its religious inspiration from the Wahabi government in Riyadh.”

The irony of all this was pointed out boldly by renowned Middle East journalist Robert Fisk not long ago. “President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria,” Fisk wrote. “But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world.”

“Rulers of both states inherit power from their families – just as Bashar has done – and Saudi Arabia is an ally of the Salafist-Wahabi rebels in Syria, just as it was the most fervent supporter of the medieval Taliban during Afghanistan’s dark ages,” he added.

US-Saudi interests were similarly aligned back when the Soviets invaded and occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s. The CIA funneled money to the mujahideen through Pakistan while Saudi Arabia – its Gulf neighbors in lock-step – contributed money, weapons, and actual fighters to join in the insurgency. As former State Department advisor Aaron David Miller has recognized the Syria situation could have similarly dangerous consequences. “We saw the blowback in Afghanistan, where Saudi-inspired Wahhabi doctrine motivated a cadre of Arabs to fight first against the Russians and then against the West,” he wrote. Former Middle East analyst at the CIA, Paul Pillar, has also made this connection.

US policy in Afghanistan in the 1980s is now almost universally looked upon as shortsighted in the context of the blowback America later reaped because of it. What we’re doing in Syria may attract similar consequences. These are the makings of blowback. These are the ingredients of the unintended consequences preached about by everybody who managed to say “I told you so,” following the September 11th attacks.

But perceived geo-political interests too often trump common sense. Washington has long had the Syrian regime on its sights for regime change. They’re eager to take advantage of the conflict to shape a post-Assad government to their own liking, hubris be damned. It appears that the most hazardous aspect of the foreign component of the Syria conflict – radical Sunni authoritarian monarchies – are being let loose to shape the conflict to be the next jihad. And decades of nefarious alliances with these regimes are taking a front seat to US interests.

In election seasons, the two parties toe the line even more than usual. And since both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney largely agree that we ought to be aiding unscrupulous rebels in Syria, repeating the mistake of a generation ago, the arguments against doing so are excluded from the debate. And that’s not in anybody’s interest.




20 Responses to “Gulf State Jihad in Syria”

  1. The US is the puppet of the Gulf monarchies, because its politicians depend upon Arab gold to get elected. The Jihadi tail is wagging the American dog, as has happened since Raygun Ron was replaced by Bush the Elder. The solution in Syria is for the US is to do nothing. The evil jihadis will win anyway, because they are fervently supported by the majority of Syrians. When the Syrians get bored with killing each other and decide to amuse themselves by murdering Americans, the taxpayers dollars at present wasted on helping one side or the other can be more sensibly spent on drones to kill those Syrians who survive.

  2. YOU AND I HAVE A REZDENVOUS WITH DESTINY" A TIME FOR CHOOSING 10 27 1964 THE COLD WAR WAS NEVER OVER! NOW LET'S SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT‏
    Hotmail Active ViewU.S Armed Forces – We Must Fight – President Reagan (HD)
    Go to YouTube Play video LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE & SUBSCRIBE ? ? ? US Armed Forces "A Time For Choosing" Speech By 40th President of the United States of America Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 — June 5, 2004) ? ?…00:03:07Added on 2/19/121,153,780 views
    We forget our own history so fast we need to keep forwarding it through the internet least we forget . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpH5L8zCtSk&fe
    “ A Time For Choosing” Ronald Reagan 40thPresident of the United States of America…10-27-1964 Now let’s set the record straight………..there’s no argument over the choice between peace and war…..but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace , and you can have it in the next second ………….

  3. Hotmail Active ViewU.S Armed Forces – We Must Fight – President Reagan (HD)

    Go to YouTube
    Play video
    LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE & SUBSCRIBE ? ? ? US Armed Forces "A Time For Choosing" Speech BSurrender……..admittedly there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this……but every lesson of history tells us, that the greater risk ….lies in appeasement……..and this is the specter our well meaning liberal friends refuse to face ,that their policies of accommodation are appeasement ,…..and it gives no choice of peace and war only between fight or surrender…If we continue to accommodate , continue to back and retreat eventually we have to face the final demand the ultimatum and what then ? When Nikita Kruchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be, he has told them that we’re retreating under the pressure of the Cold war,…. and some day………

  4. when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum our surrender will be voluntary ….….because by that time we will be weakened from within ………..spiritually, morally, and economically…… he believes this because from our side he’s heard voices pleading for peace at any price, or better Red than Dead, or as one commentater put it ….He’d rather live on his knees than die on his feet
    And therein lies the road to war because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us….You and I know …..and do not believe ….that life is so dear and peace so sweet……. as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery….
    If nothing in life is worth dying for , …….then when did this begin …….

  5. Just in the face of this enemy…..? or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the Pharohs ..? Should Christ have refused the Cross? Should the Patriots at Concord bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire …..The shot heard around the world.? The martyrs of history were not fools and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazi’s. Did not die in vain. Where then is the road to Peace ……..Well , it’s a simple answer after all….. you and I must have the courage to say to our enemies …….there is a price we will not pay! there is a point beyond which they must not advance!………

  6. Winston Churchill said “ The destiny of man is not measured in material computations…when great forces are on the move in the world we learn we are spirits ….not animals…he said There’s something going on in time and space…..and beyond time and space ,which whether we like it or not … spells Duty!…..You and I have a rendezvous with Destiny !…..We’ll preserve for our children This…. the last best hope for man on earth or we’ll sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness…………..

  7. .You and I have a rendezvous with Destiny !…..We’ll preserve for our children This…. the last best hope for man on earth or we’ll sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness…………..

    " Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one."
    “ A Time For Choosing”
    ( October 27 1964 )
    Ronald Reagan 40th President of The United States of America
    1981-1989
    ?THE GREATEST SPEECH EVER WRITTEN……..

    wake up America we are being taken from within………..even ronald wilson reagan was a democrat until he saw the light and became an instrument of God!

    1936……..A GREAT AMERICAN DEMOCRAT AL SMITH WALKED AWAY

  8. last and final word………….Freedom has Never been Free . It was paid for by the blood of my families for over 200 years ………….please do not ………dishonor them any further, for to do so to me is high treason.

  9. THe filthy allawites in syria were put in power by the French, the poor Syrian people had no power to say oherwise and after their rule, decades of oppression was put on the sunnis who are 80% of the population and now the Sunnis are taking what is theirs. Why does antiwar.com ignore that iran and russia are supplying the filthy bashar gov't with weapons? This website is pathetic, you bash the rebels and stay silent about the butcher. How would you americans like it if the minority mexicans in america ruled america butchering its people and then having antiwar.com telling you that the american rebels who dont take that are foreign funded terrorists. FILTHY WEBSITE THIS IS

  10. How is it that Washington is helping deliver lethal aid from our allies in the Gulf to nefarious insurgent groups of the same type that were labeled “terrorists” when fighting against US forces in Iraq?

  11. Those that whisper in Obama's ear do not want a democratic ME. They want it destabilized.

  12. “As it has in other conflicts throughout the Muslim world,” writes Frank J. Mirkow, a Washington, DC based international attorney who has lived in Saudi Arabia for several years, Saudi Arabia is aiming to bolster “those elements of the opposition whose aims are limited to the establishment of a narrowly defined Sunni, Salafist government, one that takes its religious inspiration from the Wahabi government in Riyadh.”wedding limo

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