Which Came First: The Radicalization, the Armed Jihadists, or the Monarchs Supporting “Democracy”?

There have been a series of reports on Syria that culminate in today’s report that most of the arms being shipped to Syria have gone to jihadists.

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, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.

There were the reports of a different approach adopted by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the former preferring to arm Islamists and the latter showing more concern about the consequences.

Another growing problem is a lack of co-ordination between Qatar and the Saudis – the likely subject of Wednesday’s talks in Doha between the Emir and the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar. King Abdullah is said to be growing impatient with the difficulties of the Syrian crisis. According to Syrian opposition activists, the Saudis now sponsor only rebel groups which are at odds with those backed by Qatar and Turkey, which are often linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The Qataris are much more proactive than the Saudis,” said one well-placed Arab source. “The Saudis are not interested in democracy, they just want to be rid of Bashar. They would be happy with a Yemeni solution that gets rid of the president and leaves the regime intact.”

Intelligence chiefs from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and France reportedly met in Turkey in early September along with the CIA director general, David Petraeus. But they apparently failed to reach agreement on a co-ordinated strategy.

US officials say the opaque nature of the opposition and the creeping presence of foreign jihadis are behind their pressure on Riyadh and Doha. “They have both been given a yellow light by the Americans,” said a Lebanese minister aligned to the Future movement. “The Saudis see yellow as yellow, but the Qataris have seen it as green.

And rebels are now blaming the delay in receiving arms on their own radicalization.

Majed al-Muhammad, the commander of a Syrian antigovernment fighting group, slammed his hand on his desk. “Doesn’t America have satellites?” he asked, almost shouting. “Can’t it see what is happening?”

A retired Syrian Army medic, Mr. Muhammad had reached the rank of sergeant major in the military he now fights against. He said he had never been a member of a party, and loathed jihadists and terrorists.

But he offered a warning to the West now commonly heard among fighters seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad: The Syrian people are being radicalized by a combination of a grinding conflict and their belief that they have been abandoned by a watching world.

If the West continues to turn its back on Syria’s suffering, he said, Syrians will turn their backs in return, and this may imperil Western interests and security at one of the crossroads of the Middle East.

I suspect–in addition to reporting on this classified intelligence so Mitt can use it in Tuesday’s debate (Sanger explicitly invokes the debate)–what we’re seeing is some preliminary blame-casting for blowback, even as the problems with arming loosely vetted militias becomes apparent in Libya.

Who could have imagined that asking a bunch of conservative monarchs to arm rebels to overthrow an Iranian ally would not result in the flowering of democracy?

All that said, because the blame here is going to be significant, I’m not entirely convinced by Saudi claims they’ve bowed to US caution on arms.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

6 Responses to Which Came First: The Radicalization, the Armed Jihadists, or the Monarchs Supporting “Democracy”?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
Emptywheel Twitterverse
JimWhiteGNV RT @TampaBayTK: Rarely does Rays news stun me. IMO, Joe is the best manager in every phase of the game I've ever seen. #saddayinTampaBay
4mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @emmaroller: Nina Pham gets a hug from Obama (Saul Loeb/Getty) http://t.co/n3DxQP5H0F
8mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @emmaroller: Nina Pham gets a hug from Obama (Saul Loeb/Getty) http://t.co/n3DxQP5H0F
9mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @anubiszz No no no. Even just bc of ease of public transportation, it cannot be considered in same breath as NYC's airports.
13mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @HanniFakhoury: It's not just the DEA; local cops need to follow Facebook's rules too: https://t.co/d823yno7s4 important post by @maassi
13mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @shrubfree Dunno. World class, some of them. Better than their airports and beer, surely.
15mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @attackerman Man, that is clever.
16mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @robert_mariani Yes. Tho I agree that Newark is the least unbelievably horrible and inadequate to a great city of the bunch.
17mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @attackerman The NSA surely just made a SPECIAL file of all your recent encrypted emails being kept forever to see what those say.
18mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Mind you, NYC's beer is not as badly unworthy of the greatness of the city as its airports are. But that's not saying much.
19mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel People people people. Obviously reason NYT did a snitty bit on @MattLaslo's pool report is bc NYC is a great city w/less than great beer.
22mreplyretweetfavorite
October 2012
S M T W T F S
« Sep   Nov »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031