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Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.
WASHINGTON – Saudi Arabia, the leader of Sunni Islam, is making an increased effort to aid the opposition to the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite whose tribe is an offshoot of Shi’ism, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Saudi kingdom sees the Syrian regime as a threat to the other Arab countries in the region due to its close ties with Iran, which is the bastion of Shi’ite Islam.
The Saudis fear that Iran is instigating Shi’ite minorities in the various Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, to demonstrate against their Sunni rulers. For the Saudis, the Shi’ite minority is a majority in an eastern province of the kingdom where much of its oil production takes place.
As a consequence, Riyadh sees any insurrection in this province as a challenge to its very existence.
Informed regional sources say that the Saudis continue to assist an opposition whose ranks are increasingly being bolstered by the Sunni Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and now are encouraging elements of al-Qaida from Syria’s neighbor, Iraq, to join forces with the opposition.
Such assistance has been backed publicly now by Pakistani-based al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who similarly is encouraging al-Qaida cells in predominantly Sunni provinces bordering Syria to launch attacks against the Syrian regime.
Al-Zawahiri has issued a similar call for al-Qaida cells in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Sources say that al-Qaida was behind the recent car bombings in Aleppo, Syria, which always has been a haven for al-Qaida and was tolerated by al-Assad, until now.
The West, including the United States, backs the opposition. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with her European Union counterpart, Catherine Ashton, called for supporting forces opposed to al-Assad.
While Clinton said the assistance will be in the form of humanitarian aid and looking for ways to strengthen the opposition – a euphemism for providing arms and money – former U.S. officials who pressed for U.S. action in Iraq in March 2003 also are calling for money and arms assistance to the opposition.
One such person is Elliott Abrams, who was Middle East adviser on the National Security Council under former President George Bush.
“The question now, really, is who is going to win – the Russian, Chinese, Iranian side backing Hezbollah, backing Assad? Or the other side, which includes the Saudis, the Turks, the Europeans, the Arab League, the GCC and us?” Abrams asked.
He was referring to the recent veto by Russia and China of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s violent reaction to the opposition, whose members also are shooting at the Syrian military.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Levrov said that the resolution didn’t call for a halt to the shooting by the opposition, which has received arms from outside the country and is being joined by the Syrian Free Army,
Syrian military forces who have defected to the opposition took their arms with them. The GCC is the Sunni Gulf Cooperation Countries which, in addition to Saudi Arabia, include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Abrams emphasized the opposition needs financing and arms “right now.”
With Russia backing the al-Assad regime, however – and there is no indication that it is going to stand down from that support – U.S. involvement against the Syrian regime in yet another Middle East conflict reinforces concerns among analysts of a renewed Cold War with Moscow.
Such U.S. involvement also has another possible outcome: It arguably aids al-Qaida and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in their quest to spread Islamist militancy across the Middle East and North Africa.
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