The Guardian’s reporting team has a good run-down today on how the Free Syria Army, far from being free, is now a proxy regime change force for Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the US. The Saudis are to to pay the FSA salaries (in Euros or Dollars, even), ensuring their paymaster status gives them considerable leverage. Quatar is providing weapons, Turkey is providing safe haven for a command centre in Istanbul and storage for Qatar’s weapons until they can be distributed. The US role is to co-ordinate all these activities from behind a pretty thin curtain.
Diplomatic sources have told the Guardian two US intelligence officers were in Syria’s third city of Homs between December and early February, trying to establish command and control within rebel ranks.
Interviews with officials in three states reveal the influx of weapons ”“ which includes kalashnikovs, rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles ”“ started in mid-May, when Saudi Arabia and Qatar finally moved on pledges they had made in February and March to arm rebel forces.
The officials, who insisted on anonymity, said the final agreement to move weapons from storage points inside Turkey into rebel hands was hard won, with Ankara first insisting on diplomatic cover from the Arab states and the US.
That two of this quartet of facillitators and paymasters are not even democracies, have their own massive problems with internal dissent cruelly supressed and are hardline Sunni states eyeing a Sunni/Shiite battle with Iran for regional power does not bode well for future stability or the chance of a democratic Syria post-Assad. The U.S. is playing a dangerous game here with unreliable allies.