Gulf States to arm Syrian opposition?

Armed members of the Free Syrian Army are seen in the western border town of Zabadani in this undated still image taken from amateur video obtained by Reuters January 16, 2012 (Reuters / Amateur video via Reuters TV)
Gulf State opponents of the regime in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have reportedly come to an agreement to offer financial aid to Syria’s flagging opposition movement for the purchase of much-needed arms.

A secret meeting has been conducted between opposition leaders and Saudi and Qatari officials to discuss funding for the movement’s dwindling weapons supply.

The opposition has hit major stumbling blocks recently, having been unable to smuggle sufficient arms across Syria’s borders.

A Syrian dissident talking to the British newspaper The Times emphasized the importance of the agreement, saying that the Free Syria Army had received financial backing almost solely from independent donors.

“The Saudis are offering their support in any way,” he told.

Their support was further reaffirmed with the Saudi government’s announcement on Friday that it will recognize the Syrian National Council as the official representative of the country.

The rallying of Syria’s Gulf State neighbors comes at a crucial time, following the withdrawal from Syria of a number of Arab League monitors. Their mission had been highly criticized by the Syrian opposition and condemned as toothless.

With this in mind the rebels made an appeal to the international community to implement a no-fly zone and called on backers Jordan and Turkey to create buffer zones on the northern and southern borders to facilitate the flow of arms into the country.

The dissident also mentioned the possibility of Turkish-led raids on Syrian airbases and weapons stores.

Turkey has been a long-term supporter of the Free Syria Army, allegedly harboring and training rebels in the south of the country, in a veritable U-turn from its previous policy of friendship with Syria.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Than appealed to the international community to send troops into Syria to end the bloodshed earlier this month. Qatar was also the first Arab nation to offer support to the Libyan uprising that ousted Colonel Gaddafi and played a crucial role in supplying weapons to the rebel movement.

­Dr Ibrahim Alloush, a professor at Zaytouneh University in Jordan, has told RT that the arming and funding of the Syrian opposition comes mainly from the Arab Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and from Turkey and NATO.

“It is obvious that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are harboring an agenda of overthrowing the Syrian regime because it opposes Western political, military and cultural intervention in the region,” he said. “Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been sponsoring all kind of action, military action, around the region and not just Syria.”

Dr Alloush says that the point of this operation is to implode Syria socially so that there will not be any “central government that is able to fend off and protect the sovereignty of the country.”

“This is basically a replica of what took place in Libya with only one exception – that Russia so far has prevented NATO from having its way of having no-fly zones, buffer-zones and all kinds of zones that infringe on the sovereignty of Syria,” Alloush said.