'With or without West': Saudi Arabia ready for unilateral action on Syria
Saudi Arabia intends to pursue an independent policy in the Arab world after the US resorted to a diplomatic solution to the Syria and Iran crises. The Saudi envoy to UK says the kingdom is ready to ensure “regional peace” without Western support.
The kingdom’s ambassador to London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, said that the Western approach to the region is a “dangerous gamble” that jeopardizes stability in the Middle East.
Instead Riyadh, a geopolitical rival of Iran and Syria, wants to independently arm the Syrian insurgents, saying the country “cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by,” Abdulaziz wrote in a New York Times commentary.
The prince accused the US coalition of allowing “one regime to survive and the other to continue its program for uranium enrichment, with all the consequent dangers of weaponization."
The accusations come despite global efforts, led by Russia and
the US, for a peaceful resolution to the drawn-out Syrian crisis.
The international community is placing high hopes on the Geneva-2
peace conference on Syria, scheduled for Jan. 22, which is set to
bring the sides of the Syrian conflict to the negotiation table.
They also follow recent critical statements by some Western politicians and media, saying Saudi Arabia has already been providing military support to the Syrian rebels and thus fueling the raging conflict in the Arab country.
In regards to Syria, Abdulaziz said that despite international effort to destroy the weapons of mass destruction the “West must see that the regime itself remains the greatest weapon of mass destruction of all.”
Saying that the kingdom has “global responsibilities,” Abdulaziz claimed that Riyadh “will act to fulfill these responsibilities, with or without the support of our Western partners.”
Despite standing “shoulder to shoulder” for years “this year, for all their talk of 'red lines,' when it counted, our partners have seemed all too ready to concede our safety and risk our region’s stability.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for “supplying weapons and equipment” to the rebels in Syria, as cited by Itar-Tass.
In November, The Washington Post citing senior Gulf officials, reported that Saudi Arabia was trying to independently provide military support to the rebels after previously aligning itself with US interests in the region.
“The Saudis plan to expand training facilities they operate in Jordan and increase the firepower of arms sent to rebel groups that are fighting extremist elements among them even as they battle the Syrian government,” the paper reported.
Tuesday’s report by International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College estimated that over 1,000 Saudi fighters are fighting with the radicals in Syria from a total number of some 11 thousand, including many EU nationals.
The top five countries-contributors are all in the Middle East: with up to 2,089 from Jordan, followed by Saudi Arabia (1,016), Tunisia (970), Lebanon (890), and Libya (556).
But, according to The Washington Post, negotiations were also under way between several Gulf countries of setting up a “parallel operation” independent of the US.
Media reports said that Western diplomats hinted during a summit of opposition backers in London last week that they don’t really mind if Syrian President Bashar Assad stays in power, at least during a transition period.
“Our Western friends made it clear in London that Assad cannot be allowed to go now because they think chaos and an Islamist militant takeover would ensue,” an unnamed senior member of the Syrian National Coalition, close to officials from Saudi Arabia, told Reuters.
“Some do not even seem to mind if he runs again next year,” the source told Reuters, wondering whether the West has forgotten that Assad “gassed his own people.”
A rift between the US-Saudi Arabian foreign policy was relevant on Sunday, when a former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki al-Faisal, voiced concern that Saudi Arabia is being isolated from the diplomatic negotiations with Iran.
“It is important for us to sit down at the same table,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “We have been absent.” Speaking at World Policy Conference in Monaco same day he said, "What was surprising was that the talks that were going forward were kept from us.”"How can you build trust when you keep secrets from what are supposed to be your closest allies?"
Meanwhile, Russia and US continue their joint effort to stage the Geneva-2 conference in January.
Abu Mohammed al Joulani, the leader of the Al-Nusra Front of up to 20,000 fighters, in an interview to Al Jazeera said that his group would not accept the outcome of the Geneva conference. The leader also cautioned Saudi Arabia against recently improved relations between the US and Iran.
“We will not recognize any results that come out of the Geneva-2 Conference, nor will the children or women of Syria. Those taking part in the conference do not represent the people who sacrificed and shed blood. Besides, who has authorized them to represent the people?”
“If the Assad regime remained in power, which is in the interest of the super powers and the Safavids, then the next target will be the Arabian Peninsula, now known as Saudi Arabia,” Joulani said.
Less than a week ago, jihadists from the Al-Nusra Front captured the town of Adra some 20 kilometers north of Damascus and carried out a brutal massacre of civilians. RT reported from the massacre site with witness accounts which tell horrific stories of people being burned alive and children slaughtered.