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Most of the weapons being sent from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Syrian rebels are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists as opposed to secular opposition groups that the West wants to strengthen, American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats told David Sanger of the New York Times. In 2011 the U.S. sold $33.4 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and $1.7 billion to Qatar as sales tripled to a record high and accounted for nearly 78 per cent of all global arms sales.
So although the U.S. is not sending arms directly to rebels, most of the weapons being sent by Saudi Arabia and Qatar were purchased from the U.S. and are being funneled to the opposition by the CIA.
“The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” one American official familiar with the situation told the New York Times.
But if the U.S. may not have much of a choice if it wants to see Assad fall because a pro-opposition Middle Eastern diplomat told Senger that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has “failed to assemble a clear military plan, [lacks] a coherent blueprint for governing Syria afterward if the Assad government fell, and [quarrels] too often among themselves” while the Islamist rebel brigades are the best rebel fighters and recently decided to join forces.
A March article by the Brookings Institution noted that “a key step” for U.S. or allied-armed opposition victory would be to make the opposition “more coherent” before arming them.
Without that initial coherence, arming the opposition has led to reports of “Islamist rebels buying weapons in large quantities and then burying them in caches, to be used after the collapse of the Assad government,” as Sanger notes.
Consequently, as we noted last week and American officials now acknowledge, the successful toppling of Assad may lead to armed and organised brigades of jihadist rebels competing for influence in the power vacuum that Syria would become.