Murphy's Law: Syria Becomes The Arab Shame

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December 10, 2013: In Syria Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies continue to be the main source of rebel weapons and other military supplies. Despite American promises last June to provide military aid for the rebels, not much has shown up because of American fears that some of the aid will reach Islamic terrorist groups. Some of anything sent into Syria for the rebels gets to Islamic terrorist rebels as these groups continue to be the most effective fighters (they are fanatic and willing to die, even if often less skilled than moderate rebels) and will steal if they are not offered some of the aid. The Saudi solution to this unfortunate (in Saudi eyes) lack of American action is to try and form a well trained and equipped rebel “army” in Jordan. American and NATO trainers have been helping out, but the number of volunteers has not been great. The Saudi plan was to create a trained rebel force of 50,000 men but so far only a few thousand volunteers have been obtained. Recruiting was done mainly in Arabia, as the Saudis wanted men who were more likely to be loyal to their sponsors (the Arabs of Arabia).

One unsurmountable problem is obtaining sufficient trainers. The Saudis sought permission to recruit Pakistani soldiers to be trainers and combat support specialists for the new rebel army. Pakistan was attracted to the prospect of some high paying jobs, but ultimately forbade Pakistanis to participate because Iran made it clear that retribution would be certain and severe if Pakistan helped to support the Syrian rebels. While Pakistan has only a small border with Iran, in centuries past most of Pakistan was part of one Iranian empire or another. Staying on good terms with Iran was preferable to making the Saudis happy.

The Gulf Arabs have lots of money and entrepreneurial merchants capable of obtaining legitimate and black market weapons for the Syrian rebels, along with food and other supplies. But despite a glorious, and occasionally spectacularly successful military history, the Arabs have been unable to muster much in the way of effective military forces to aid the rebels. What forces they do have are aimed at the Iranians, who even in their threadbare state are still seen as a potent threat to Arabia and Arabian oil. The besieged Assad government of Syria has long been a loyal and useful client of Iran, as has been the Hezbollah militia next door. It is humiliating for the Saudis and other Arab states to see Syria as an Iranian pawn and Lebanon neutralized by a pro-Iranian Hezbollah army in southern Lebanon. But the Arabs just cannot seem to get it together militarily, and Syria is making that painfully clear to all concerned.

 


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