provides intelligence and other support for weapons shipments to Syria
from Qatar and Saudi Arabia that go to Islamic
10/14/2012, “Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria,“ NY Times, David E. Sanger
“Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.
That conclusion, of which President Obama and other senior officials are aware from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict that has now claimed more than 25,000 lives, casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention
in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping
a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.
“The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” said one American official familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry.
The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists….
American officials have been trying to understand why hard-line Islamists have received the lion’s share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition
through the shadowy pipeline with roots in Qatar, and, to a lesser
degree, Saudi Arabia. The officials, voicing frustration, say there is
no central clearinghouse for the shipments, and no effective way of vetting the groups that ultimately receive them….
“We haven’t seen anyone step up
to take a leadership role for what happens after Assad,” the diplomat
said. “There’s not much of anything that’s encouraging. We should have lowered our expectations.”
The disorganization is strengthening the hand of Islamic extremist groups in Syria, some with ties or affiliations with Al Qaeda, he said: “The longer this goes on, the more likely those groups will gain strength.”…
Moreover, the rebels often adapt their language and appearance in ways they hope will appeal to those distributing weapons. For instance, many rebels have grown the long, scraggly beards favored by hard-line Salafi Muslims after hearing that
Qatar was more inclined to give weapons to Islamists.”…