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Angered by U.S. inaction, Saudis works with Jordan to arm, train Syrian rebels

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia plans to expand weapons supplies and training of Syrian rebels in Jordan.

The Washington Post reported that Saudi Arabia has pulled away from the
United States to help the Sunni revolt against Syrian President Bashar
Assad. The U.S. daily said the Saudi efforts included increased arms and
training to the rebels based in Jordan.

Syrian rebels training in Jordan.

Syrian rebels training in Jordan.

“Instead, 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, according to Gulf officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve comity with the United States,” the newspaper said.

In a report on Nov. 3, the Post said Saudi Arabia was leading a Gulf Cooperation Council drive to rescue the Sunni revolt from the Syrian military. The newspaper, quoting Gulf officials, said Riyad was angered by the reversal of President Barack Obama, who in August 2013 announced he would attack the regime of President Bashar Assad in wake of its chemical weapons attack around Damascus. Officials said Saudi Arabia was not told of Obama’s decision to suspend the attack.

“When you commit to something and then you don’t deliver on it, that’s
when you have a problem,” a Saudi official was quoted as saying. “It is an
accumulation of these type of cases, incidents, and on and on.”

Over the last few months, Saudi Arabia was said to have engaged in a
rapproachment with Israel. A senior Israeli analyst said all of the GCC
states with the exception of Qatar shared Israel’s concern over U.S. policy
toward Iran.

“The de facto, unseen alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the GCC
countries is one of the most intriguing structures currently emerging amid
the whirling chaos of the Middle East,” Jonathan Spyer, a senior research
fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs, said.

The Saudi decision came after more than two years of cooperating with
the United States on Syria. But the officials said GCC states regard Obama
as a supporter of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Unhappiness over Syria is only one element of what officials said are
varying degrees of disenchantment in the region with much of the
administration’s Middle East policy, including its nuclear negotiations with
Iran and criticism of Egypt’s new government,” the Post said.

On Nov. 3, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia
for his first meeting with King Abdullah. But Gulf officials said they did
not expect Kerry’s visit to break down the wall of distrust between Riyad
and Washington.

“I have great confidence that the United States and Saudi Arabia will
continue to be the close and important friends and allies that we have
been,” Kerry said.

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