US and Qatar arm rival militant gangs in Syria amid slow delivery of arms
Despite US pledges of arming foreign-backed insurgents in Syria, such aid has not yet materialized amid reports that American Arab ally Qatar is arming radical factions that rival the “moderate” ones that Washington plans to arm.
Pointing to American troubles in preventing its arms to fall into the hands of “extremists” such as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra front, US daily New York Times further reports Sunday that Washington’s key Persian Gulf ally Qatar “is suspected” of supplying weapons to “more hard-line” groups in Syria, “despite assurances to the contrary from Qatari officials.
According to the report, while the Obama administration officials profess confidence that they can arm one segment of anti-Damascus militants without aiding other insurgents that the US has identified as linked to terrorist organizations, they “face a daunting task of preventing arms from falling into the hands of extremists.”
For nearly two years, says the report, “a fractious coalition of Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, has supplied the rebels with weapons.”
These US-backed countries, however, have been “eager” for the United States to take a direct role in arming the foreign-backed Takfiri insurgents in Syria.
Furthermore, the report insists, citing “interviews with American, Western and Middle Eastern officials,” the US government’s plans to send weapons to anti-Assad forces in a bid to turn the tide of the foreign-backed war in favor of the insurgents “are far more limited than it has indicated in public and private.”
These officials say that the administration’s plans “to use the CIA to covertly train and arm the rebels could take months to have any impact on a chaotic battlefield.”
US plans call for the CIA to supply only small weapons, and to just a limited segment of the foreign-backed militants fighting the Damascus government.
Moreover, the US military training of the insurgent force, “which is to take place over months in Jordan and Turkey,” has not even started due to objections raised by American lawmakers.
This is while to many Obama administration officials the plan to send weapons to militants in Syria “carries echoes of previous American efforts to arm rebels in Angola, Nicaragua and elsewhere, many of which backfired,” according to the report.
There is also fear among White House officials that President Barack Obama may be dragged into yet another war in the Middle East.
The report further states that although American officials “have ruled out supplying antiaircraft weapons to the rebels for fear they might get into the hands of terrorists who could use them to shoot down commercial aircraft,” senior officials of US Arab allies insist that they “would eventually work out a plan to deliver antiaircraft weapons to the rebels.”
The development comes as the Syrian military, backed by Lebanese-based Hezbollah Islamic resistance movement, has scored major victories against the foreign-backed militants in the country, cutting of some of their key supply routes.
This is while recent reports indicate that rival factions of anti-Damascus insurgents in Syria are fighting among each other.
In an interview with Syrian daily Al-Thawra published on July 4, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the opposition and their foreign supporters have “exhausted all their tools” in a conspiracy against Syria.
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