Middle East

NY Times Quoting Officials: Petraeus Deeply Involved in Supplying Gunmen in Syria

wapensU.S. officials and Middle Eastern diplomats said that US President Barak Obama and senior officials of his administration are aware that the arms flow from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Syria arrives to the hands of hard-line “Islamic” jihadists.

In a news report published on Sunday under the title ” Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria,” the newspaper said that according to classified assessments of the crisis in Syria submitted to U.S. officials, ” the United States 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 shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists”.
The newspaper quoted officials of countries in the region as saying that director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus has been deeply involved in trying to steer the supply effort. The newspaper added that one Middle Eastern diplomat who has dealt extensively with the C.I.A. on the issue said that Petraeus’s goal was to oversee the process of “vetting, and then shaping, an opposition that the U.S. thinks it can work with.”
” According to American and Arab officials, the C.I.A. has sent officers to Turkey to help direct the aid, but the agency has been hampered by a lack of good intelligence about many rebel figures and factions,” NY Times said.
The newspaper questioned the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in Syria, adding that it is sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.
“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. Those problems were central concerns for Petraeus, when he traveled secretly to Turkey last month.” The newspaper reported.
The newspaper quoted a Middle Eastern diplomat whose government has supported the Syrian gunmen as saying that his country’s political leadership was discouraged by the lack of organization and the ineffectiveness of the disjointed Syrian opposition movement. The disorganization is strengthening the hand of Islamic extremist groups in Syria, some with ties or affiliations with Al Qaeda.
“In several towns along the Turkey-Syria border, rebel commanders can be found seeking weapons and meeting with shadowy intermediaries, in a chaotic atmosphere where the true identities and affiliations of any party can be extremely difficult to ascertain. 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. The Saudis and Qataris are themselves relying on intermediaries — some of them Lebanese — who have struggled to make sense of the complex affiliations of the rebels they deal with.” The newspaper concluded.

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