Prince Bandar's Syria ambitions troubles Riyadh

Prince Bandar's Syria ambitions troubles Riyadh
Tue Aug 6, 2013 22:45:18

Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, is becoming problematic for Saudi Arabia as he has practically turned to a commander for militant groups fighting against Syria government.

Prince Bandar Bin Sultan is said to be conducting plans to alter the situation in Syria according to his interests and has been travelling to Washington, Moscow, Paris and London to meet his partners on the matter.

A report in the al-Akhbar wrote, the Saudi prince regularly trips to Turkey to manage flow of arms and backup forces to Syria and he goes to Jordan to persuade security agencies with incentives to cooperate with him against Syrian government.

The report says, Bandar is essentially the only member of the House of Saud to have a proactive diplomatic approach, with access to the major decision-making capitals of the world, from Washington to Moscow.

Bandar recently visited Moscow to negotiate in his capacity as the “Prince of the Mujahideen” in Syria, including those who hail from Chechnya, Dagestan, and the Caucasus in Russia’s backyard.

From Dagestan alone, more than a hundred fighters are enlisted in the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, which is active in northern Syria.

But Bandar himself represents a problem for Saudi. Unlike the calm diplomacy pursued by Riyadh – even if only superficially – Bandar usually has very unrealistic expectations.

His most recent experience of a military nature took place after Israel's 2006 assault on Lebanon, when Bandar convinced the Saudi king to bankroll a militia for Saad Hariri.

Some observers familiar with that experience say that Bandar spent more than $200 million to build this paramilitary force, only for the whole plan to meet a catastrophic defeat in less than 20 hours of fighting, in May 2008.

Despite his failures, Prince Bandar is still hoping to be able to go on with his ill-considered plans and according to the reports, it has been eight months that he has stepped up his support to the anti-Syria armed groups to reach what he thinks is a balance in the armed battle.

He has not said that he is going to change the condition totally in favor of the militants but he hopes to bring the situation to a “balance” which will not result in the Syrian government having the upper hands at the end.

Bandar has purported that the coming two months will see the efforts to train and arm the opposition start to bear fruit.

But the Saudi intelligence chief also spoke to his visitors about the difficulties he is facing, including the fragmentation of the fighters and the inability to train more than 300 rebels each month.
The war in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.

As the foreign-backed insurgency in Syria continues without an end in sight, the US government has boosted its political and military support to Takfiri extremists.

Washington has remained indifferent about warnings by Russia and other world powers about the consequences of arming militant groups.


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