Qatar, Saudi Arabia go separate ways on Syria war: report

Qatar, Saudi Arabia go separate ways on Syria war: report
Sun Dec 15, 2013 19:24:08

Qatar and Turkey, the first two biggest supporters of the war in Syria to topple the government, have left Saudi Arabia, another funder of the war, alone in a major shift of policy, a new report suggests.

When the s-called Free Syrian Army(FSA) first came to light more than two years ago, the main financial backers and supporters were Qatar and Turkey, were leading efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, a report in the Al-Monitor said.

“Today the FSA seems to be having its worst days,” the report said referring to latest troubles the armed group has been facing, mainly due to taking in al-Qaeda-linked and extremist groups that have recently turned gun on them. 

The Al-Monitor’s report cited an Arab official from a country that used to be involved in the military support of the Syria conflict, saying that the main reason of recent changes was “a unified Turkish-Qatari decision to retreat from the Syrian mud after reaching a conclusion that the political solution might be the best choice not only for the Syrians but also for the region”.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity was quoted as saying that Qatar’s former king had good relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and their wives were friends. Even Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera didn’t start its anti-Assad coverage right at the beginning of the insurgency.

But Qatar soon turned to the opposite side because of a speech by Assad in the parliament at early stages of the insurgency which the source said wasn't welcomed by Doha.

Almost three years of bloodshed in Syria, more than 120,000 people dead, and the rise of al-Qaeda in Syria are giving the Qataris and the Turks a clear indication that what’s to come is worse: “Since the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, many things changed in the region; it was as if there’s a decision to make the group’s main allies in the region pay the price, and in Syria this was clear,” the official source elaborated.

“Groups backed by Saudi Arabia were battling the FSA more than they fought the government, not to mention al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria who have a completely different agenda.”

When the former emir of Qatar stepped down, there was an internal decision to review policies. “Qatar is a small country with a lot of potential," the source said. "There was a need to set priorities, development and business or politics, and the overwhelming answer was the first.” The source explained that this needed time, “with the help of main regional players in the region, and after arriving at a certain conclusion that there’s no real horizon in Syria, the decision was taken. Qatar stands by the Syrian people and will continue to help them, but it will help more in facilitating a peaceful end to the conflict.”

Qatar has been the biggest funder of war in Syria which started as pro-reform protests in 2011, but turned to into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional countries.

A report by the British Financial Times in May revealed that Doha government had spent more than 3 billion dollars to support anti-Syria war while Saudi Arabia was the second biggest supporter.


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