Quotes: US MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Islamist threat at home forces Saudi rethink on Syria   Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Arab Times - 13/02/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - Arab Times) After serving for years as the main conduit for weapons and cash to rebels battling Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia is shifting its policy to contain the spread of Islamist militancy at home, diplomats and figures close to the goverment say. Riyadh is concerned that radicalism among rebels in Syria will boost al-Qaeda at home in Saudi Arabia, which suffered a blowback last decade when fighters from the network of Osama bin Laden - himself a Saudi - returned from jihad in Afghanistan. Saudi leaders are still determined to help rebels bring down Assad, an ally of their main rival Iran, but their heightened focus on security at home suggests they may temper some of the effort



In a striking sign of the change, King Abdullah last week issued a royal decree imposing prison terms of 3-20 years on Saudis who go abroad to fight. The change has also come at a moment when Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan - the architect of a Syria policy that has included training camps in Jordan and shipments of weapons and money - has lowered his public profile, diplomatic sources in the Gulf say. "Their Syria policy is getting very counter-terrorism focused," said a senior diplomatic source in the Gulf. "The Interior Ministry in particular is very worried about what's happening in Syria, as they should be," he added



Powerful Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef led the crushing of an al-Qaeda uprising in the kingdom in the last decade by Saudis who returned from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He later survived an assassination attempt by the group. "What happened in Syria is really causing problems for us," said Abdulrahman al-Hadlaq, head of the Interior Ministry's Ideological Security Directorate, which monitors online radicalism. He estimated there were between 1,000-2,000 Saudis in Syria, including both fighters and people distributing charity to refugees, and said he believed most were in groups aligned with al-Qaeda. Although Riyadh has discouraged its citizens from going to Syria, it was not until last week's royal decree that it made it explicitly illegal and clarified that those who did go faced tough penalties



While the sources who spoke to Reuters for this report were not able to say with certainty in what way Riyadh will alter its systematic support for rebels under the policy engineered by Prince Bandar, they said senior figures in Riyadh increasingly worry that toppling Assad will take longer than they hoped. Meanwhile, radical groups in Syria have been getting stronger at the expense of mainstream groups that have been the main recipients of Saudi military and financial aid, training and logistical support. Assad's position has also solidified in the past year. The failure to build a rebel force that can defeat Assad is partly due to logistical difficulties in working with many disparate groups spread across the country, but it is also because the strongest rebel factions are linked to al-Qaeda



The change in emphasis could present an opportunity to realign Syria policy more closely with Washington, after Riyadh fell out with its superpower ally last year, accusing the administration of Barack Obama of foresaking Syria's rebels. Obama is due to visit Saudi Arabia in March. "The Saudis have to prepare a clear vision on what's happening in Syria and on what they want in Syria. Counter terrorism plays a big role in American thinking, and in Saudi thinking," said Mustafa Alani, an analyst with the Gulf Research Centre, based in Jeddah and Geneva. Prince Mohammed, the interior minister, enjoys close relations with US security officials, shares their concerns about Islamist militants, and met Central Intelligence Agency head John Brennan in Washington on Monday. Riyadh and Washington argued last year over Syria after Obama decided against bombing Assad following a poison gas attack in Damascus, a decision Saudi leaders feared would encourage Iran to take a more open role in the conflict




 


Arab Times




  MENA News Headlines
 Sep 18 2014 - UAE- DED and DQG host Share Best Practice ConferenceKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Department of Economic Development (DED) and Dubai Quality Group on Wednesday hosted the 'Share Best Practice Conference and Exhibition 2014' with an aim to share the ...

 Sep 18 2014 - UAE- Dolphin Energy achieves 5 trillion SCF output milestoneKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Dolphin Project involves the production and processing of natural gas from Qatar's North Field, and transportation of the dry gas by sub-sea export pipeline from Qatar to ...

 Sep 18 2014 - Acer unveils new line-up, eyes increased market share in UAEKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Acer unveiled its new line-up of touch-based products portfolio at its first-ever annual showcase in Dubai on Wednesday.The Taiwanese company, which is No.1 for the last 16 ...

 Sep 18 2014 - Qatar- HH the Emir Sends Congratulations to President of ChileQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani sent Thursday a cable of congratulations to President of the Republic of Chile Michelle Bachelet on the occasion of the anniversary of her ...

 Sep 18 2014 - Qatar- HE Premier Sends Congratulations to President of ChileQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani sent Thursday a cable of congratulations to President of the Republic of Chile Michelle ...

 Sep 18 2014 - President Rouhani Condemns Massacre of Innocent People by ISIS ElementsQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has condemned the killing of innocent people by terrorist groups. He made the remarks in an exclusive interview with the NBC News Network in Tehran ...

 Sep 18 2014 - FBI: ISIS May Take More Hostages in Order to Force US ConcessionsQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey said in written testimony to Congress Wednesday that Americans within reach of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ...

 Sep 18 2014 - WHO Investigates Children Deaths after Measles Vaccination in SyrianQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) have initiated the investigation into the death of 15 children in Syria who were vaccinated against measles, UNICEF ...

 Sep 18 2014 - UAE- 787-9 Dreamliner, A380 to boost Etihad's operationsKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) "The new jumbos will deliver new, industry-leading in-flight product," said James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad Airways, while speaking to more than 700 delegates from ...

 Sep 18 2014 - UAE- Komatsu awards Galadari for superior market shareKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Hisashi Shinozuka, Director and Senior Executive Officer of Komatsu Ltd and President of Komatsu's Construction & Mining Equipment Division, presented the 'Best achievement ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

My MENAFN
Portfolio Tracker

Voting

Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help