News / Middle East

Saudi Arabia Offers Sophisticated Weapons to Syrian Rebels

Saudi Arabia Offers Sophisticated Weapons to Syrian Rebelsi
X
March 01, 2014 3:13 AM
Saudi Arabia reportedly is offering to provide Syrian rebels more sophisticated weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that can take down fighter planes and helicopter gunships. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

Saudi Arabia Offers Sophisticated Weapons to Syrian Rebels

Meredith Buel
Saudi Arabia reportedly is offering to provide Syrian rebels more sophisticated weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that can take down fighter planes and helicopter gunships.

They could be a game changer in the Syrian civil war.

Known as MANPADS or man-portable air defense systems, the shoulder-fired missiles are a highly-effective weapon.

Now, Saudi Arabia is offering to supply moderate rebels with these weapons. That could tip the balance on the battlefield.

Senior Middle East analyst David Weinberg said, “They [Saudis] see Sunnis, their compatriots being slaughtered by Shi’ites whom they perceive as heretics, and they see a religious obligation to rise to the side of their compatriots who have been struggling on the battlefield.”

Potent missiles

American supplied shoulder-fired Stinger missiles helped the mujahedeen drive the Soviets from Afghanistan in the 1980s. U.S. officials, however, oppose arming Syrian rebels with such weapons. They are concerned the missiles could fall into the hands of extremists who might use them to fire at commercial airliners.

Because of U.S. opposition, the Saudis have not supplied MANPADS in the past.

Middle East expert David Schenker at the Washington Institute said, “It is just too dangerous. There is too much leakage. And there is already a huge surplus from Libya that is out there in the open market that is moving around the Middle East, that poses a tremendous threat to civilian aircraft.”

The rebels cannot compete with Syria’s Russian-made helicopters that have been dropping barrel bombs on the civilian population.

Russia's role

Failed peace negotiations have disappointed the Obama administration, which no longer believes Russia will play a constructive role.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, "Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be contributing so many more weapons and so much more aid that they are in fact enabling [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad to double down."

Wealthy Persian Gulf states also are offering to supply moderate Syrian rebels with anti-tank guided missiles.

Some analysts say it is time to strengthen them.

“We’ve wasted a lot of time. And there has been a lot of suffering because the rebels have not been as successful as they could be. I think we have got to help change the dynamic on the ground,” said Schenker.

Reaching out to Riyadh

The Syrian war and disagreements over Iran’s nuclear program have strained relations between Riyadh and Washington.

Kerry has made two recent visits to reduce tensions.

“Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia are quite poor right now," said Weinberg. "They are going through a rough patch. They are not going through a divorce.”

President Barack Obama is said to be rethinking U.S. strategy toward Syria.

No doubt arming the Syrian rebels will be on the agenda when Obama travels to Saudi Arabia in late March.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
March 02, 2014 1:18 PM
Dropping barrel bombs from helicopters on civilian populated areas, killing innocent people, and destroying personal property is absolutely a terrorist act, and absolutely must be punished. War criminal can not be any clearer.

How does the population defend themselves against such agreession? They can't...

The international community has to disable assad and arrest him. The Syrian people would love to have assad then handed over to them, so they could prosecute him by Syrian law. But the international community on the other hand would prefer him to be tried publicly in the international criminal courts.

Meenwhile the scumbag is using his funds to drop more bombs, kill more people, and do absolutely nothing for Syrians he has displaced or destroyed their homes, or killed their parents.

bashar al assad is doing NOTHING for his victims, not even a "Ooops sorry, we didnt mean to kill your family when we dropped bombs in your neighbourhood"... The true tell tale signs of a criminal at large.

In Response

by: publius2 from: California
March 04, 2014 5:08 PM
Assad would have been gone long ago if it weren't for the real problem - his allies, Iran and Russia.


by: Anonymous
March 02, 2014 12:42 PM
Seeing that Syria is in the majority sunnis, should it not have been better if Saudi Arabia tried to seek a political solution to the crisis in there that can lead to early elections? Using the same strategy of causing trouble everywhere which the US has employed in the Middle East, Asia and Africa only goes to aggravate matters. I have always wondered why so-called civilized countries in Europe and America use and encourage mob action that has devastated countries like Egypt, Libya and Syria as the only way to change governments they disagree with. It only means one thing: the failure of their once touted diplomatic manipulations. It's like when witchcraft fails, it resorts to physical abuse. The use of miscreant mercenaries is proof of change of tactics by the secret services of so-called democracies and industrialized countries of USA and Europe.

Proper diplomacy should be engaged by emerging democracies and economies like Saudi Arabia in dealing with issues relating to change of governments. Europe and USA have so much blood on their hands that will eventually spell their doom, hence they have abandoned diplomacy for indirect use of force when there is enough hooligans at their disposal to use for such things going by the name of opposition. Therefore supplying arms that will be turned round to be used against you is not the best way to grow up in the region. Look at what those guns are doing to Americans everywhere in the world where they cannot move freely like every other person, because they are haunted by their past and hunted by the same people they armed. Sophisticated weapons to terrorist opposition is an avoidable mistake. Stop it and you have contributed your quota to non-proliferation of lethal weapons that end up in the hands of terrorists

In Response

by: Anonymous
March 03, 2014 5:22 AM
You are kidding right? There is absolutely no diplomacy with bashar al assad. There might be talks but they get nowhere, he thinks he is the owner of Syria and refuses to give it up to the people of Syria. Assad is known for spinning everyones wheels, while contineuing to kill anyone who opposes him.


by: Hatemi from: Iran
March 02, 2014 8:15 AM
the world should do something about this violation of human rights. Saudi Arabia is the biggest treacherous blasphemy liars in Middle east. Hey America, do not forget 9/11 was perpetrated by Saudis.!!!

In Response

by: Drew from: USA
March 28, 2014 10:33 PM
I have recently discovered their involvement as well as the civil rights abuses against individuals. They fund and house Al-Qaeda and other extremists groups. I am surprised that we have so many dealings with them and were so eager to rush in to offer aids to the rebels without learning more about them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid