Friday, October 12, 2012

'Saudi authorities discover that groups engaged in supplying weapons to rebels in Syria are arranging to transfer them to the Kingdom'

[Al Akhbar] "... A new factor is at play here: fear that the fallout from the Syrian crisis could spill over beyond Syria and Lebanon to Saudi Arabia itself. Last month, Riyadh reportedly contacted the Lebanese authorities for help in preventing the smuggling of arms from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia. They had discovered that groups engaged in supplying weapons to rebels in Syria were arranging to transfer them to the kingdom.Turkey, too, is torn between continuing to try to topple the Assad regime without intervening directly and stepping back, as the Iranians and Russians have been urging it to do in their contacts. Ankara no longer feels sure that Assad‘s departure or forcible overthrow is inevitable, nor that it can take Aleppo from him and turn it into a buffer zone. This impression was reinforced by the advice given by Turkish intelligence to Lebanese officials negotiating over the release of Shia hostages in Syria: act on the assumption that Aleppo is in Assad’s hands.Turkey’s ambivalence did not prevent it from mounting mild military retaliation against Syria’s violations of its territory. But it no longer calls for the overthrow of the regime, after repeatedly declaring its days numbered for much of the past 19 months. Now, contrary to what it has been saying for months, it is prepared to agree to the regime remaining but Assad departing. It used to insist the two were synonymous and that both had to be removed entirely when it was promoting itself to the world as the one country capable of breaking the back of the Assad regime.
After the Syrian president realized that the option of Western military intervention was no longer on the cards, nor that of overthrowing him by force, he turned into a de facto partner at the negotiating table. June’s Geneva Agreement broke new ground by proposing a balanced solution providing for dialogue between Assad and his opponents via a government of national unity to oversee a transitional period. But there was no real incentive to get the agreement implemented.
Assad is certainly no longer in a position, as he was a year ago, to impose what he wants. But he still has the capacity to prevent anything being imposed on him. He has won, at least until now, the battle for his survival and prevented his overthrow, but without creating a fait accompli."

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