Friday, May 10, 2013

"The FSA - that you have been hearing so much about - does not exist..."

"... But to start to understand why this crisis is so intractable, two things must first be understood.Firstly, the FSA - that you have been hearing so much about - does not exist.A better title would be MWG, or men with guns, because having guns and firing them in the same direction is the only thing that unites them.
The word "army" suggests a cohesive force with a command structure. Almost two years after the FSA was created, that remains illusive.
The situation has been further complicated by the introduction into the arena of al-Qaeda-linked jihadists and armed criminal gangs.
Secondly, the Syrian opposition's political leadership - which wanders around international capitals attending conferences and making grand speeches - is not leading anyone. It barely has control of the delegates in the room with it, let alone the fighters in the field.These two things can help explain why this crisis has so far shown no sign of being resolved politically.
America is not acting because it does not know what to do or whom to do it with.
Neither do the European countries.
Having spent the last few days in Beirut and Damascus, talking to the international community, Western diplomats, FSA activists and Syrian regime supporters, it is clear that nobody knows how to end this crisis.
That's just about the only thing all sides agree on.
The vacuum created by Western inaction has been filled by two of the Gulf states - Saudi Arabia and Qatar.These are both sorely undemocratic states, they are not champions of democracy either at home or abroad.So, why in Syria did we have a "free world" standing by and watching the democratic uprising being brutally crushed, when suddenly from over the horizon came the cavalry from the very un-free Gulf world to arm and support the aspirations of the people?
This bit is simple - they did not.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar are meddling in Syria for thoroughly selfish reasons. Freedom, democracy and human rights have absolutely nothing to do with why they are arming the rebels.Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia hates Shia Iran, so it is using the war in Syria to try and weaken it..
Qatar is more complicated. Nobody really understands the minutiae of the Qatari foreign policy - perhaps not even the Qataris. Small nations like to feel important and they like to have bigger friends.
The Qataris are a tiny nation with lots of money. They are looking at the post-Arab Spring Middle East as a giant tombola, they are using their vast wealth to buy up as many of the lottery tickets on offer as possible because they just want to win something, somewhere.
They might end up with a prize that is nowhere near what they paid for it - but it will be theirs. It is the winning - not necessarily the quality of the prize - that counts.
Qatar wants to have lots of grateful friends once the turmoil in the region is over who will hopefully look after them in the future.."

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