PISS OFF PUTIN: Wealthy Gulf states may arm Syrian rebels to ‘get the Russians the hell out of Syria
One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that Washington has kept high numbers of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), considered to be a threat to low-flying aircraft, out of Syria by uniting Western and Arab allies behind sending training and infantry weapons to moderate opposition groups while the US conducted talks with Russia.
Fed up with dancing to Washington’s tune, Gulf allies or Turkey may sooner or later silently agree to wealthy individuals supplying MANPADS to opposition groups in Syria, another US official said.
“The Saudis have always thought that the way to get the Russians to back off is what worked in Afghanistan 30 years ago – negating their air power by giving MANPADS to the Mujahideen,” an unnamed US official told Reuters.
“So far, we’ve been able to convince them that the risks of that are much higher today because we’re not dealing with a Soviet Union in retreat, but a Russian leader who’s bent on rebuilding Russian power and less likely to flinch,” the official added, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Asked if Washington planned to do “anything other than pursue a diplomatic solution” to halt the violence in Syria, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said anyone pouring more weapons into the conflict will only add more fuel to the fire.
“I think that those who may be deluded into thinking there’s a military solution also have to realize, and we’ve alluded to this before, that there are those – and not the United States – but there are those who back various groups and opposition groups within Syria who also may seek to arm them. And again, what you have as a result is just an escalation in what is already horrific fighting. As I said, things could go from bad to much worse,” Toner said.
Another administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters, noted, however: “The opposition has a right to defend itself and they will not be left defenseless in the face of this indiscriminate bombardment.”
The official stated that some other US “allies and partners” have been also involved in the US-Russia talks on the conflict in Syria.
“We don’t believe they will take lightly to the kind
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