World View: Saudi Arabia's Plans for Syria Intervention Face Many Obstacles

This morning's key headlines from

  • Massive Saudi Arabia migrant expulsion leads to violence
  • Saudi Arabia's plans for Syria intervention face many obstacles
  • Special negotiating tactics from Israel's chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni

Massive Saudi Arabia migrant expulsion leads to violence

Ethiopians await deportation in Riyadh (Reuters)
Ethiopians await deportation in Riyadh (Reuters)

Two people were killed on Saturday in clashes between police and African, mostly Ethiopian, migrant workers, in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. Police arrested 561 people, after a week in which thousands have been arrested. The clash follows a crackdown, begun last Monday, to expel hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who don't have valid work visas. Many entered the country illegally, often seeking a job as domestic work, others have expired work visas, and others were smuggled across the border. The reason given for the crackdown is to make available more jobs for Saudis. The crackdown will close numerous small businesses, such as laundries, barbershops, eateries and bankers, and remittances back to home countries will fall about 20%. [What's not clear to me is why the closing of all these businesses won't have a recessionary effect on the economy.] Gulf News and Arab News

Saudi Arabia's plans for Syria intervention face many obstacles

Following Saudi Arabia's nasty split with the United States -- following President Obama's public flip-flop on Syria, and the administration's new rapprochement with Saudi's arch-enemy Iran -- the Saudis are struggling to find a way to use their almost unlimited funds to do something to end the intolerable genocidal slaughter of innocent civilian Sunni Arabs by Syria's psychopathic president Bashar al-Assad, supported by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

The plan is for the Saudis to create and fund an Army of Muhammad, uniting the Sunni rebel groups. A year ago, this army would have had 7,000-10,000 soldiers, including 6,300 army defectors who had taken refuge in Jordan and Turkey. But with the collapse of any hope of support from the United States, the plans for the size of the rebel army has increased to 50,000, at a cost of "several billion dollars," growing to 250,000 by March, 2016. And while the Army of Muhammad would just have had to fight al-Assad's army a year ago, today it would be fighting against two enemies -- al-Assad's army and al-Qaeda linked jihadists.

The Saudis are planning for cooperation from the Pakistanis, with whom they've shared defense ties for years. The Saudis would like Pakistani help in training its Army of Muhammad, as well as a few thousand troops.

However, Pakistan's military is dealing with its own problems from the Taliban and jihadist violence, and is not anxious to get involved in a huge effort in Syria. Furthermore, the Saudi plan would require the cooperation of Jordan, and they're also put off by the size of the Saudi plan, since there would be a large Syrian rebel army on Jordan's soil.

The biggest problem of all is getting the Saudi rebel groups to cooperate with one another. According to one analyst:

"The biggest problem facing the Saudis now is the same one facing the U.S., France, and anyone else interested in helping the rebels: the fragmentation of the rebels into groups fighting each other for local and regional dominance rather than cooperating to overthrow Assad. Could the Saudis force [the rebel groups] to cooperate? I have my doubts."

Foreign Policy and ISN Security Watch (Zurich)

Special negotiating tactics from Israel's chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni

A report last week in the Lebanon newspaper Al Diyyar says that Israel's chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, has admitted having sex with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo. The story quotes a Rabbi as saying, "It was ok for her to sleep and have sex with strangers, as long as it benefits Israel." According to the Arab press, Livni has previously admitted that she doesn't mind killing or having sex with someone in exchange for information that could benefit Israel. Al-Bawaba (Jordan)

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