TEL AVIV Israel – Washington’s hands-off approach to the Middle East has never been as apparent as during the last few weeks, an Arab diplomat told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Russia has surpassed the United States’ support for Kurdish forces, becoming their primary sponsor, he said. This while Turkey and the Saudis attempt to arm Syrian rebels to compete with the Russians and fill the security vacuum left by America’s absence.
“The Americans funded, trained, and armed the Kurds who fought the Islamic State and, to a lesser extent, the Syrian regime,” he said. “That was the situation in the last two years up until the last few months, and it reached its lowest ebb in the last couple of weeks.”
Russia is no longer hesitating before it ventures into what has been exclusively American territory, creating alliances with the Kurds even along the Turkish and Iraqi borders, he said.
“By supplying weapons and expertise, the Russians have won the loyalty of players that were exclusively pro-American,” he said. “And I mean groups other than the PKK, which have long since turned into a Russian force.”
Moscow is striving, successfully, to increase its influence in the region. “Their goal was to minimize clashes between the Kurds and the regime, and to concentrate their efforts on defeating IS.”
“America has been well aware of the Russian efforts, but chose to do nothing,” he continued. “However, Saudi Arabia and Turkey found it alarming, and started shipping weapons to opposition groups, which threatened the viability of the cease-fire agreement, which has been effectively violated across the country, but especially in Aleppo, because all the players – the regime, Iran, and Hezbollah on the one hand and the opposition groups, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey on the other – realize that whoever controls the city has leverage over the arms route. That’s why the fighting there has been especially fierce.”
“America’s inaction is not new,” he added. “It hurts those who see themselves as America’s allies who find themselves facing Russia alone. But it’s interesting to see the growing discord between Russia and the Syrian and Iranian regimes.”
“Moscow is definitely uninterested in resuming all-out war,” he continued. “They want selective battles against radical jihadi groups, as opposed to the Iranian and Syrian regimes who want a full war. It will be interesting to see whether it will lead to a split in the Russian-Iranian-Syrian camp. That remains to be seen. What doesn’t remain to be seen is America’s withdrawal, as demonstrated by the Russian-Kurdish alliances, which were unheard of up until a few months ago.”
The alleged shipping of arms to opposition groups by Turkey and Saudi Arabia could result in terrorist entities obtaining dangerous weaponry, such as man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADs.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported on CIA fears that coalition partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia could go behind the agency’s back and ship MANPADS to rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Last month’s Journal article revealed the CIA believes that Mideast rebels have already obtained MANPADs, and the agency fears the weaponry could be acquired by terrorist groups and utilized against civilian aircraft.
This significant detail was contained in the 13th paragraph of the larger Wall Street Journal article reporting on CIA plans to possibly arm moderate Syrian rebels with more advanced weaponry if the truce in Syria continues to deteriorate and full-scale fighting resumes.
The Journal reported:
To coalition partners including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the CIA has twinned assurances that the U.S. will allow the anti-Assad coalition to supply more weapons with warnings that they would be mistaken to go behind Washington’s back to provide weapons systems that Mr. Obama has decided so far not to introduce to the battlefield.
The agency’s principal concern focuses on man-portable air-defense systems, known as MANPADs. The CIA believes that rebels have obtained a small number of MANPADs through illicit channels. Fearing these systems could fall into terrorists’ hands for use against civilian aircraft, the spy agency’s goal now is to prevent more of them from slipping uncontrollably into the war zone, according to U.S. and intelligence officials in the region.
It is widely understood that some Syrian rebel elements have already obtained and deployed MANPADs.
Last month, a Syrian jet was reportedly shot down by rebels utilizing an antiaircraft missile. The event marks the second time the Syrian government said it was attacked in recent weeks by rebels deploying antiaircraft missiles. The Syrian military in March said one of its warplanes was shot down in western Syria that month.