According to the Washington Post (2 March), Saudi Arabia and Qatar have indicated they will send arms to the Syrian opposition. Kuwait’s parliament passed a non-binding resolution on 1 March calling for its government to provide weapons.
The Saudis and Qataris, so the Washington Post’s sources said, are prepared to move “as soon as they physically can”, within days or weeks at the most. “The delays are logistical, not political”.
“The Saudis see Assad’s early downfall as a major blow against Iran [Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the region]. Qatar, which played a leading role in arming the Libyan opposition to Muammar Qaddafi, is seeking to further expand its role as a major foreign-policy player”.
On 1 March the exile Syrian National Council announced that it was forming a “military bureau” to help funnel weapons.
The Turkish government has a 910-kilometre common border with Syria, and an estimated 11,000 Syrian refugees from the recent repression (including “Free Syrian Army” units) on its territory, and so is likely to be the most powerful external influence on the conflict within Syria.
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared: “Humanitarian aid corridors must immediately be opened”, and demanded that Assad allow the delivery of relief supplies to civilians.
The future of Syria may depend heavily on whether the opposition can generate political organisation strong enough to maintain independence from the outside powers seeking advantage, and strong enough also to avoid the country being edged into civil war between factions linked to rival outside powers.
But socialists must remain clear in our support for the popular rebellion, and not allow the meddling of outside powers to be used, as it is by some, as an excuse to side with Assad’s tyranny.