Officials said the sudden reversal by President Barack Obama, who pressured Israel and American Jews to support an attack on Syria, suggested that the administration was pursuing a reconciliation with Iran. They said Teheran was consulted over ways for Syria to accept a diplomatic solution that would eventually end its chemical weapons program.
“Iran understands today that there is nothing backing up all the threats against it,” Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Shalom said. “If it is impossible to do anything against little Syria, then certainly not against big Iran.”
Officials were skeptical over whether Assad would honor his pledge to eliminate Syria’s CW stockpile. They said the United States could act toward Syria as with Iran — maintaining sanctions while stressing diplomacy.
“We do not know how the free world will act in response to the massacres in Syria,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said.
Israeli Strategic Threats Minister Yuval Steinitz raised the prospect that Washington’s agreement would embolden both Damascus and Teheran. Steinitz, regarded as close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, suggested that Iran and Syria could conclude that the international community would tolerate the use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear.
“One day they may not only threaten to use them, but actually do so,” Steinitz said.
Officials said Israel expected the Russian-U.S. agreement on Syria to cancel any plan for a American military strike on the Assad regime. They said Obama, who welcomed the Russian agreement, was given a way to evade his pledge to respond to repeated CW attacks by Damascus.
“Israel is not involved in the Syrian civil war,” Shalom said. “But Israel also says that the lack of a decision regarding Syria is a decision, and in our region it will have a great deal of significance.”
Al Qaida Deploys 10,000 In Syria
Al Qaida has deployed at least 10,000 rebel fighters in Syria, a report said.
A leading British defense consultant asserted that Al Qaida deployed 10,000 fighters to battle the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. In a report, IHS Jane’s said Al Qaida recruits, who dominate the Sunni revolt, comprised about 10 percent of the 100,000 rebels in Syria.
“The insurgency is now dominated by groups which have at least an Islamist viewpoint on the conflict,” Charles Lister, author of the analysis, said. “The idea that it is mostly secular groups leading the opposition is just not borne out.”
The report said Al Qaida sent 10,000 foreigners to fight in Syria. Another 35,000 jihadists were said to have bolstered the Al Qaida presence.
The IHS report, based on interviews with rebels, differed with assertions by the U.S. intelligence community over the last year. The intelligence community as well as the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama have maintained that Al Qaida played a small role in the 30-month-old Sunni revolt.
Lister said Al Qaida fighters, backed by Gulf Arab states, are dominating the war against Assad. The report cited the Al Qaida-aligned Nusra Front for the Defense of the Levant and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, which attacked rival militias in 2013.
The report said Al Qaida marked the only coherent element
in the revolt.
Lister said as many as 1,000 militias were fighting Assad.
“Because of the Islamist make up of such a large proportion of the opposition, the fear is that if the West doesn’t play its cards right, it will end up pushing these people away from the people we are backing,” Lister said. “If the West looks as though it is not interested in removing Assad, moderate Islamists are also likely to be pushed further towards extremists.” Libyan Arms Flow To Syria
Libya has become a leading weapons supplier to Syria.
The United Nations has determined that weapons and ammunition were sent from Libya to Syria. The UN report, relayed to the Security Council, said the military equipment was sent to Syrian rebels by sea and air.
“There have been an increasing number of reported cases of trafficking of arms and ammunition from Libya to the Syrian Arab Republic by sea and air,” the report said.
On Sept. 16, the council’s committee on Libyan sanctions said weapons were flowing from the North African state at an alarming rate. The panel said the weapons, stolen from the former regime of Col. Moammar Khaddafy, fueled the Libyan black market.
“Despite those efforts, however, the proliferation of arms and ammunition across Libya’s borders, and an increasing number of reported cases of trafficking in such materiel to Syria by sea and air were worrying,” the panel said. “Additionally, the report said that increasing demand for personal and small arms had boosted imports into Libya’s civilian black market, and that third countries had carried out several seizures.”
The panel said members of the Khaddafy family found safe haven in Arab states. At one point, two of Khaddafy’s children, Aisha and Mohammed, were living in Algeria and Oman.
The UN Security Council decided to investigate several large arms shipment from Libya in 2013. No additional details were released. Assad Won’t Give Up CW: Report
President Bashar Assad, struggling in his offensive against Sunni rebels, was not expected to honor any agreement to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, a report said. The Foreign Policy Research Institute asserted that Assad would dilute the Russian-U.S. agreement for the elimination of Syria’s CW assets. In a report, the institute said Assad could only hope to defeat the rebels through nonconventional weapons.
“Assad’s CW arsenal is absolutely critical to his regime’s survival,” the report, titled “Beware Syrians Bearing Gifts,” said. “He won’t give it up unless and until he can dupe the West into helping him achieve this end — if then.”
Author Gary Gambill said the Assad regime, despite massive Iranian and Russian support, continued to lose territory to the rebels. Gambill, deemed a leading U.S. analyst on Syria, said the regime failed to recruit sufficient manpower to secure the nation’s borders and overpower the Sunni majority.
“The Syrian regime cannot hope to win the war through conventional warfare,” the report said. “The country’s disenfranchised Sunni Arab majority has a fivefold demographic advantage over Assad’s quasi-Shiite Alawite sect, which dominates pro-regime forces. Moreover, Syria is surrounded by hostile Sunni states and Assad lacks the manpower to plug its porous borders.”
The report said Assad’s military has failed to capitalize on the capture of Qusair along the border with Lebanon and the Khalidiyah district of Homs. Gambill said the rebels blocked a Syrian Army drive in the Ghouta suburbs of Damascus and were preparing for another offensive.
“Unrestrained use of CW has the potential to turn the tide of the war, at least in the short-term,” the report said. “With the large majority of Syrian civilians potentially within range of government artillery — and all within range of aircraft — widespread CW deployment could eviscerate the rebellion in heavily populated areas of the country.”
The report said Assad was believed to have drafted a CW strategy. One scenario was that the United States could work for a ceasefire in the revolt to prevent CW assets from falling into the hands of Al Qaida-aligned rebels. “Any disarmament plan would lock U.S. officials into dealing routinely with his government and give them a stake in its survival for as long as the process takes — which Assad will therefore be sure to drag out,” the report said. “On top of this, he is now demanding that Washington stop arming Syrian rebels as a quid pro quo. Other demands and provisos are sure to follow.”