Sectarian Violence Slipping Out of Control In Balochistan Is Essential To the Imperial Plan

PAKISTAN: Sectarian violence slipping out of control in Balochistan

Relatives of missing persons stage a protest in Balochistan

QUETTA, 14 September 2012 (IRIN) – Ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan have faced increasing intimidation and violence since 2009, according to a recent fact-finding mission by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

“Settlers” i.e. people who have settled in the province and are not of Baloch ethnicity (a term used by Balochi nationalists even for people whose ancestors came to the region before the Pakistani state was created in 1947) are being targeted.

Heavy locks on two empty houses in a residential suburb of Quetta, the provincial capital, stand as a testimony to what is happening – in this case the occupants chose to vacate their properties quietly in the dead of night.

“These persons were `settlers’ in Balochistan, from the Punjab. They were good people; we had known them for years, but they had to leave because it is no longer safe for people from other provinces to live in Balochistan,” a neighbour who asked not to be named, told IRIN.

With violence increasing in 2010, the central government informed the country’s Senate that 100,000 people had fled Balochistan. According to HRCP, thousands more have fled since then. At least 2,000 “settler” children have been taken out of school by their parents since 2011, the HRCP report says.

About half of Balochistan’s 7.8 million people are non-Baloch; they live mainly in Quetta and Pakhtoon-dominated areas.

“My family has lived in Quetta since the 1930s. It is the only home I know. But things are getting too dangerous for anyone who is non-Baloch,” said Khawar Jhandro, an ethnic Sindhi.

The teacher, 40, said he had already moved his family to Karachi, as “I was terrified about the safety of my children who were asked their ethnicity even at school.”

The problem, according to Tahir Hussain Khan, a Quetta-based lawyer and human rights activist, is tied to the nationalist struggle by Baloch groups, which began in the 1950s but intensified after the 2006 killing of a key Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Baloch Baloch, a spokesman for the nationalist Baloch Republican Army, an armed militia fighting for autonomy of the region, told IRIN over the telephone: “We believe Balochistan should be mainly for the Baloch people and not be taken over by those who have moved in from outside and settled here… Balochistan’s resources have been taken away by the Punjab, aided by the central government.”

HRCP says underdevelopment is one of the factors driving the grievances. According to official statistics, the province is the country’s poorest with the lowest literacy rate (30 percent).

According to the South Asian Terrorism Portal which bases its data on media reports and is run by the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, 711 persons, including civilians, nationalist militants and personnel from security forces were killed in Balochistan in 2011, and 347 the previous year. HRCP reported the discovery of 57 bodies of people who had gone missing from various parts of the province in 2012 alone.

Sectarian violence has also started to target the Hazara, a Shiite minority. Sardar Saadat Ali, chief of the Hazara community in Balochistan, told IRIN: “Our protests are ignored. The extremists targeting us on a sectarian basis just escape, scot-free.”

Balochs also targeted

Even the Balochi nationalists themselves have become a target and many have gone missing. “There are at least 500 or more missing persons in the province,” Baloch Baloch told IRIN. According to the HRCP report, the disappearance of 198 people has been officially recorded since 2000.

A 2010 report by Human Rights Watch said the Frontier Corps (FC), a paramilitary organization commanded by Pakistan’s military, was behind many of the disappearances.

The central government is concerned that it is losing control of the region. The country’s top court, hearing a case regarding law and order in Balochistan brought before it by NGOs and families of the missing, has repeatedly ordered the provincial government to take action. So has the prime minister. But these interventions, backed by the military muscle of the FC are seen by some as interfering in local affairs.

“Basically, the FC has seized all control, follows its own plans and does not allow us to function,” a senior police officer in Quetta, who asked not to be named, told IRIN.

“The military has intervened too often in the affairs of Balochistan, handicapping civilian rule,” said I.A. Rehman, secretary-general of the HRCP. Balochistan has a long history of military intervention against those fighting for more autonomy, dating back to the 1950s.

Fear

The result of this administrative disarray is fear. Tens of thousands across Balochistan are affected.

“It is unsafe to go out of the house after 4 or 5pm. I, in fact, try not to let my college-going sons leave the house at any time, except for their studies, because I am afraid they may be `picked up’ as nationalists or get caught up in some terrorist incident,” said Shaista Bibi, a mother of three – and an ethnic Baloch.

An ethnic Pakhtoon mother was just as fearful. “We will have to leave here soon. It is no longer safe for my four young children,” said Ameera Gul, 30, who had moved to Balochistan from Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province 10 years ago. The family is now planning to leave as soon as it can.

kh/kb/cb

Anti-Pakistan Baloch Death Squad Kills Terrorist from Pro-Pakistan Death Squad

 

[Baloch death squad kills member of anti-Baloch death squad, Musallah Defa Tanzeem.  You really need a score card to keep track of all the death squads in Balochistan.]

BLA claimed to have killed a member of Govt backed death squad

<a href='http://balochwarna.com/features/articles.18/Pakistan039s-secret-dirty-war.html'>Pakistan's secret dirty war</a>

Khuzdar :

A spokesperson of the Baloch Liberation Army has informed the Online News that fighters from his Organisation have killed an active member of the Musallah Defa Tanzeem, a government back civilian death squad, headed of Shafiq Mengal.

According details Jiand Baloch, a spokesperson of the BLA said, Mohammad Ali aka Parvez Painter was an active member of the Musallah Defa Tanzeem that is why fighters from his Organisation have killed him in Azad Chowk area of Khuzdar town in Balochistan.

He further said on 30 August another spy of state forces, Abdul Khaliq Baranzai, was attacked and injured. He warned the members of civilian death squads working for state forces to mince their ways otherwise they will not be forgiven.

Baloch activists on Facebook and Twitter have accused Parvez Painter of spying against Balach Waheed Baloch, a 13 year old member of Baloch Student Organisaiton –Azad who was abducted from Khuzdar and later killed under custody. The Musallah Defa Tanzeen had accepted responsibility for abducting the young student and his killing.

The War In Quetta Is A Carbon Copy of the War In Syria

[Quetta has really been under siege lately, or, more accurately, the Hazara (Shia) of Quetta are marked for death and anyone who is near them becomes a target, as well.  The panoramic photo below is what remains of the house of Dr Azam Mengal, located in the Faizabad area of Quetta, after 80 and 100 kg of explosives detonated on his doorstep.  According to the Baloch Hal report below, “Dr Azam Mengal was currently in Dubai, and had rented the house to some people belonging to Noshki.”  Noshki has been the focal point for much of the target killings of Balochistan.

This reported attack is just the latest in a series of bombings directed at the Shia community in Quetta.  Now the Army claims to have foiled an even worse attack on some unspecified target, with the seizure of 12,000 kilos of explosives, 15 suicide vests, RPGs and detonators (SEE: Major terrorist plot foiled by security forces in Quetta).  These attacks are undoubtedly the handiwork of “America’s Islamists” (although they could also be called “Saudi Islamists,” or “Pakistan’s Islamists”), since the Sunni terrorist armies they have trained are the single force that is striving to ignite “Holy War” against the Shiites in the Greater Middle East.  America’s partners in this venture remain the same ones today, who have been killing Shias and other “infidels” in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.]   

click on image for full view

Quetta Blast Kills Five, Injures 11

The Baloch Hal Monitoring Desk 

QUETTA: Five people, including two women and two children, were killed and 11 others were injured on Sunday after an 80kg explosive being driven around by a suspected militant accidentally went off before he could reach his intended target. “We have found a severed head, believed to be of a militant who was killed in the blast,” police officer Mukhtar Ahmed told reporters following the incident that ripped apart a house in the Faizabad area of the provincial capital. “The target was not clear. We have launched an investigation to identify the militant. Police are also interrogating the owner of the house,” he added.

Abdul Razzaq, in-charge of the bomb-disposal squad in Quetta, told reporters that the car was carrying between 80 and 100 kg (180-220 pounds) of explosives. According to police details, the explosion occurred outside the house of Dr Azam Mengal, located on Killi Faizabad, Sariab Road. Following the explosion, flames engulfed and eventually gutted the entire house. Three cars and two other houses in the vicinity were also badly damaged. The 11 victims were shifted to the Civil Hospital and Bolan Medical Complex (BMC) by Edhi ambulances and were identified as Hassan Nasir, Zahid, Bibi Samina, Bibi Abida, Laraib, Zehra, Nadra, Yasin and Shafiullah. According to hospital sources, their condition is said to be critical.

Following the explosion, police and the FC personnel reached the scene and cordoned off the area. DIG Operations Wazir Khan Nassar told reporters that an 80kg explosive in the car had caused the explosion and massive destruction. He added that Dr Azam Mengal was currently in Dubai, and had rented the house to some people belonging to Noshki.

Upon receiving news of the incident, President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the blast and said that such dastardly acts of terrorism would not deter the people’s determination to root out terrorism from the country. The president expressed sorrow over the loss of lives and directed that the best medical care be provided to the casualties.Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Minister of State for Information Syed Samsam Bukhari also condemned the Quetta bomb blast.

Muhammad Ejaz Khan adds: The powerful bomb blast, which killed at least five persons, including children, on Sunday went off at around 11:50am. The thud of the explosion was heard several kilometres away in the provincial capital. Panic gripped the area soon after the blast, and frightened people could be seen running around after the powerful explosion.

Confirming the number of deaths, official sources said that five persons were killed in the powerful bomb explosion. The condition of some of the injured is stated to be precarious, hospital sources said.

Eyewitnesses told The News that the billowing smoke could be seen following the loud bang of the explosion. Due to the explosion, a portion of the house caved in as well. “I saw nothing but darkness. When I opened my eyes in the hospital, I was being treated,” said one of the injured while talking to reporters.

DIG Police Wazir Khan Nasar confirmed that the explosion had taken place inside a vehicle near the house, and added that police had launched an investigation into the incident. The names of the other deceased are yet to be confirmed because the deceased recently shifted to the house, said police officials. (CourtesyThe News International)

46 insurgent camps in Balochistan: Malik

rehman--malik-RECORDER REPORT

ISLAMABAD: There are 46 insurgent camps in Balochistan in addition to 24 training camps in the vicinity of Kandahar in Afghanistan which are to foment unrest in that province, Interior Minister Rehman Malik informed the Senate on Friday.

Winding up a debate over the Balochistan situation, the minister claimed that Pakistan’s friends and foes, who had vested interest in the mineral-rich province, were equally involved in financing and backing militants in Balochistan .

According to Malik, evidence  suggested that as many as 36 of the training camps were “operating in small pockets” and they were being harboured by India, adding that the matter had been taken up with the Indian authorities without any success.

Terming farari camps as the root cause of the Balochistan unrest, Malik called for their elimination through “some monitoring mechanism, to nip the evil in the bud”.

Although no date was fixed, the House decided to have an in-camera briefing from the interior minister along with officials of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and other law-enforcement agencies to ascertain facts. The date for the briefing would be finalised soon.

Assuring the upper house of parliament that he would inform the Senators about the “current security situation”, the minister said that lawlessness had made people’s lives miserable. “Give me an opportunity and I will tell you what our friends are up to…forget the enemies [and] let me share with you what our friends are doing to us,” he offered.

In his winding up speech, Malik discussed countless evidence on the Balochistan situation, detailing India and Afghanistan’s role in creating hatred among the Baloch people against Pakistan. Without naming “friendly countries”, Malil reiterated his request for an in-camera briefing on the issue.

Presenting proof of training camps inside Afghanistan, he gave a number of official letters written by none other than the Afghan government to its security agencies, calling for funding “dissidents to create Bangladesh-like situation in Balochistan”.

Accusing India and Afghanistan of facilitating the proscribed Balochistan Liberation Army’s (BLA) fugitive leader Brahamdagh Bugti, he said that both countries were helping his (Brahamdagh’s) men in Pakistan in connection with obtaining visas, passports, financing, including provision of arms and ammunition, to carryout terrorist acts in the province.

Malik also showed proof of camps where insurgents were being trained near Kandhar and elsewhere in Afghanistan. These terrorists, he said, were later sent to Pakistan “to carry out what they are trained”. The minister insisted that no compromise would be made on the national interest and all decisions regarding opening of North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (Nato) supply route had been made keeping in view the “dignity and sovereignty of Pakistan”.

Responding to a point of order raised by Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F)‚ Malik said that the memorandum of understanding signed for the restoration of Nato supply route “will be made public”.

“We’ve not budged from our stand to implement recommendations of joint resolutions made by parliament. We still stick to them [and] further decisions will be taken in the light of parliamentary resolutions,” he maintained.

To another point of order raised by Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) over the law and order situation in Karachi‚ he said security arrangements in the Sindh metropolis had improved a lot by reducing sectarian and ethnic polarisation. Malik claimed that the total number of missing persons in Balochistan was 36, in Punjab it was 222 and 100 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He said that the Chief Justice of Pakistan had made tireless efforts to recover these people. He went on saying that the government under the directions of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would find a solution to the issue, adding that he would provide all details about missing persons to the apex court as directed.

The house was prorogued indefinitely.

Supreme Court of Pakistan accused security forces for abductions in Balochistan

Supreme Court of Pakistan accused security forces for abductions in Balochistan

<a href='http://balochwarna.com/features/articles.20/Pakistan%E2%80%99s-dirty-war-from-Bangladesh-to-Balochistan.html'>Pakistan’s dirty war from Bangladesh to Balochistan</a>

Quetta :

The top judge of Pakistan’s highest court on Wednesday accused the paramilitary Frontier Corps of involvement in the disappearance of a third of all the missing persons in Balochistan.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court is investigating cases of missing people in Balochistan, where the military has retorted to brutal killings, bombardment of villages, abductions and other human rights violations in its bid to put down the Baloch peoples’ struggle for freedom.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, returned to Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, to hear cases of the families of abducted Baloch and those who have been killed by Pakistani security forces under their on-going policy of ‘kill and dump’ across Balochistan.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, an organisation striving for the save recovery of abducted Baloch, says that over 14,000 Baloch activists hailing from different spheres of life have been abducted by Pakistan FC and intelligence agencies. They say that over 450 people from the aforementioned number of abducted Baloch have been killed under custody and their brutally tortured and bullet riddled bodies were found dumped across Balochistan.

VOA’s Deewa Radio on Wednesday quoted Nasrullah Baloch, the chairman of VMBP as saying, “every day Frontier Corps and secret agencies kidnap political workers in broad daylight and keep them in their illegal torture cells, then we receive their bullet-riddled, mutilated dead bodies.”

“Enough evidences are available for involvement of the Frontier Corps in picking up of every third missing person” in Balochistan, Mr Chaudhry remarked during a hearing.

The court also heard a case involving the abduction of 30 Baloch men and killing of two members of BSO-Azad in the Totak village of Khuzdar district of Balochistan in February last year. The FC officials have been ordered to produce people from the Totak incident which it had in custody.

It is worth recalling that on 18 February 2011 the Pakistan FC and other security forces had attacked the Torak village near Khuzdar. Two members of BSO-Azad namely Naeem Qalandrani and Yahya Qalandarani were killed and arrested over two dozen members of Qalandarani Baloch tribe were abducted. The bullet ridden body ofMaqsood Qalandrani was found dumped in Quetta on 16 July 2011. The rest of the people abducted in February last year are still being illegally held by Pakistani intelligence agencies.

Balochistan, which also straddles Iran and Afghanistan, is rich in in natural resources including Oil and Gas, but the Baloch people remains one of the most deprived in South East Asia. Rights activists have accused the military of mass arrests and extra-judicial executions in its bid to counter a national liberation struggle.

International Human Rights Organisations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Asian Human Rights Commission have extensively reported on Pakistani atrocities against Baloch people. These groups say that abductions are often carried out in broad day light in presence of multiple eye-witnesses – family members and fellow passengers.

In June this year the UN human rights Chief Navi Pillay voiced concern about “very grave” rights violations during Pakistani military operations. She had said disappearances in Balochistan had become “a focus for national debate, international attention and local despair”

Chinese survey team attacked in Gwadar, one killed

 

Chinese survey team attacked in Gwadar, one killed

 
Occupied Balochistan: A spokesperson of the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), Mr Doda Baloch, has said that fighters from his Organisation have attacked a Chinese survey team few days back, as a result one person was killed and another has been wounded.

While speaking to NNI on Sunday Mr Doda Baloch has accepted the responsibility for the attack on Chinese team. Doda Baloch warned that “no investors, be them national or International, will be allowed to invest in Balochistan without the consent of Baloch Nation.”

The BLF spokesperson further said that the Baloch resistance organisation (we) have made it clear through their pamphlets and press releases that Baloch are struggling for their national liberation and national preservation, therefore no capitalist should invest on Baloch land and the common labourers should refrain working for the investors [to avoid any harm].

Courtesy: Daily Tawar

US Officials See No Conflict of Interests In Arming “Al-CIA-da” with Surface-to-Air Missiles To Get Assad

[In order to become a US Govt. official you have to possess absolutely no sense of morality whatsoever.  The latest example of government immorality comes via the phenomenon we affectionately refer to as “al-Qaeda.”  Congress can pass resolutions which resemble declarations of war against “al-Qaeda”-inspired terrorism, giving us the completely scandalous “Global War On Terrorism” (GWOT), while simultaneously supporting known branches of all-Qaeda and arming them with the most feared of all terrorist weapons, the man-portable, hand-held, SAM (surface-to-air-missile).  We have to do everything conceivable to keep terrorists in Libya from getting their hands on several thousand of these nasty man-killers, except for the terrorists who plan to use them in support of NATO’s war on Bashar Assad.  We start a global war against terrorism, yet we openly employ known terrorists to do our dirty work in Syria (unlike places like Pakistan, where we keep our hiring of Hakeemullah Mehsud’s gang on the “Q.T.”.  This is the kind of shit that will finish-off this country, before our leaders ever really cobble together their new world order.  

We are fucked…and deservedly so.]  

Saudi and Turkey get serious about supporting Syrian rebels

Members of the Free Syrian Army

Saudi Arabia is set to pay the salaries of the rebel Free Syrian Army to encourage mass defections from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Saturday.

The payments would be made in either U.S. dollars or euros — which would mean a rise in salaries as the Syrian pound has fallen sharply in value since the revolt started 16 months ago, the broadsheet said.

The idea was first proposed to Saudi Arabia by Arab officials in May, the Guardian reported, citing sources in three Arab states and adding that the plan has also been discussed with U.S. officials.

However a spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered no comment to Al Arabiya on such claims, suggesting the topic is likely to be addressed at the joint GCC-EU council and ministerial meeting set to take place in Luxembourg on Monday.

The Guardian also claims that Turkey has allowed the establishment of a command center in Istanbul co-coordinating the supply of weapons to the rebel fighters in Syria, staffed by more than 20 mainly Syrian nationals.

The report comes amid a crisis between Turkey and Syria afterDamascus confirmed that it shot down a Turkish fighter jet that it said had violated Syrian airspace.

The Guardian said Turkey sees weapon supply lines as crucial to the defense of its border with its former close ally Syria, with Syrian forces edging closer in an attempt to stop guns crossing the border into the hands of rebel fighters.

The Guardian says its reporters witnessed weapons being transferred across border from Turkey into Syria in early June.

According to the report, Turkey has given the green-light to establish a command center in Istanbul, to coordinate with opposition leaders within Syria. It is alleged that 22 people have been recruited to run the center, most of them Syrian nationals.

On Friday, Ankara denied allegations in a New York Times report, citing U.S. officials and Arab intelligence sources, that Turkey was among a number of countries shipping weapons to Syrian rebels over the border.

The New York Times also reported that the CIA was on location in south Turkey assisting allies in the distribution of weapons amongst opposition fighters.

“Turkey does not ship weapons to any neighboring country, including Syria,” foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said.

The neighbors’ relations are already strained over outspoken condemnation by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Syria’s bloody crackdown on protests against Assad’s government.

Turkey is hosting more than 30,000 Syrian refugees living in camps near the border, according to foreign ministry figures, as well as army defectors including 12 generals.

Increasing concern

  I think it’s fair to say that we have a concern about the MANPADS coming out of Libya  

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Meanwhile as evidence mounts of Islamic militant forces among the Syrian opposition, senior U.S. and European officials are increasingly alarmed by the prospect of sophisticated weapons falling into the hands of rebel groups that may be dangerous to Western interests, including al-Qaeda.

In an interview with Reuters, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta articulated U.S. worries that shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, also known as MANPADS, could find their way onto the Syrian battlefield.

Intelligence experts believe that hundreds, if not thousands, of such weapons were looted from arsenals accumulated by late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, and are floating on the Middle East black market.

“I think it’s fair to say that we have a concern about the MANPADS coming out of Libya,” Panetta said in the Thursday interview. “We’ve had an ongoing view that it was important to try to determine where these MANPADS were going, not only the concern that some of them might wind up in Syria but elsewhere as well,” he said.

Panetta added that he had seen no direct intelligence yet that such missiles had made their way to Syria. He did not specifically cite the rebels as potential recipients.

But other U.S. and allied officials voiced that concern, while saying they had no evidence that Syrian rebels had yet acquired MANPADS.

Qaeda joining rebels

  It stands to reason that if any Middle Eastern nation is even considering giving arms to the Syrian opposition, it would take a measured approach and think twice about providing arms that could have unintended consequences  

U.S. official

The urgency of Western concerns stems as much from the recipients of the weapons as the weapons themselves. High-level sources at multiple national intelligence services report increasing evidence that Islamic militants, including Qaeda and its affiliates and other hard-line Sunni groups, had joined forces with opponents of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who has advised President Barack Obama on counter-terrorism policy, said that Qaeda and other militants were “deeply engaged” with anti-Assad forces. He cited public pronouncements by senior Qaeda figures, including the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, that urged Sunni rebels in Syria to kill members of Assad’s Alawite Muslim minority.

A western government source said that al-Nusrah, a “spinoff” from Qaeda’s Iraq-based affiliate, was responsible for at least some atrocities that have occurred in Syria. The source said the group publicly confirmed its role in killings.

Worries that sophisticated weapons could make their way to the wrong kind of Syrian rebels are one reason Washington remains wary of deeper U.S. involvement in the fighting.

“It stands to reason that if any Middle Eastern nation is even considering giving arms to the Syrian opposition, it would take a measured approach and think twice about providing arms that could have unintended consequences,” a U.S. official said.

Nonetheless, U.S. and allied officials say their Saudi and Qatari counterparts have discussed how MANPADS could be used by Assad opponents to bring down Russian-made helicopters the Syrian army is using to redeploy its troops rapidly between trouble spots.

But such missiles also could be used against other targets, including civilian airliners, one reason for the U.S. and allied concern.

After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the CIA, with Saudi backing, provided sophisticated shoulder-fired Stinger missiles to Islamic militants seeking to oust Soviet troops.

The missiles played a significant role in the Soviets’ ultimate defeat in Afghanistan. But they also became a major headache for U.S. and western counter-terrorism agencies when anti-Soviet militants morphed into anti-Western militant factions including Qaeda.

U.S. providing non-lethal support

Some prominent U.S. Republicans are urging a big step-up in U.S. aid for Assad’s opponents, including arms deliveries and even possible U.S. military involvement.

At a conference on Thursday hosted by the website Bloomberg Government, U.S. Senator John McCain suggested that the Obama administration’s cautious policy regarding the Syrian rebels was “shameful” and urged a major escalation in U.S. involvement.

“So what do we do? First of all, we stand up for them. Second of all, we get them weapons. Third of all, we establish a sanctuary with our allies – no boots on the ground, no boots on the ground – and use our and our allied air power to protect that zone and we help these people in a fair fight,” McCain said.

At the same conference, however, Representative Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warned: “We are just really not in a good position today to fully identify all of the groups, all of the factions, who’s winning that leadership fight,” he said.

The United States is understood to be supplying non-lethal support to Assad’s opponents, such as financing and communications gear, possibly including monitoring equipment. The Times said that the Obama administration has held back on providing rebels with intelligence information, such as satellite photographs, on the activities of Assad’s forces.

Riedel warned that Qatar authorities might not be too choosy about which Syrian rebels they are willing to supply with arms, though they would try to avoid giving them directly to Qaeda.

“I don’t think that Qatar and the Saudis are as concerned as we are about surface-to-air missiles,” Riedel added.

What do you think about Saudi paying the Syrian rebels? Tell us your thoughts below. 

© 2012 MBC Group