Military to Military

Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war

Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped. Continue reading

Saudi spy chief warns of ‘major shift’ in ties with US

Days after Saudi Arabia surprised the international community with its last-minute decision to reject a rotating UN Security Council seat, there were signs of a growing rift between the oil-rich Gulf monarchy and its key ally, the US.

At a weekend meeting with European diplomats, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief said the kingdom would make a “major shift” in its relations with the United States in protest over Washington’s perceived inaction over the Syria war and its overtures to Iran, according to media reports. Continue reading

Saudis bankroll new rebel force to fight own war on Assad

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 8 (UPI) — Saudi Arabia, exasperated with U.S. vacillation related to Syria’s chemical arsenal and now its effort to reconcile with Iran, Riyadh’s foremost adversary, is forging a new alliance of Islamist rebels in Syria under a pro-Saudi warlord to supersede the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army.

Riyadh also wants to foment an Iraq-style “Sunni Awakening” to unite Syria’s majority sect to topple the minority Damascus regime of President Bashar Assad.

Middle East analyst Michael Weiss, writing in the Beirut Web portal Now Lebanon, observed Riyadh has “taken substantive measures to circumvent Washington altogether on Syria by activating a cadre of new clients in the form of a hard-line Salafist rebels who are now united under the umbrella of the army of Islam. Continue reading

Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.

Leaked transcripts of a closed-door meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan shed an extraordinary light on the hard-nosed Realpolitik of the two sides. Continue reading