Ikke før var det blitt en internasjonal nyhetssak at opprørerne i Syria har fått nye og moderne våpen, før det kommer frem at det er Saudi-Arabia som har kjøpt store overskuddslagre fra Kroatia.
Saudi Arabia has financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia and quietly funneled them to antigovernment fighters in Syria in a drive to break the bloody stalemate that has allowed President Bashar al-Assad to cling to power, according to American and Western officials familiar with the purchases.
Våpnene dukket opp på slagmarken i desember og har siden gjort det mulig for opprørerne å bryte den stillstand krigen var havnet i. Iran har hele tiden fortsatt å levere våpen til Assad-regimet. Syria er blitt slagmark mellom sunnier og shiaer, og sunniene aktet ikke å sitte stille og se på at Assad slaktet ned befolkningen. Etter fremgangen i nord i første halvår i fjor kjørte opprøret seg fast. Imens har jihadistene på al Nusra-fronten hatt bedre våpen og tilsvarende fremgang.
Det store spørsmål er om Washington har godkjent Saudi-Arabias våpenassistanse. Det er lite trolig at Kroatia ville våge noe slikt uten amerikansk stilltiende godkjenning. Kroatia skylder USA mye fra krigen på Balkan. Saudi-Arabia kan ha tatt hensyn til vestlige interesser ved å love å gi våpen primært til sekulære og moderate grupper. Det løftet kan fort rakne.
Washington’s role in the shipments, if any, is not clear. Officials in Europe and the United States, including those at the Central Intelligence Agency, cited the sensitivity of the shipments and declined to comment publicly. But one senior American official described the shipments as “a maturing of the opposition’s logistical pipeline.” The official noted that the opposition remains fragmented and operationally incoherent, and added that the recent Saudi purchase was “not in and of itself a tipping point.” “I remain convinced we are not near that tipping point,” the official said. The official added that Iran, with its shipments to Syria’s government, still outstrips what Arab states have sent to the rebels. The Iranian arms transfers have fueled worries among Sunni Arab states about losing a step to Tehran in what has become a regional contest for primacy in Syria between Sunni Arabs and the Iran-backed Assad government and Hezbollah of Lebanon. Another American official said Iran has been making flights with weapons into Syria that are so routine that he referred to them as “a milk run.” Several of the flights were by an Iranian Air Force Boeing jet using the name Maharaj Airlines, he said.
Jutarnji list, a Croatian daily newspaper, reported Saturday that in recent months there had been an unusually high number of sightings of Jordanian cargo planes at Pleso Airport in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. The newspaper said the United States, Croatia’s main political and military ally, was possibly the intermediary, and mentioned four sightings at Pleso Airport of Ilyushin 76 aircraft owned by Jordan International Air Cargo.