Saudi Arabia is recruiting Yemenite mercenaries and sending them to help opposition forces fighting to overthrow the regime of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad, according to a report published on the Paris based website, Intelligence Online.
Western intelligence sources say the operation is being organized by the Kingdom’s general intelligence service, headed by former Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin-Sultan.
According to the story, hundreds of Yemenite migrant workers whose visas have expired are being offered military training and pay in order to assist the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). They are also being promised that they will be allowed to work in Saudi Arabia once again upon their return from Syria.
Direct training is being provided by army and intelligence officers of the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, which is known to have good ties with Saudi intelligence. The operation is also reportedly being coordinated with the CIA, whose agents have been involved in training members of the Free Syrian Army in camps in Jordan.
The Yemenite mercenaries are reaching Syria through Turkey, whose intelligence services are also privy to the clandestine operation. The recruitment of the Yemenites is intended to provide a counterweight to the assistance that the Syrian regime is getting from Iran, the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, and Shiite militias from Iraq.
Saudi Arabia is the leading provider of aid to the opposition in Syria, sending weapons and money. However the Saudis are as the expression goes “dancing at all weddings.” They cooperate with the western powers to support the non radical elements of the FSA but they also support Islamic groups like the Al Nusra Front. The strategy is designed to balance the involvement of Saudi Arabia’s Qatari rivals, who provide backing to some the most Islamist elements of the Syrian opposition, including Al Qaeda-linked units.
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