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The role of the Saudi intelligence services in the events in Syria
Messages on pro-Assad sites that the head of the General Intelligence Department of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar was “liquidated by valiant Syrian intelligence in retaliation for the organization of the resonant terrorist attack in Damascus with regard to Syrian security officials”, can be safely considered as another excellent specimen of the information war. Prince Bandar is alive and well, but he does not wish the same to his worst enemy Bashar Assad.
Note that with the strengthening of the fighting in Syria, round of propaganda and information war increases in proportion. At that, methods are becoming more unpretentious and unprofessional. This is the sin of all parties to the conflict, and therefore the messages of Arab media are becoming increasingly similar to the news “from the bazaar”. Generally this news always has a clearly marked feature, which is inherent in the East – they are willingly wishful thinking.
Prince Bandar is certainly iconic figure in the Saudi hierarchy. His appointment as the head of Saudi intelligence in this July after long disgrace is not a random episode. By the example of his rise and resignations you can clearly draw conclusions on what policy the Saudi leadership now adheres to regarding Syria. During the period of compromise with Damascus on the issue of coming to power in Lebanon of Saad Hariri, protege of Riyadh, Bandar was forced to hide “in the shadow”; his anti-Assad rhetoric was out of place and contrary to the general line of King Abdullah “to get closer to Damascus”. When this trend played out, there was a new need for “iron” Bandar. Actually, now he does the work that is critical for the kingdom: through his top-echelon contacts in the Capitol Hill, he gently presses Americans towards severization principle of their position in relation to the regime of Assad; through a network of foundations under his control, he organizes recruitment of “volunteers”, reorients the efforts of Al-Qaeda to the “Syrian direction”, and also pays for transfer of ammunition and weapons for the rebels from Libya to Syria.
For Damascus regime, Bandar is a sworn enemy, and of course, that there they wish his speedy death. But the Syrian intelligence is not able to organize and carry out such an operation in Saudi Arabia now. It has also split into Sunni and Alawite fragments, and now those who stayed on the side of Assad, are more concerned with internal affairs, or with the situation on the bases of the Syrian army (Free Syrian Army) in Turkey, in emergence. Syrian intelligence services are now just physically and financially unable to carry out very expensive and risky operations to neutralize their enemies on their own territory. But Bandar is able, and even has demonstrated this several times at a time when the Assad regime was still “okay”. It is suffice to recall the terrorist attacks in Damascus and Aleppo about one and half year ago, which were carried out by unascertained “Islamists”. By the way, the organizers and perpetrators have been arrested by Syrian authorities, testified to the customers, including Bandar, but Damascus decided not to “get business underway” – the era of temporary Saudi-Syrian warming was becoming.
However, Bandar’s plan to seize Aleppo and create “buffer zone”, in the necessity and correctness of which he was able to convince Washington and Ankara, fails. We have already explained a purely technical point, which explains it: the advantage of the regime in heavy military vehicles and aircraft. But there is a political issue – it seems that major commercial bourgeoisie of Aleppo in the mass did not accept the opposition; and here militants repeat a bad experience of Shamil Basayev in Dagestan in 1999. There is a clear underestimation of enemy’s potential and exaggeration of the number of their supporters among local population.
It was already stated that the United States and Turkey have a deficit of reliable intelligence information on Syria. Despite the supply of rebels with encrypted means of communication (and thus listening and analysis of the negotiations between militants), the American intelligence community has no reliable intelligence network in Syria. Those deserters and opposition members, who excitedly tell about the agony of the regime, of course they are not such. The CIA in the USA clearly does not want to step on the same “Iraqi rake”, when the picture of what is happening, based on “intelligence reports” of the opposition was to say the least illusory. Therefore, the main source of intelligence information is the Saudi intelligence services, which receive information from “volunteers” – jihadists. The Chechen experience shows that the process of the activities of these “volunteers” is well-organized, including clear and unbiased information to Riyadh on the situation “in the field”. With greater certainty we can say that the situation is similar in the case with Syria. This means that Bandar, as a head of Saudi intelligence, for the most part monopolized the supply of intelligence information to Washington and, therefore, is able to manipulate the information for his own benefit. This is extremely dangerous.
By the way, let’s comment the appeared reports that the natives of the North Caucasus are fighting on the side of the militants. Naturally, they did not come to Syria. At least, in their bulk. These are the militants and their families, who once fought in the North Caucasus, and then moved to Syria, where they settled for the most part as students of Islamic Universities. Appropriate requests from Moscow for their extradition or expulsion from Syria were either ignored by the Syrian authorities or responded very slowly. And they are now paying the price for it. Actually, this is another example of how the Syrian regime is such a “faithful ally to us”.