24 Oct, Sunday
24° C

Syria Not Doing Enough to Stop Movement of Jihadists

I interviewed Jamal Khashoggi, the editor in chief of the progressive Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, last week and he told me that Syria was not doing enough to stem the movement of Saudi jihadists and suicide bombers who enter Iraq through Syria.

“The problem here is Syria — all the suicide bombers are going into Iraq through Syria. The Saudi security forces know that Saudis are being trained in Iraq and Lebanon. But Saudi Arabia has no travel restrictions on Saudis going abroad unless the government has intelligence on them. The sight of young Saudis in Damascus is normal, but is it normal to see Saudis in Kamishli (a town in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border)?” asked Khashoggi rhetorically.

“The Syrians keep denying that they are allowing terrorists to pass between Syria and Iraq, but I find that hard to believe — that they cannot pick up Saudis in eastern Syria — this in a country known for its vast network of secret police agents.”

On the subject of the $20 billion weapons package that the US is going to offer to the Saudis, Khashoggi said that the deal should be viewed as a regular replenishment of weapons, and said that he didn’t feel it would be a rebalancing of power act in the region as the Kingdom’s airforce is much stronger than that of Iran.

He also said that Saudi Arabia was against a military strike against Iran, but that the Kingdom was worried about the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. “In that regard, I don’t think the Kingdom would mind if the United Nations placed more sanctions against Iran to squeeze it further economically,” he said.