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Saudi Arabia sends mixed message on Syria peace talks in Astana

The Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir stated that the Syrian peace talks in Astana would lead to a ceasefire in the country, but that's not what Riyadh wants.

The minister’s statement, however, sounds a little bit strange, since throughout the Syrian conflict, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been providing comprehensive assistance to Islamic State terrorists, supplying weapons, equipment, and mercenaries to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There is undeniable evidence of these “acts of good will” on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

Large chemical reserves seized by the Syrian army last week in eastern Aleppo destined for the manufacture of explosives can be characterized as a striking example of this. The bags with chemical materials had the name of the Saudi chemical plant Sachlo printed on them. Meanwhile, the previous month, Saudi Interior Ministry stated that more than 1,500 Saudi Arabia subjects fought in the ranks of ISIS in Syria.

Along with the strong evidence of the Saudi presence in Syria, there are also witnesses and even participants of Riyadh’s intervention. At the very beginning of the conflict, Daily Telegraph journalists stated that Syrian Army arrested several opposition militants who confessed in being paid from the representatives of Saudi Arabia directly through their commanders. They admitted to receiving about $25 per day in addition to the $400 for their participation in military operations against the Syrian government.

It should be mentioned that Saudi Arabia’s Defense budget is still one of the biggest in the world and equals to $18.7 billion while the manpower of Saudi Arabia estimates some 200,000 servicemen. In comparison, China spends $17 billion on defense with the strength of 2,4 million servicemen. Consequently, it is believed that the military budget is spent on financing terrorist and radical organizations, due to which the KSA government tends to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria.

To be mentioned is that Al-Jubeir’s statement drastically differs for the earlier stated goal as Saudi Arabia is unlikely to be interested in the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis. Saudi Arabia also fears that if the Syrian government gets an upper hand over terrorists, they will have to return home. Thus, the major part of the militants is the Persian Gulf citizens and it is a direct threat to the Saudi Arabia regime.

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Sophie Mangal
Sophie Mangal, 25, is a freelance writer and a member of the Inside Syria Media Center. The Hindu surname “Mangal” derives from the Sanskrit “mangala,” meaning “auspicious.” After attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a media and journalism major, Mangal monitored the refugee crisis in Europe, drawing parallels between the Syrian conflict and the Balkan problem, and has visited Syria on several occasions. Mangal lives in North Carolina.