Saudis backing revolts against Iraq, other Iran proxies
TEL AVIV — Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been supporting the Al Qaida-led Sunni revolt in Iraq, a report said.
The Institute for National Security Studies asserted that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have expanded their support for Sunni revolts against Iranian-backed governments in the Middle East.
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for a January suicide bombing of a Hizbullah stronghold in southern Beirut Reuters
In a report, the institute, citing the Islamist social network, said Riyad and Kuwait City were helping build forces that could fight Iran's proxy in Lebanon, Hizbullah, Iraq as well as the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"Gradually, the Saudis have come to the conclusion that they must develop their own proxies in order to influence the regional dynamics for their own benefit," the report, titled "The Saudi Arabia and Kuwait Outposts Project," said.
Authors Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov said the new policy of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia reflected their deep mistrust of the United States, seen as working toward a rapproachment with Iran. The report said the two Gulf Cooperation Council states concluded that "destructive forces" were more influential that "constructive forces" in shaping the Middle East and breaking the Iranian-backed Shi'ite axis.
"Therefore, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have opted for the policy of supporting Islamist opposition groups fighting Assad, [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al] Malaki, and [Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan] Nasrallah," the report, dated Feb. 16, said.
The report said Iran has pressed Al Maliki to contribute Iraqi fighters to defeat the Sunni revolt in Syria. In response, Saudi Arabia assigned intelligence chief Bandar Bin Sultan to develop Sunni proxies of Riyad to threaten Iranian and Iraqi interests. The Bandar plan was said to include the coopting of Al Qaida-aligned militias in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, including the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
"While the fighters come from many Arab and non-Arab countries, virtually all of the financial aid, religious guidance, and training come from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait," the report said.
The report said Saudi funding has allowed ISIS and the Nusra Front for the Defense of the Levant to build bases in Iraq's Anbar province, now undergoing a revolt. The Bandar plan has been accompanied by private donations from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to "recruit and finance extremist jihadist fighters for the battles in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq."
"The results are already apparent in the form of the emergence of Al Qaida and affiliated headquarters along the entire so-called Shiite crescent: ISIS and the al-Nusra front, which — in addition to its bases in Syria – have also built headquarters in Tripoli and Sidon in Lebanon and Anbar Province, Ramadi and Faluja, in Iraq," the report said.