My colleague Barbara Slavin reports:
At a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul April 1, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates promised with much fanfare that they would provide $100 million in salaries to the embattled fighters of the Free Syria Army. So far, however, no money has been forthcoming, according to Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian activist and fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.
Abdulhamid, speaking Wednesday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, suggested that the Obama administration had urged the Gulf countries not to give the funds for the time being. Abdulhamid said that the Saudis and Qataris were “not enamored” of the Syrian National Council, even though the umbrella group has been recognized by the Friends of Syria as a “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people.
He urged the United States and other countries to present “a credible threat of force” to the Syrian regime, warning that otherwise, the country is in danger of becoming a failed state. Noting that Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) on Tuesday changed his position and is now leaning toward creation of a humanitarian corridor or safe zone on the Syrian border, Abdulhamid said, “If Kerry can make that shift mentally, so can President Obama. I hope they make it soon enough for us to salvage the country.”