Saudi Arabia and Syria
Saudi Arabia is an
ancient powerful country with a high standard of living, and a strong
monarchy. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of all of Islam, and is the home
of two of the holiest sites in the Islamic world. About 3 million
Muslims participate in the sacred pilgrimage, known as the Hajj, which
takes place at these sites. We, Saudi Arabia, support the Syrian rebels
because we want to see a government that satisfies the majority of the
people. Syria is a predominantly Sunni population and it makes sense that
they should have a government with similar views. Assad and his government
are cruelly oppressing the Sunni people from their rights. He is watching
out only for himself and those who share the name Assad. We see ourselves
as the protector of the Sunni majority in Syria, and our people are
driven to help and support the Syrian rebels. For these reasons we believe
Assad should peacefully step down, before force is necessary.
Saudi Arabia's government is very different than Syria's government
-Religion: Muslim (Sunni: 85%, Shi’a 15%)
-Gov. Authoritarian regime, Baath party,
Dictator with election (Leader is a Shi’a in a Sunni majority)
-Religion: muslim (Sunni: 74%, Shia: 15%
Saudi Arabia has a good diplomacy with the West including the US
- Syrian Relations: Saudi Arabia (trade) U.A.E, Turkey,
Iraq, Iran (closest ally), (not good relations with West)
- Saudi Arabia
Relations: U.S. (good relations with West), Turkey, Qatar
violence against its own people made the Arab League and the
organization of the Islamic cooperation suspender membership. Saudi
Arabia believes that the new government is put in place Syria can join
the Arab League again.
disagreements were put to rest when president Obama began a broad 10
year program to sell $60 billion in arms to the Saudis. (NYT Barnard
January 11, 2013)
Arabia and Syria both have huge Sunni majorities but Syria has Shia leader
1. What is the state of relations between your government and the
government of Syria?
Arabia opposes Syria’s Pres. Assad and his government (Frontline:
The Battle for Syria)
Arabia wants to see a Sunni led government in Syria.
the government to match the country’s majority (Sunni)
- Syria was a
trading partner of Saudi Arabia in the past
government is plagued by problems inside their borders and with their
neighbors. The Saudis have been dealing with Iran over that nation's
nuclear program. Saudi Arabia and Iran have a history of not getting
along. (NYT Sanger October 14, 2012)
- Saudi Arabia
and Syria used to be members of the Arab League but Syria got thrown
out. (NYT Chivers October 14, 2012)
between Syria and Saudi Arabia have become diplomatically strained
because of Saudi Arabia's support for the rebels. Saudi Arabia
supports the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power. (NYT Sanger
October 14, 2012)
Saudi Arabia wants to keep their monarchy form of government and good
relations with its neighbors including the US
- The Saudis are
afraid that the people they rule over will want a democracy inside
Saudi Arabia instead of being ruled by a royal family. (NYT Chivers
October 14, 2012)
- Saudi Arabia
is attempting to increase their power and control and the Middle East
by ensuring that monarchies stay in power in neighboring countries. (NYT
Chivers October 14, 2012)
- If Saudi
Arabia wants to keep their people happy under the monarchy they will
have to spend a lot of money to enrich the lives of their citizens and
make them feel like a democracy would only put them further down.(NYT
Sanger October 14, 2012)
May 2012 Saudi Arabia formed the Gulf Cooperation Council with many of
its neighboring countries including Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and
the United Arab Emirates. Saudis have used this Council to try and
band together countries against the Democratic trend. (NYT Barnard
January 11, 2013)
- Saudi Arabia
has vast oil supplies that the United States depends upon heavily. In
January 2011 there was unrest in Tunisia and Egypt as both countries
found their leaders gone. King Abdullah spent some of his reserves to
the tune of $130 billion to insulate the royal family from growing
unrest in Saudi Arabia. (NYT Sanger October 14, 2012)
- Also putting
pressure on the monarchy of Saudi Arabia is the Arab spring, an
alliance of moderate Arab states that are willing to work with the US
and promote peace with Israel.
officials were unhappy with President Obama’s handling of the new
regime in Egypt and the United States was angry in March 2011 when the
Saudis sent 1000 troops to Bahrain to put down protest by the Shiites.
(NYT Sanger October 14, 2012)
- Saudi Arabia
is helping neighboring countries that also have monarchies put down
uprisings. For example Saudi troops came into Bahrain last year to
help the monarchy quell an uprising by the country's Shiite majority.
They want to do this by adding Morocco and Jordanian kingdoms. Saudi
Arabia is attempting to add Egypt to their group as well. (NYT Chivers
October 14, 2012)
2. What are the main factors affecting relations with Syria (trade,
religion including Sunni-Shia divide, proximity as in shared border, type
of government, history, current conflict with within Syria, etc.)?
- Saudi Arabia and Syria Don’t share a border but violence and
Syria is leading to a civil war which may bring outside involvement from
the UN and the United States which Saudi Arabia does not want.(Frontline)
-Saudi Arabia is supporting the Syrian Rebels because the new
government the rebels will form more closely resembles what Saudi Arabia
would like to see in the Middle East(Frontline)
-Saudi Arabia sees itself as the
protector of Syria’s Sunni majority in a country governed by Mr.
Assad’s Alawite minority (Citing U.S Fears: Arab Allies Limit Syrian
is not treating its people well
The UN announced in 2005 that 30% of the Syrian population lives in poverty and
11.4% live below the subsistence level.
(BBC World review 2013).
3. What recommendations do we (our country) have regarding what we
think should happen in the Syrian civil war?
-Since we support rebels, we think Assad needs to go (time for a
new leader) Leader should coincide with majority
-Many believe that Saudis are secretly providing money to extremist
groups to try to stop changes happening in the Arab world. (NYT Barnard
January 11, 2013
-many in Saudi Arabia want to take a stronger stand [give more
money and heavier arms to Syrian rebels (U.S. has discouraged this because
it fears the heavier weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists))
-Saudi Arabia will not go out on their own and take direct military
action at this time (feels without the help of the UN and the US, direct
military action would be unwise at this time)
Saudi Arabia would like to establish a new government in Syria that
will appeal to Saudis interests without plunging the region into violent
turmoil. Saudi Arabia has closed its embassy in Syria (NYT Barnard January
should happen to Assad?
is time for Assad to step down (he should be kicked out of office and a
new government should form)
-If Assad does not peacefully step down he should be driven out by
force if necessary
-“You can give the rebels AKs, but you can’t stop the
Syrian regime’s military with AKs,” said Khalid al-Attiyah, a state
minister for foreign affairs in Qatar. Providing the rebels with heavier
weapons “has to happen,” he added. “But first we need the backing of
the United States, and preferably the U.N.”
should the future government of Syria look like?
- Saudi Arabia feels that the
future government of Syria should be Sunni led
- Saudi Arabia is all about
business and a stable self-supporting government in Syria would
stabilize much of the Middle East
- -Stable self supporting
government that satisfies the majority of their people
-Should Assad go?
Yes it is time for Assad to step down.
We in Saudi Arabia have been funneling money and
small arms to Syria's rebels because we feel it is time for new leader in
Saudi Arabia sees itself as the protector of
Syria's Sunni majority in a country governed by Mr. Assads Alawite
Assad has not taking care of his people and hundreds of thousands
go hungry. 30% of the population is living in extreme poverty (BBC world
View 2013) –
Syria is using helicopters and warplanes to kill
rebels and unarmed civilians - over 30,000 people have died in Syria
Syria’s conflict has affected almost countries in the region
(especially Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan)
Iranian military is assisting Assad’s military
S.A. doesn’t want weapons to fall into the hands of terrorists
(al-qaeda attacks were worse in S.A. than the US)
”If the killing continues, the youth will not listen to wise
voices. They will find someone who will encourage them, and they will
go.” Salman al-Awda, prominent cleric
-What kind of pressure is appropriate?
So far Saudi Arabia has given money and small arms
but many are calling for a larger effort to overthrow the Syrian
Saudi Arabia is also paying the salaries of many
affected Syrian officers and financing medical assistance to Syrian
Saudi Arabia is sending weapons including Kalashnikov (AK- 47 semi- automatic rifle and modification, Ammunition,)
Supporting which groups: Rebels [Islamic Jihadists, Rafik Hariri
Brigade,Liwaa al-Islam(major funding,most powerful), ]-“The
opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are
exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” said one American official
familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation
that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry.
Rebel Arms Flow Said to Benefit Jihadists,
U.S is worried that when Saudi and others ship big guns in al-Qaeda
(who are also supporting weapons) will acquire weapons
-What should regional powers do?
Many in Saudi Arabia want to take a stronger stance and give
more money and heavier arms to Syria. Saudi Arabia has been discouraged by
the United States which fears heavier weapons could end up in the hands of
Saudi Arabia will
wait for the United States and the United Nations to get involved.
-Should support be given to groups?
Saudi Arabia is doing what we can to help the rebels to defeat
Assad. The Syrian government has tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets. The
UN has warned of rising tensions and has urged those supplying weapons on
both sides to stop doing so. Although Saudi Arabia is deeply concerned we
need the support of the UN and the United States.
-Should you take direct military action?
Saudi Arabia feels without the help of the UN and the United
States direct military action is unwise at this time. Saudi Arabia would
support the United States and the UN in their efforts. Saudi Arabia will
not go out on their own and take direct military action at this time.
Yes, safe zones
could be a definite help for the rebels and civilians. Safe zones will
allow refugees to find help and support, rebels will be able to better
organize, the wounded could get medical treatment, and civilians could
live without the fear of get shot at or bombed from above.
countries including NATO, UN, and ourselves support the idea of a safe
zone. Saudi Arabia feels that safe zones are a good idea but we need the
United States and the UN to support us in helping provide this for Syria.
dictator has refused to loosen his ruthless hold on power and he has shown
an unwillingness to and internal bloodshed. If the United States used air
power to impose a safe zone in northern Syria they could add a partial
no-fly zone and create a protected space for the civilians to find refuge
and humanitarian aid.
Arabia could provide critical training, equipment, and humanitarian aid in
the safe zones.
Saudi Arabia has provided money to Jordan and Turkey for the care
of Syrian refugees
Arab Spring View
Even though we ourselves have had an uprising on our hands, or
government changed for the greater good of our people.
Defense Concerning our Arab Spring
We are not proud of that part of our past, but every nation has a
flaw. Having a small population spread over all of Arabia, we had
overlooked our minority, Shiite.
We heard their demands, and even though violence did occur, our
government and King Abdullah have been compromising and granting requests.
We have seen that our people were unhappy and tried to change for
them, instead of utilizing violence for all that oppose us.
We in Saudi Arabia are modern and understand a good solid economy
and strong Islamic roots will prepare our people for the future no matter
their religious affiliations.
have even granted women the right to vote in the next election
believe that liberal democracy will be put in
place tomorrow but we have to start somewhere. Equality, the rule of law -
the country is ready for this. We have to start the process" ~Dr
Tawfik Alsaif, dissident campaigner
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