By Maria Vesnovskaya
Moscow is concerned about reports by Israeli media about the deployment of Qatari and British special forces in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday, adding that the information is yet to be confirmed. In any case, he said, this is an alarming development. His statement came after Israeli web portal Debkafile reported the alleged presence of Qatari and British troops in Syria. Experts say that similar information “leaks” also occurred shortly before NATO’s military operation in Libya was launched.
According to Debkafile reports, Qatari and British special forces are assisting militants based in Holms while avoiding taking a direct part in the hostilities. They are also providing logistic support to Syria’s militants, Debkafile reports, adding that Qatari and British special forces are also cooperating with Turkish authorities which are apparently assisting Syrian rebels. Alex Kogan of the IzRus website, however, remains sceptical about what he describes as “deliberate misinformation.”
“I think that this is a spoof story”, Kogan says, who believes that the misinformation has been deliberately spread across Syria as an excuse for the Syrian army’s inability to crack down on the rebels.
By contrast, Tel Aviv-based political analyst Alexander Eterman insists that the presence of foreign special forces in Syria is an “open secret.” According to him, these forces were deployed to Syria in August 2011 when the situation there sharply escalated. Britain was not the only country to have dispatched its special forces to Syria, Eterman argues.
It is common knowledge that Britain, Israel, the US, and France have sent their units of special forces into Syria, Eterman says. But what we are witnessing at the moment is simply a presence of these forces on Syrian soil, rather then a military intervention, he adds. Right now, other countries are closely watching the developments taking place in Syria, and the next few weeks may well finally see them mulling over a use of force against Syria because the violence there is unlikely to abate. Noone wants to see a civil war in Syria, which is why a military intervention could eventually be on the cards, Eterman concludes.
Vladimir Isayev of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, says that if confirmed, Debkafile’s report could mean that Syria’s sovereignty has been violated.
If these reports are confirmed, we could be talking about blatant aggression against Syria and interference in its domestic affairs, Isayev says. In light of this, Syria could turn to any country for help and resort to any means in order to kill or capture these foreign occupants, which would be something that would help prove the fact of aggression against a sovereign state. And under this possible scenario, the international community would hardly be able to voice objection, Isayev goes on to say.
At the same time, he has not ruled out that Debkafile’s report is little more than “deliberately misleading information” which Isayev says resembles the situation in Libya prior to the invasion, where, according to reports by a number of media outlets, British and Qatari special forces were also operating. Isayev’s view has been echoed by many other experts who believe that the obvious similarity between the current developments in Syria and the event which took place in Libya prior to the Western invasion is no coincidence. They believe that the Arab League’s latest actions confirm this view.
The Arab League has just announced that it would be prepared to consider deeming President Assad’s opponents “Syria’s legal representatives” as early as next week.