This is one of those “It may be sorta technically true, but it’s a complete lie in every other sense of the word.”
Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion Tuesday that no Saudis are fighting in Syria raised eyebrows, but the State Department said later the point he was making was that the kingdom is not actively involved in the conflict in the same way Iran is on the regime’s side.
“We do not believe it is appropriate for the Assad regime to have invited the Iranians and Hezbollah to cross international lines and to have their fighters on the ground,” Kerry said. “There are no United States fighters. There are no Saudi fighters. There are no Qatari fighters on the ground.”
Kerry is obviously channeling Baghdad Bob here. And you can see why since they do have some things in common. There are plenty of Saudi fighters on the ground. They are being armed by the Saudi and Qatari governments. But they just aren’t officially part of the Saudi military.
The distinction here is mostly meaningless. Iran was originally playing the same game in Syria, refusing to admit that its Revolutionary Guard was on the ground. And Hezbollah is a terrorist group. It certainly balances out the Al Nusra Front.
Qatari trainers are on the ground in Jordan providing training to the rebels. If Obama pulls a No Fly Zone, they will be officially on the ground in Syria. And they probably are already anyway.
Kerry’s complaint is nothing short of bizarre considering that the United States has been arming and training Syrian Jihadists. Does he consider it appropriate to arm and train fighters, but not appropriate to actually go to the next step and send actual troops in? The distinction becomes minor after a while. A legalism. A question of degree.
Turkey and Qatar are waging war on Syria. The war is part of a regional religious war between Sunnis and Shiites with Iran on one side and the Sunni Islamists of Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the other.
What exactly does Kerry expect? Both sides have fighters on the ground. Obama Inc. has just chosen to back the Sunni terrorists over the Shiite terrorists. But let’s not pretend that represents some kind of moral high ground.