mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
What Is the Syrian Rebels’ Biggest Source of Cash?

Is it Qatar? Turkey? The CIA? A charity group in Saudi Arabia? A wealthy Lebanese businessman? Actually, according to (public) records, none of the above.

According to the official budget of the Syrian National Council, the top source of cash is Libya. The oil-rich country that just fought its own rebellion against a hated dictator is now helping Syria’s rebels topple their own government, the Financial Times reports:

According to a budget released by the Syrian National Council and posted to its website late on Sunday, the Libyan government contributed $20.3m of the $40.4m that the opposition umbrella group has amassed since its creation in August 2011.

Qatar gave $15m while the United Arab Emirates contributed $5m, according to the document. . .

Oil-rich Libya has emerged as one of the Syrian uprising’s firmest and earliest backers. Perhaps dozens if not hundreds of veterans of the Nato-backed rebel insurgency against Colonel Muammer Gaddafi have travelled to Syria to fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Its interim foreign minister said earlier this year that his government could not prevent or condemn Libyans heading to Syria to fight.

This looks like an effort by the Syrian National Council to use transparency to boost its credibility in the international community and among Syrians fighting the Assad regime.

It’s very clear, however, that these published figures reflect only a small part of the assistance flowing to Syrian rebels. Significant amounts of money and weapons are getting to fighters in Syria without the oversight of the Syrian National Council. No doubt there are other sets of books that tell a much different story.

And in Libya, no doubt, there are some people who think all that cash could be spent a little closer to home.

Features Icon
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service