New information indicated that Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan will lead his country’s extraterritorial military force in a bid to conduct terrorist operations in Syria and Yemen.
The Saudi extraterritorial force named ‘Muhammad Army’ is being established and its forces have undergone specialized trainings and it is fully equipped, Al-Rai Al-A’am news website reported.
Prince Bandar and his brother and Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Salman Bin Sultan are supervising establishment of the ‘Muhammad Army’. The Saudi government has earmarked several billions of dollars for the establishment of Muhammad Army, training of the army’s forces in Jordan.
It is said that the Muhammad Army will be Saudi Arabia’s strike force in Syria and it might also be deployed for war against Yemen’s Al-Houthi movement which is now in combat against the Salafi groups in Damaj region in Northern Yemen, particularly given the fact that the Al Saud is a staunch supporter of Yemen’s Salafi groups.
Military sources in London said that Muhammad Army comprises 50,000 men and it might expand to a 250,000-strong force, adding that the Muhammad Army’s headquarters will be in Jordan.
Head of the so-called Syrian National Coalition Ahmed Al-Jerba was the first to expose Saudi Arabia’s plan and in a statement on August 8 said that Saud Arabia will form a national army outside Syria.
Meantime, the western sources revealed that Saudi Arabia also plans to replace Pakistan with Egypt as a backup military power so that Riyadh can rely on that country in case of facing any foreign threats.
The Al Saud also plans to provide financial support for Egyptian Defense Minister Major General Abdelfattah Al-Sisi, the sources said.
The western sources said that Major General Al-Sisi had good relations with Saudi military officials when he was a military attaché in Riyadh.
“Al-Sisi’s recent inclination towards Russia to purchase missiles and Mig-29 fighter jets was the result of Saudi Arabia’s persuasion after the US suspended its military aid to Egypt,” the sources added.
Earlier reports had already disclosed that the Saudi spy chief, a former Ambassador to Washington, is trying hard to push US officials to Syria war.
The Saudis are “indispensable partners on Syria” and have considerable influence on American thinking, a senior US official told The Wall Street Journal late August.
Prince Bandar has been gone from the US capital for eight years, but as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington wielded influence over no fewer than five different US presidents, has re-emerged as a pivotal figure in the struggle by America and its allies to tilt the battlefield balance against Syria.
Appointed by the Saudi King, his uncle, last year as the head of the Saudi General Intelligence Agency, Prince Bandar has reportedly for months been focused exclusively on garnering international support, including arms and training, for militants in Syria in pursuit of the eventual toppling of the Syrian government.
It is a long-term Saudi goal that in the past several days has been subsumed by the more immediate crisis over the alleged use of chemical weapons by Damascus, which, according to Riyadh, must be met by a stern response. That message is being delivered to President Barack Obama by the current Saudi Ambassador in Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, who is a Bandar protégé.
It was Prince Bandar’s intelligence agency that first alerted western allies to the alleged use of sarin gas by the Syrian government in February, while later reports proved that rebels had used the gas.
While a trip in August to the Kremlin to try to cajole President Vladimir Putin into withdrawing his support for President Bashar al-Assad reportedly failed, Prince Bandar automatically has greater leverage in western capitals, not least because of friendships forged during his time in Washington. His most recent travels, rarely advertised, have taken him to both London and Paris for discussions with senior officials.
As ambassador, Prince Bandar left an imprint that still has not quite faded. His voice was one of the loudest urging the United States to invade Iraq in 2003.
Months of applying pressure on the White House and Congress over Syria have slowly born fruit. The CIA is believed to have been working with Prince Bandar directly since last year in training militants at base in Jordan close to the Syrian border.