Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said earlier in the day that Arab countries had disbursed $137 billion to finance illegal armed groups fighting in his country.
"Official Damascus will have to negotiate with the Gulf monarchies, with Turkey and other states because it needs enormous sums to revive the country. It will be very difficult to do it without the Arab countries and Ankara," said Ruslan Mamedov, coordinator of Middle East programs of the Russian Council on International Affairs, a think tank.
"I think Damascus is pragmatic enough to see that it would be much better to involve these countries in the restoration process," he said, adding that the Gulf monarchies and Turkey, in turn, would seek cooperation with Damascus as it is winning the war.
According to Mamedov, it is next to impossible either to calculate the exact sum that came to militants in Syria from foreign sponsors or to identify exact sources of financing. "The existence of an external fact is unquestionable. The question is to what extent and who really is responsible for that," he noted. "Syria’s intelligence services have been severely impacted during the war and it will take a titanic effort to retrieve all the documents."
Another Russian expert, Vladimir Fitin of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank, shares the opinion that it is highly improbable to establish overall financing of Syrian anti-government forces from foreign sources. "It is hard to comment this sum ($137 billion - TASS), as it cannot be proved by anyone," he noted, adding that in any event the sums spent to finance Damascus’ opponents were lavish.
"All the groups that confronted President Bashar Assad’s government, even those internationally recognized as terrorist organizations, let alone the so-called moderate opposition, were sponsored by Arab countries," he said. "Arab countries supplied weapons and munitions, sent advisers and established camps for training militants in Jordan and in Syrian regions outside Damascus’ control.".