By Daniel Shane
Interior Ministry says money sent through unofficial channels could reach 'suspicious destinations'
Authorities in Saudi Arabia have warned citizens against sending cash to embattled Syria that does not go through government-approved organisations, official media in the kingdom reported.
In a statement on Saudi Press Agency, the Interior Ministry warned that money sent through informal channels could reach “suspicious destinations” and could result in Saudi nationals being defrauded, without elaborating.
Syria is in the grip of a two-year long civil war over the rule of Bashar Al-Assad that has so far left more than 70,000 people dead, according to United Nations estimates.
Sunni Muslim-majority Saudi Arabia has openly backed Syria’s rebels in a conflict that has become divided across sectarian lines. Syria’s ruling family, the Assads, come from the Alwalite offshoot of Shia’a Islam, while the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states have predominantly sided with the rebels.
Gulf states including Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been vocal about doing more to arm the Syrian opposition, in addition to hosting live telethons in order to raise aids for those affected by the crisis. These same countries have also been irked by the West’s reluctance to take a more direct involvement in the war.
However, Gulf states are said to be alarmed by the increasing influence of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups in Syria’s civil war.
The Saudi Red Crescent Authority, the Muslim World League and the International Islamic Relief Organisation of Saudi Arabia are among the groups identified by the Saudi government as authorized to provide assistance to the affected Syrian people”.