Saudi Arabia has been quietly involved in the Syrian civil war since its beginning. The Saudis found Hafez al-Assad to be a reasonable man to work with (which is an interesting comment on Saudi Arabia, given that Hafez was a Baathist who ordered the massacre of the entire city of Hama to put down a rebellion), but find his son Bashar to be too inconsistent.
Reportedly, the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, for the Saudis, was the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri by Hezbollah in 2005. The Saudis had sponsored Hariri, and with Hezbollah being a close partner with Damascus, Bashar al-Assad and his allies were seen as responsible. Given that Lebanese security was a Syrian responsibility under the Taif Accords of 1989, that also pointed to Assad being at least complicit in the assassination. As such, early on the Saudis began to support the Free Syrian Army.
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