Throughout 2012 and 2013, during which Syrian opposition groups received mostly rhetorical, rather than material, support from the United States and Western nations, Sunni politicians and clerics in the Arab Gulf raised millions for the rebellion, turning Kuwait into a regional hub for private donations.
Dozens of clerics and opposition politicians have held fundraisers and gatherings to raise money for the rebels, including Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. At the height of their efforts in 2012, everyone from housewives to schoolchildren was pitching in.
“There isn’t a bomb that explodes anywhere without some of its material financed by Kuwait,” argues Nabeel al-Fadhel, a liberal member of parliament whose campaign slogan was “Loyalty to Kuwait, Animosity to Ikhwan,” a term for the Muslim Brotherhood. “These poor, simple people think they are getting closer to God by giving this money, but it is going to places never dreamt up.”