Riyadh seeks Islamabad backing in row with Tehran

Alwaght- In past few days the Saudi foreign and defense ministers have visited Islamabad in a bid to draw Pakistan support as  tension with Tehran continues to unfold.

The Saudi Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman has arrived in Pakistan on Sunday, January 10, to hold talks with Islamabad’s officials. The Pakistani ministry of defense has noted that Khawaja Asif, the Pakistani Minister of Defense, has personally received his Saudi counterpart, and the Saudi defense minister has headed to the Pakistani army’s headquarter upon his arrival, meeting with General Raheel Sharif, the chief of staff of  Pakistan’s army.

The visit aims at increasing the Islamabad-Riyadh’s military and defense cooperation, negotiating Pakistan’s participation in the so-called anti-terror Saudi Arabia’s military coalition and talking about West Asia’s issues, including the recent Saudi-Iranian tensions.

Before the defense minister’s visit, the Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir intended to arrive in Islamabad on January 3rd, starting a two-day visit to the country, but following a Saudi request, the trip was delayed for 5 days and Al-Jubeir arrived in Pakistan on January 7, amid the Pakistani people’s protests and anger at Al Saud’s divisive policies, as well as the kingdom’s “inhuman and anti-Islamic crimes”.

The visit’s major objective was announced to be seeking the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s and other Pakistan’s political and military leaders’ approval for taking part in the Saud-led counterterrorism military alliance. The Saudi foreign minister earlier had met with Pakistan’s army chief, the prime minster and the prime minister’s advisor for foreign affairs.

Not long ago, in a Riyadh summit, Mohamad bin Salman, the defense minister and deputy crown prince has announced that he had formed a military coalition for battling terrorism in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. The coalition has 34 members and the name of Pakistan is also included in the list.

According to the Pakistani news outlets, the Pakistani and Saudi authorities have discussed the current tensions between Tehran and Riyadh. Very little information has leaked out about the meeting held between Saudi Arabia’s Adel al-Jubeir, Raheel Sharif and the Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Sharif.

The Saudi foreign minister has claimed Pakistan’s stance on the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran was corresponding with that of Saudi Arabia, a claim considered as highly exaggerated. Because in all occasions al-Jubeir highlights the need for Islamabad to take part in the so-called anti-terrorism coalition, but the fact is that Pakistan’s position in this case has come in opposition to Saudi Arabia’s position and the Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, while reiterating Islamabad’s commitment for standing by Saudi Arabia against any violation of the kingdom’s sovereignty, has asked Tehran and Riyadh to settle their disputes through peaceful ways and consider the Muslims’ unity in this sensitive time.

Pakistan has announced that it would not decide on the degree of participation in the Saudi-led 34-member anti-terror military coalition before it receives its details from Saudi Arabia. However, no clear point has been included about Pakistan’s certain decision on the degree of participation in the anti-terror military coalition in a recent statement published by the Pakistani foreign ministry.

The fact is that Saudi Arabia is seeking to form an anti-terror coalition while it is a major supporter of such terror groups as Taliban, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Nusra Front and a couple of other terrorist organizations. In fact, such takfiri movements are an offspring of Saudi ruling family’s policies as well as Wahhabism’s teachings, and countries like the US, Britain, along with the Israeli regime, Turkey and Qatar are backing the kingdom’s policies, especially those which are leading to killing of ill-fated people of Syria and Yemen. It is impossible that this visit brings Riyadh any advantage because Islamabad is presently facing an increasing terrorism crisis internally, as it is busy intervening in Afghanistan, specifically in the Afghan Nangarhar and Helmand provinces.

All in all, it should be assumed that the Saudi officials’ objectives of the visits to Pakistan are not only to persuade Islamabad to be present in Saudi Arabia’s new anti-terror alliance but also to convince Pakistan to reduce and even cut off diplomatic ties with Iran, cooperate militarily, dispatch the army to fight in Yemen and Syria, wage a sectarian conflict and purport that the Muslim world is consensually stands in line with Riyadh, therefore, Saudi Arabia is now active in an array of fields which include the proxy war, psychological warfare, diplomatic combat, coalition forming and negative foreign policy rhetoric, and in a way, it is following, consciously or unconsciously, its psychological capacity for conflict.

The reality is that Saudi Arabia defines its existence through crisis creation, and crises and tensions serve the kingdom’s foreign policy and its existence.” It has been for several years that Saudi Arabia has moved away from its conventional policy which has been known for its conservatism, embarking on an aggressive and invasive policy. Such an issue must be viewed through deeper layers, like execution of Sheikh Nimr by the Saudi government.

The policy adopted by Saudi Arabia is based on fighting a war in all fronts and running a comprehensive confrontation against all of its environmental realities. Using the confrontation strategy, Saudi Arabia is seeking to counter all of the becoming processes”, said the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Hussein Jaber Ansari. This is coming while Iran’s policy is to deescalate tensions with the neighbors and the Islamic countries.

It should be concluded that it seems that the Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif would cautiously take a neutral standing in dealing with Iran-Saudi Arabia’s row, otherwise he would face big internal and external challenges. It would take some time to see what message bin Salman would receive from Islamabad’s politicians, and it seems that al-Jubeir’s defective dictation for Islamabad on Iran-Pakistan relations would yet to remain unimplemented.

By Alwaght