Wednesday, March 5, 2014

'The Saudis and Pakistan’s strategic shift on Syria'

Saudis whipping sectarian warfare in the Mideast. In the FT.
"At the behest of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan has made a strategic shift from its so far neutral position on Syria’s civil war – to one that portends to back the Syrian rebels and even provide them with arms through Riyadh.
The shift will have serious regional consequences as it has already deeply antagonised Iran, which supports the Syrian regime, and angered Pakistan’s large Shia community which could prompt further sectarian conflict. It is also bad news for Afghanistan, where Pakistan-Iran rivalry may restart once US troops leave that country.
Saudi Arabia is on a diplomatic offensive to woo all those Muslim states who have held a neutral position – to one where they fall in line with the Gulf Arab states that want an interim government in Damascus and the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. All the Gulf states are petrified of Iran, fear its potential nuclear weapons capability and deeply distrust the Americans for their recent overtures to Tehran.
However, if Saudi Arabia which practices Wahabbism – an extreme form of Sunni Islam – gets its way, it could put more Muslim states on a collision course with Shia Iran. It would also involve them in taking sides in the Shia-Sunni divide that has escalated recently and has already plunged the Middle East and Pakistan into sectarian bloodbaths.
Further divisions along sectarian lines are dangerous in what is already a fragile Muslim world, because they further polarise Islamic countries and turn Shias into more of a persecuted minority everywhere. That means the plight of other minorities in Arab states such as Christians and Jews could be further jeopardised.
Media reports say that the Saudis would buy small arms from Pakistan’s arms industry and that it would recruit more Pakistani retired soldiers and policemen for the Gulf state of Bahrain that has been facing long months of unrest as Shia protests against the Sunni ruling family have escalated ..."

No comments: