Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have made peace after Yemen war rift: US security expert

Riedel believes that Army Chief General Raheel Sharif should be encouraged to help end the war in Yemen


Web Desk November 09, 2015
PHOTO: TWITTER

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have resumed friendly relations after the ‘somewhat cool’ period when Pakistan refused earlier this year to be part of the Saudi war in Yemen, according to Bruce Riedel, a former senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to the last four presidents of the United States.

Last week, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif visited Riyadh and held meetings with King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef and Defense Minister Prince Muhammad bin Salman, ending what the Saudi media dubbed as the ‘somewhat cool’ period.

Army chief arrives in Saudi Arabia on two-day official visit

Earlier in April, Pakistani parliament had unanimously decided against sending troops to join the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The two countries have for years enjoyed very close relations with Pakistan sending thousands of soldiers to the Kingdom in the 1980s to counter any attack by Iran. Similarly, Saudi Arabia has financed Pakistan’s nuclear programme.  The Kingdom is also home to 1.5 million Pakistanis who have moved there in search of employment. However, Saudi Arabia was heavily criticised in Pakistan after it requested assistance in the Yemen war.

Any threat to Saudi Arabia will evoke strong response from Pakistan: army chief

According to Riedel, army chief’s visit will greatly repair relations between the two countries. However, many Gulf royal families, especially in Abu Dhabi, have 'doubts about Pakistan’s reliability' despite having been offered reassurances that the country would come to the defense of the Kingdom and the two Holy cities, Makkah and Madinah.

Similarly, Riedel writes that many Pakistanis are closely monitoring the king’s son, Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who is also deputy crown prince as well as defense minister, as they have misgivings about the stability of the succession process in the Kingdom. The Saudi King has already removed one crown prince, his brother Prince Muqrin, this year without giving any explanations. Pakistanis are also aggrieved over the Saudi response to the Mina stampede during Hajj this year which left dozens of Pakistanis dead.

Pakistan welcomes end of Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen

With General Raheel Sharif set to visit Washington later this month, Riedel believes that he should be encouraged to help end the war in Yemen as Pakistan could play an important role in any peace agreement by providing security forces to oversee a ceasefire. He further maintains that given Pakistan’s long history of sending troops to the United Nations peacekeeping missions and its experience in managing Sunni-Shia tensions, Pakistan’s involvement in any peace process in Yemen would be essential.

This article originally appeared on Brookings

COMMENTS (15)

Sandip | 7 years ago | Reply @MK: Are there any positive foreign policy news when it comes to Pakistan? Please, no pats on your own backs.
Observer | 7 years ago | Reply I fail to understand why do we need a former US lawmaker endorse our foreign relations. We make or break our relations should be solely our own decision just like how parliament decided in a democratic fashion. That makes us a sovereign nation. It is obvious to those who are little bit familiar with war planning, middle east situation, and history of gulf countries ceremonial armies, that going to Yemen war was Saudi Arabia's one of the biggest strategic and political mistake for years to come. We should only help Saudi Arabia to come out of this quagmire, without being militarily involved in any possible form.
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