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

Published: November 9, 2015


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

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Sandip
    Nov 9, 2015 - 7:01PM

    “its experience in managing Sunni-Shia tensions”.
    C’mon Mr. Riedel. Pakistan is probably one of the worse in this regard. Look at the number of massacres that the Shias have had to endure at the hands of establishment’s progenies.Recommend

  • MK
    Nov 9, 2015 - 8:49PM

    Sandip: How about managing Muslim-Hindu tensions? Which your government’s hands are covered in blood with?

    Its a shame that you cannot stand any positive foreign policy related news with regards to Pakistan. Get over it. Recommend

  • shazada zahid malik-loan
    Nov 9, 2015 - 10:10PM

    There was a great misunderstanding between the competing interests of the United States/Europeans and other less well known actors such as Indi It was important for Pakistan to stay out of the problems in Yemen in order to help the two sides after the war. The Indian Hiduja dog, Sandip, does not understand politics and was unfortunately quick to score a point – he did not. The Pakistani politics is centred on the Muslim Ummaha and not the narrow interests of the Hinduja. The many Hindujas are working in Audi Arabia (and the other Gulf states) under the guise of being Muslims and being the loyal friends of the Arabs but to the contrary they have been plotting with the Zionist/Crusader state to overpower them. The Hindujas cannot never be friends of the Muslims – Arabs and some Afghans (especially the Farsi speaking) needs to realise that.Recommend

  • Bewildered
    Nov 9, 2015 - 10:40PM


    “Shias have had to endure at the hands of establishment’s progenies”

    Funny. Rather ironic. And look at India. A mass murderer, “The Butcher of Gujarat” is elected as the Prime Minister by the masses like yourself, while in Pakistan Malik Ishaq, the head of LeJ, is shot along with all his family by the police. And still you have the audacity to point finger towards Pakistan. What kind of sub-human you Indians are.Recommend

  • Woz ahmed
    Nov 9, 2015 - 11:46PM

    Good relations with Saudi are essential, 1.5 million of our breathren earn their living there, also recently they gave us $1.5 billion ‘gift’.

    There is no doubt a price to pay, madrasah funding and balancing Iranian relationships.

    Time will tell, but we must avoid being another countries pawn.Recommend

  • zoro
    Nov 10, 2015 - 12:05AM

    People of the world still wonder what happened to the minorities in Pakistan …. why they suddenly stand … disappeared ….Recommend

  • usman778
    Nov 10, 2015 - 12:44AM

    here is why someone like @sandip makes these comments, when pak made the yemen decision they were happy that sadui pak relations hit a bump.

    now they don’t like thise news because they want to isolate pak.

    but pak will live forever.Recommend

  • ajeet
    Nov 10, 2015 - 2:08AM

    From when have Muslims remained in peace with other religions or even among themselves?Recommend

  • David Salmon
    Nov 10, 2015 - 3:07AM

    Peacekeeping forces in Yemen?? Isn’t that a bit like peacekeeping forces in Syria? Or FATA?

    But Yemen could use a modern government structure. Perhaps Pakistan could offer a levy of bureaucrats.Recommend

  • Another Indian
    Nov 10, 2015 - 3:08AM

    @Bewildered..let me enlighten you a bit.. Minorities were 17% in Pakistan during partition and its less than 2% now. I guess you haven’t heard about forceful conversion of minorities to Islam. How about this – thousands of Pundits were slaughtered in Kashmir by your assets and you have the audacity to call someone else sub-human? Creatures like you don’t deserve a life on this planet.

    ET please publish.Recommend

  • Another indian
    Nov 10, 2015 - 3:15AM

    @MK.. Thousands of Hindus come to India as refugees from Pakistan and not a single Muslim from India has ever sought refugee status in Pakistan nor anywhere else. So which government has blood on its hands?

    Let me know if you need a hint…

    ET.. Please publish..Recommend

  • Mrs HighBall
    Nov 10, 2015 - 5:02AM

    @Woz ahmed: That will only happen after all Pakistanis, or rather those that are eligible, pay their taxes.Recommend

  • Mrs HighBall
    Nov 10, 2015 - 5:03AM

    @Woz ahmed: That will only happen after all Pakistanis, or rather those that are eligible, pay their taxes.Recommend

  • Observer
    Nov 10, 2015 - 8:15AM

    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.Recommend

  • Sandip
    Nov 11, 2015 - 7:42AM

    @MK: Are there any positive foreign policy news when it comes to Pakistan? Please, no pats on your own backs.Recommend

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