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Middle East Crisis
Which Way Will Pakistan Go?

Rumors and conflicting reports are swirling out of Islamabad as to whether the sole Sunni nuclear power and one of the largest militaries in the Middle East will get involved in the growing conflict in Yemen. Reuters reports:

Pakistan will send troops to Saudi Arabia to give military support to a coalition of mainly Gulf states fighting Yemeni Houthi rebels, a senior government official said on Monday. […]

Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaj Asif denied that the country had made a decision to send troops to Saudi Arabia, saying a delegation led by him and foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, would go to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and then decide.

On the one hand, the Pakistani government has been making the kind of calls for international, multilateral peace talks that usually indicate a desire to do nothing meaningful. And certainly all the official declarations from Islamabad late last week seemed to indicate a desire to preserve Pakistan’s neutrality in a proxy war between its large, aggressive neighbor (Iran) and one of its leading patrons and fellow Sunni powers (Saudi Arabia).

But Saudi Arabia didn’t send billions in aid to Pakistan for nothing, and it appears Riyadh has been insistent that Pakistan officially commits. To that end, a high-level Pakistani defense delegation winged its way to Riyadh. PM Nawaz Sharif reportedly offered the Saudi king “all potentials of the Pakistan army” in a telephone call over the weekend. And now this report has emerged—which, though officially denied, seems at least plausible given the circumstances.

We’ve said before that the last thing that the emerging sectarian conflict in the Middle East needs is more Pakistan. But as the conflagration grows and with a U.S security umbrella conspicuously absent, such an outcome grows more and more likely.

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  • Pete

    Things are getting real interesting.

  • Fat_Man

    “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

  • Corlyss

    “Saudi Arabia didn’t send billions in aid to Pakistan for nothing”
    No surprise that so many of the al Qaeda people come from both countries. If the US were put in a position where retaliation were required, it would be aimed at Pakistan, not Saudi Arabia, even though it’s Saudi $$$ that grows Wahabism which in turn produces radicals that want to destroy American influence in the region.

  • gabrielsyme

    We should be quite concerned with the aggressive Sunni intervention in the Yemen. As has been witnessed in Syria, there is a feeling abroad in Sunni lands that now is the time to crush the Shiites. We can hope that the Saudis and others will engineer merely a Sunni ascendency where the Shia are locked out of political power in places such as the Yemen, Syria and Lebanon as they are in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia itself. But we do need to attend to the possibility that the Saudis will use allied militias and even AQAP to reduce the Shiite population to what would be seen as a more manageable size.

    We should not forget that ideologically and religiously the Saudis and ISIS are extremely close, and it isn’t difficult to imagine the Saudis will be similarly willing to use atrocities to achieve their aims.

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