Middle East | M.K. Bhadrakumar responds: It suits everyone to pretend this is a solo Saudi act

M.K. Bhadrakumar responds: It suits everyone to pretend this is a solo Saudi act

M.K. Bhadrakumar March 28, 2015 9:57 PM (UTC+8)
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It suits everyone to pretend this is a solo Saudi act. Without tacit American consent, this act is inconceivable. In all probability the air strikes in Yemen depend on US intelligence inputs. Two, a GCC coalition is already at work in Bahrain and this is not the first time that the Saudis have created the illusion of collective security. Three, Saudi money prompts other Arab states to lend their name to the ‘coalition’, but the hardcore players are Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. So much for the unity of the Sunnis. Period. Four, Turkey and Saudi Arabia cannot have a meeting of minds because Turkey never accepted the British puppet being propped up as the Custodian of the Holy Places in succession to the Caliph. Now, the mutual dislike is far too well-known to be narrated. Five, it is all Israeli propaganda — and the version of the compliant western press — that Erdogan is in deep trouble, et al. He has many options other than Saudi Arabia even if he is with his back against the wall. To my mind, he is going strong and will continue with his anti-Israel, anti-American posturing which endears him to the regional audience. Turkey will never intervene in Yemen and Erdogan is going ahead with his visit to Iran.

it is useful to refresh memory that Yemen and Saudi Arabia have scores to settle. Iran may not have to do much to see that the Saudis end up in a quagmire. I feel Iran anticipates such an eventuality. Iran will never get involved directly in Yemen. Historically, Iran’s relations with Yemen have been patchy. But Yemen matters to Iran because Shi’ite empowerment in yet another country brings the tsunami to the Saudi doorstep. By the way, the Houthis are hardened fighters and they will be fighting for their homeland. They don’t need Iranian advisors. They will be highly motivated. They have a long border with Saudi Arabia. Besides, Yemeni tribal politics is incredibly complex. As you know, Saudis had thought that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was their man, but now they realise that he is with the Houthis. How fast the alignments changed! As for the Pakistani role, to my mind (and information), Bruce Riedel didn’t read the tea leaves correctly as regards Nawaz Sharif’s summons to travel to Riyadh post-haste a month ago.The Sharif family has massive business interests in Saudi Arabia and Sharif is in no position to defy the Saudi diktat. Apart from Pakistan, there is no other participant who is capable of fighting a protracted guerilla war. Kuwait, UAE, Tunisia, Jordan? You must be joking. Egypt is barely coping with the Sinai. And even for Pakistan, once the body bags begin returning to Pakistan, it remains to be seen how long Sharif can remain impervious to Pakistan’s own interests. Money cannot have the final say. The only solution will be a UN mediation to have a consensus reached on power-sharing, which is what Iran and Russia are aiming at. But if the Saudis press ahead, there is going to be big trouble ahead. And for a UN role, US will have to take Russian help. That will be a bitter pill to swallow for Washington.

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M.K. Bhadrakumar
MK Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings including India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). He writes the “Indian Punchline” blog and has written regularly for the Asia Times since 2001.
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