The House of Saud’s new capo di tutti I capi, King Salman, brought Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Riyadh – rushing to meet him at the airport – apparently to talk about Yemen.
Well, that’s the cover story. The real thing was that Salman was eager to confirm a key strategic, secret nuclear agreement before any diplomatic Iran/P5+1 deal pulling back Iran’s nuke program is clinched.
The bottom line, according to a discreet Saudi source: The House of Saud does not trust the American nuclear umbrella anymore. They are making their own nuclear power play with the help of nuclear power Pakistan. The connection has always existed, but remains extremely mysterious.
Sharif, a very wily operator, said Pakistan would not contribute troops to “help” the House of Saud’s interests in Yemen.
What he did not say is that he knows the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration is desperate for a nuclear deal with Iran – Obama’s only foreign policy “victory” in sight.
Thus Washington does not want Pakistan to upset the negotiations even slightly – with the possibility of Pakistani troops being deployed outside of Saudi Arabia, and against Iranian interests.
So what’s really goin’ on?
Here’s Sharif from a Saudi perspective.
He was a political refugee in Riyadh, very well protected until he returned to Pakistan. I still remember the nasty gallows he had to endure in the Grand Trunk Road, near Peshawar, before his Saudi exile.
Sharif – and Pakistan – receive a lot of heavily discounted oil from Saudi Arabia. Islamabad does rely on Riyadh for help on an endless stream of political and financial troubles.
Saudi Arabia is the preferred market for over one million Pakistani workers that are essential to sustain Pakistan’s balance of payments. They have absolutely nowhere to go to outside the Gulf Cooperation Council states.
Remember the BCCI bank? Well, one of the reasons for its existence was to finance the Pakistani nuclear weapons program.
So why say no to the capo? Well, wily Sharif is playing a complex three-way game with the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia. He cannot afford to enrage the hyperpower. He cannot afford to directly antagonize Tehran. After all, construction of the IP (Iran-Pakistan) gas pipeline will resume as soon as sanctions go.
But wanna bet on who’s got the greatest leverage over Islamabad?
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