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Thread: Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan make a difficult triangle….

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    Researcher Pksecurity's Avatar
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    Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan make a difficult triangle….

    Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia make a very complex triangle of relationships. Unfortunately, Pakistan can enjoy good relationships with only one of them. Our strategic compulsions, however, do not allow us to abandon any one of them. Iran is Pakistan’s Western neighbor and sits on the periphery of Pakistan’s most troubled province, Balochistan. Iran has a Balochistan of its own and figures in the international conspiracies to carve out an Independent Balochistan comprising Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan. Jundullah, an anti-Iran terrorist group operating from Pakistan is sponsored and funded by the CIA. Pakistan has to collaborate with Iran to fight and neutralize separatist elements in Balochistan.

    Iran holds the key to regional peace; Afghanistan being center of gravity. Iran has its stakes and influence in non-Pashtun Afghanistan. It has military ties with India and its Chabahar port, very close to Gwadar, was built by India to encircle Pakistan, in line with its strategic objectives. If Pakistan antagonizes Iran, it risks increased Indian influence on its West and South-West. It will be a tough task with India all poised to assume greater role in Afghanistan after NATO drawdown of troops. It may be kept in mind that in order to develop Chabahar port, India has already built road infrastructure on Iran-Afghanistan border spending $750 million which will provide an access to Central Asia from Iran and neutralize the positive outcome of Gwadar port for Pakistan. It is for this reason that India and US are investing funds in Balochistan insurgency to prevent Pakistan and China from taking advantage of Gwadar. Gwadar will only be useful after Pakistan build roads and rail infrastructure in Balochistan which, given the intensity of insurgency, is not possible for Pakistan anytime soon.

    Pakistan’s geo-strategic location is very interesting. It is very close to the mouth of Strait of Hormuz and every ship carrying all oil for East of Pakistan passes through North Arabian Sea i.e. Pakistan’s territorial waters. Any tension in the region and an imminent clash of interest of the world with Iran will direct impact Pakistan’s economic, political and strategic stability.

    Pakistan is an energy deficient country. The natural answer to this problem is import of gas from Iran for which IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project was initiated. Fearing incidental benefits of this project to China and also under US pressure, India is already out of this project. Pakistan is also under immense US pressure to abandon the project and concentrate on a very unfeasible TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project. Pakistan has yet not abandoned IP project and is a target of fury of US and its allies. Though Pakistan is still a part of the deal but its lukewarm response is already frustrating Iran. Any delay in launching the pipeline project will cost Pakistan Iran’s goodwill.

    Another difficult development is Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear program. This also threatens the regional peace with India and Pakistan already in possession of nuclear capabilities. Iran’s nuclear program threatens Israel and the US-Israel nexus can go to any limit to deprive Iran of this capability.

    This is where the Saudi strategic interests figure in. Saudi Arabia has been Iran’s traditional adversary. These adversarial relationships were under wraps prior to 1979 when both the countries were America’s Cold War allies but the these adversarial relationships intensified after Iran was ruled by religious clergy whose religious beliefs are opposed to those of Saudi Arabia. Both the countries have not fought any war so far but they are in proxy war since 1979 and the battle field, unfortunately, has been Pakistan. Sectarian violence intensified in Pakistan causing deaths and bitterness and polarizing Pakistani society. Saudi Arabia does not approve of Pakistan’s close relations with Iran and tries to drive wedge between the two neighboring countries. Increased attacks on Hazaras of Balochistan and other Shia pilgrims by pro-Saudi extremists outfits is a clear indication that Saudi Arabia can go to any limit to teach Pakistan a lesson for its Iran relations.

    Iran’s nuclear program is viewed a direct threat, not only to Israel but also Saudi Arabia and its allies. Recent troubles in Bahrain against the ruling regime supported by Saudi Arabia triggered under Iranian influence played a great part in further worsening Iran-Saudi Arabia relationships. It is generally assumed that any possible strike on Iran’s nuclear installations will have a tacit approval and support of Saudi Arabia. There were rumors in the recent past that Saudi Arabia had offered Israel to use its airspace for aerial attacks on Iran.

    Pakistan’s economy depends on Saudi Arabia in more than one way. Nearly 60% of foreign remittances, a life blood for Pakistan’s economy, come for Pakistani diaspora working in Saudi Arabia and its allied countries. These workers not only bring petro-dollars, they also harbor close sympathy with these Arab countries. This gives a great leverage to Saudi Arabia to meddle in Pakistan’s affairs directly and also through right-wing clergy funded by Saudis. This clergy was strengthened in Afghan jihad through massive donations which promoted Wahabi Islam and its violent side in Pakistan. The extremists in Pakistan are still sympathetic to Saudi Arabia and derive strength from its religious policies of intolerance.

    In addition to this, Pakistan has to depend on Saudi oil to power its economy which is available on deferred payments. Saudi Arabia is practically a US-satellite country. Pakistan often uses Saudi influence to reach out to the US in difficult times. Like other financial institutions, Saudis also extend economic cooperation to Pakistan when it is approved of by the US.

    Saudis are suspicious of the current regime in Pakistan and are apprehensive of its pro-Shia policies. They think that PPP government is playing a dual role; trying to please both Iran and Saudi Arabia. The space created by this suspicion is proactively being filled by India which worries Pakistan. Saudi Arabia was visibly unhappy over the closure of NATO supplies for such a long period. The Saudi decision to hand over Mumbai attack suspect to India was pressurize Pakistan to come to terms with the US, and by implication with Saudi Arabia.

    This situation is a cause of concern for Pakistan’s security establishment. It cannot afford to annoy Saudi Arabia for economic and political reasons. Warming up of Saudis to India is another cause of concern. As for Iran, it was never a reliable friend for a variety of reasons but it could have been kept in good humor had Saudi-Iran standoff not caught Pakistan. India is building bridges with Pakistan’s friends; Afghanistan is already hostile and has traditionally been a safe haven for anti-Pakistan elements of all hues, including Baloch nationalists. In this situation, Iran can be a source of more worries if it keeps annoying international community. It could be even more worrisome if it repairs its relationship with India after the recent banning of Iranian oil in Indian waters and India’s jumping the IPI ship.
    Please also read: The Passive Voices: Pakistan caught between Iran and Saudi Arabia
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    Last edited by Pksecurity; 30th July 2012 at 20:07. Reason: formatting

  2. #2
    Member Armstrong's Avatar
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    Pk, a good read as always though I do wonder how much of that is substantiated by cold hard facts and how much is 'informed speculation' ?

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    Member Pickwickian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Armstrong View Post
    Pk, a good read as always though I do wonder how much of that is substantiated by cold hard facts and how much is 'informed speculation' ?
    Well like all good journalism, they'll be a bit of both.

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    Administrator Aryan_B's Avatar
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    Pakistan is in a difficult position and has little choice and must follow it's national interest. Both Iran and Saudi must allow Pakistan breathing space.
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    Retired AgNoStIc MuSliM's Avatar
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    "It cannot afford to annoy Saudi Arabia for economic and political reasons."

    But does Pakistan really have any significant long term economic and political advantages to gain from Saudi Arabia? Most commentators appear to agree that Saudi 'aid' for Pakistan has dried up significantly during the current Zardari government. The Saudi interest in Pakistan, to me, appears to derive primarily from their animosity with Iran, which in turn suggests that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have little long term common interests.

    With the Iranians however, given that they are neighbors, we can build a significant long term economic and security relationship (even ignoring the Gawadar and Chabahar contest) based on oil, gas and electricity imports from Iran, and negotiating increased market access for Pakistani products.

    Have to run or I would expound on this a little more ...
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    Banned RaptorRX's Avatar
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    If Iran and Saudi Arabia doesn't get along well, Pakistan has fully right reserve to nuke them in order to reduce racism issues and history complex in both countries.

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    Researcher Pksecurity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaptorRX707 View Post
    If Iran and Saudi Arabia doesn't get along well, Pakistan has fully right reserve to nuke them in order to reduce racism issues and history complex in both countries.
    I hope you are not serious, sir
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    Member Armstrong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgNoStIc MuSliM View Post
    "It cannot afford to annoy Saudi Arabia for economic and political reasons."

    But does Pakistan really have any significant long term economic and political advantages to gain from Saudi Arabia? Most commentators appear to agree that Saudi 'aid' for Pakistan has dried up significantly during the current Zardari government. The Saudi interest in Pakistan, to me, appears to derive primarily from their animosity with Iran, which in turn suggests that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have little long term common interests.

    With the Iranians however, given that they are neighbors, we can build a significant long term economic and security relationship (even ignoring the Gawadar and Chabahar contest) based on oil, gas and electricity imports from Iran, and negotiating increased market access for Pakistani products.

    Have to run or I would expound on this a little more ...
    Yes but the thing with Iran is that Pakistan cozying up to them doesn't just result in alienating Saudi Arabia but also, by extension, the rest of the Arab world which incidentally is Sunni majority or controlled by a Sunni majority (Bahrain !). At the same time just as there are aspersions flying about on how KSA has, in the past, funded extremism in Pakistan there are also assertions that suggest that Iran too has exported her revolution to Pakistan with both of them fighting an ideological war within the geographical boundaries of Pakistan.

    I would think, that if there is truth to those narratives, it would make more sense for Pakistan to have a neutral view of sorts in case of the Iran vs KSA rivalry and even try to play whatever role we can in diffusing any confrontational situations that may arise.

    Additionally it would also make sense for Pakistan to have greater economic and people-to-people relations with Iran just as we already enjoy good, with the potential for more, economic and people-to-people relations with KSA, but a security relationship, I think, would be a step too far and would introduce an 'Us vs Them' paradigm to the equation with either of KSA or Iran asking, in a way, 'whose side are you on ?'.
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    Senior Moderator Superkaif's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaptorRX707 View Post
    If Iran and Saudi Arabia doesn't get along well, Pakistan has fully right reserve to nuke them in order to reduce racism issues and history complex in both countries.
    Brother - i think we may be getting a bit over excitable and maybe the fasting is getting to you.
    Pakistan are indeed in a quandary - i think time and breathing space needed to make rational decisions
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    Forum Administrator bilalhaider's Avatar
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    I've said this in another thread, but i guess it applies here as well:

    I believe no matter how much Pakistan-Saudi ties go downhill, they will be significant 'partners', for a bunch of different reasons. It just depends on how close Pakistan-Iran ties get. But Saudi Arabia being the gateway to the Arab (& Muslim) world is significantly important to Pakistan, & Iran cannot provide Pakistan that (although it can possibly form equal, if not better geostrategic partners than Saudi Arabia).
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    Administrator Aryan_B's Avatar
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    @ Armstrong where do India and America fit into your scenario. both who seem to want to destabilise Pakistan

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    Member Pickwickian's Avatar
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    Pakistan’s economy depends on Saudi Arabia in more than one ways. Nearly 60% of foreign remittances, a life blood for Pakistan’s economy, come for Pakistani diaspora working in Saudi Arabia and its allied countries. These workers not only bring petro-dollars, they also harbor close sympathy with these Arab countries. This gives a great leverage to Saudi Arabia to meddle in Pakistan’s affairs directly and also through right-wing clergy funded by Saudis.
    I wonder at this bit. They're are only 12,000 Pakistanis in Iran and many millions in the Arab countries. Is they're any reason for this?
    Seeing it this way, perhaps it's a betrayal to all those countries who accepted so many Pakistani migrants, making their lives better and the situation of the country at the same time due to the large amounts of foreign remittances. Regardless of their evident interference in our religious affairs, which Iran is off course part of, the Arab nations do appear to have the greater favour amongst most Pakistanis, and it's for this very reason that they are helping a brother in need. On the contrary, what really has Iran done for us? Being a much more stable country and economically fit, how has it helped it's weaker neighbor? if you search wikipedia on Pakistanis in Iran it says.
    Pakistanis in Iran consist of expatriates from Pakistan living in Iran, as well as locally-born people with ancestral roots in Pakistan. According to the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, their population is estimated at 11,500 in 2004-2005.[1] While many tend to be students, there are a number of white-collar professionals employed in various jobs. The majority of the population is centred around Tehran. A sizeable Baloch population exists.
    . In contrast, Pakistan with all our problems and population has taken up to 2 million Iranians, many of whom have exceeded to the highest positions in our society like Benazir Bhutto and Gilani. With this being the case, is there any question on where our allegiance should lie in this affair?

    Zarvin.
    Last edited by Pickwickian; 30th July 2012 at 19:58.

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    Administrator Aryan_B's Avatar
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    Pakistan needs to make a good case both to Iran and Saudi that we can not and do not want to annoy either of them and we should try to use our position to make them cool things down and sort their differences by dialogue in the interest of Muslims everywhere

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    Administrator Aryan_B's Avatar
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    Whatever anyone else's opinion on this I am a Pakistani. Pakistani foreign policy we all know is made by PA.

    These are the words our Quaid left us:

    "I have no doubt that with unity, faith and discipline we will compare with any nation of the world. You must make up your minds now. We must sink individualism and petty jealousies and make up our minds to serve the people with honesty and faithfulness. We are passing through a period of fear, danger, and menace. We must have faith, unity and discipline."
    (Father of the Nation) Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
    December 28, 1947


    therefore I will follow whatever Pakistani policy is by default that is PA. If they support Iran so be it. If they support Saudi so be it

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    Researcher Pksecurity's Avatar
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    The establishment, in my view, fully understands the challenges of these relations. One apparent option could be to tell Saudis to go and mind their own business but this is easier said than done. Saudis have big powers and many countries on their back. Their international influence is so much that dumping them will mean increased international isolation for Pakistan. We need more friends now. Iran has defense pact with India and we have to carefully watch Iranian moves. We can't annoy them either. We have to make a space for ourselves. This requires a diplomacy of very high standards.
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    Senior Member Express's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pksecurity View Post
    We have to make a space for ourselves. This requires a diplomacy of very high standards.
    Sir --- Do you think the leaders we have installed are able to do this "diplomacy of the highest standards"?
    I think we lack the skill required to keep both parties happy.

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    Retired AgNoStIc MuSliM's Avatar
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    Some commentary from a Westerner based in India on the Pakistani balancing act with Saudi Arabia and Iran:

    Question: There’ve been some very interesting contacts between the Pakistani senior officials quite recently, something like two weeks ago, and the results of the visit were quite inspiring. Do you think that the Americans might reconsider their relations with Pakistan just to limit Iranian influence there?

    Answer: The Americans are messed about the Iranian issue, that’s true. But I really don’t think they can stop Pakistan from reaching out to Iran unless the Saudis are willing to step in and are willing to offer Pakistan their energy requirements. You know, the Saudis are anybody who is interested in giving aid because I think there is a desperate attempt on the part of the Pakistan to reach out to Iran, to India. I think they have a serious energy crisis at hand and this could also become a problematic issue in the coming election. So, I think if they are reaching out to Iran is largely due and by their energy need for the time being and for future.

    The Americans of course are not very happy with that and that’s why they are not very happy with Indians either. And that’s why I think they have to revive the idea of TAPI – Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline rather than the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. So, you don’t think the Americans are very happy with the Iranian relationship with Pakistan. Pakistan is playing a very complex game, they are reaching out to Iran, they are also reaching out to Saudi Arabia for example. Recently there was a meeting between the Saudis and the new Prime Minister of Pakistan Raja Pervez Ashraf and what transpired, nobody knows.

    So, there are these initiatives being taken by Pakistan to Saudi Arabia and some countries in west Asia, and to Iran. It is a very significant moment on the part of Pakistan as far as relating Americans. I think they do realize that Pakistan has a problem. How much really the Americans are willing to accommodate that issue of Pakistan energy crisis, I don’t know. At the moment they are not in the mood to really give any concessions to Pakistan at this stage but they might relent I think after the November elections are over in Washington.


    http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_08_01/St...tan-relations/

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    Senior Moderator Superkaif's Avatar
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    Iran-Saudi Geopolitical Rivalry And Future Security Equations In Middle East

    From a historical viewpoint, ideological rivalry over formulation of security equations in the Middle East has been one of the most important causes of tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Following the popular uprisings in the Arab world in recent years, which have already changed the political perspective in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Syria in favor of identity-based and sectarian coordinates, the balance of regional power equations has become more ambiguous and fragile than any time before.

    In fact, new developments in the Arab world, which have been considered a turning point in the balance of power in the Middle East region, have had an important effect on the regional security in the Persian Gulf by establishing a link between internal political dynamism of the Arab societies and the role of governments. Of special importance in this regard are two Saudi-related developments: The military intervention by Saudi Arabia in Bahrain for the suppression of the ongoing uprising by the country’s Shia majority to keep the Al Khalifa regime in power, and sending military aid to militants in Syria. Both cases have helped to open a new chapter in tense, albeit multilayered and identity-related, rivalries between Saudi Arabia and Iran which will affect the political fate of Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and Syria as well.

    Differences over the future outlook of Yemen and the future standing of Houthi people, who live in the northern part of that country, have provided a fertile ground for tensions in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Since Houthis constitute the most important and also the biggest Zaidi Shia group in the Sa’ada Province in north of Yemen, Saudi and Yemeni officials have joined hands in accusing Iran of providing the Houthi people with military training and assistance.

    Iraq is another ground for geopolitical rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia where the balance of regional power has to a large extent turned in Iran’s favor following the fall of the country’s former dictator, Saddam Hussein. Since Saddam has been overthrown, Iraqi Shias have been grabbing a bigger chunk of the country’s political power pie. In addition, while political, economic, and diplomatic relations between Iran and the political leaders in Iraq are growing on a daily basis, strategic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq have been in decline. To make matters even worse, the military intervention by Saudi Arabia in Bahrain has been met with serious criticism of the Baghdad government. Some important Iraqi newspapers which are close to Shia circles have gone as far as calling on the government to ban the import of Saudi goods.

    At any rate, the main issue which has caused serious security concerns among the Saudi leadership is the uprising of the Shia majority in the neighboring Bahrain. For a country like Saudi Arabia, which has a longstanding claim to the leadership of the Arab world and whose economy is heavily dependent on oil revenues, nothing could be more catastrophic than the repetition of the Iraq experience. Riyadh by no means wants to see other governments in its immediate neighborhood with a Shia-dominated structure. On the other hand, possible establishment of Shia governments in Bahrain and Yemen in the Persian Gulf region – in addition to Iraq – will amount to rising power of Iran across the region. Such a state of affairs would mean the end of the role that Saudi Arabia played as the big brother for other monarchies in the region.

    This is especially true as the country is also facing very important security challenges within its own borders. Increasing dissent in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province; the changing nature, goals, and methods used by Sunni opposition groups under the influence of the ongoing protests in the other Arab countries; the dwindling political legitimacy of Saudi Arabian government pursuant to military intervention in Bahrain and Syria; instability of domestic energy consumption pattern; insecurity of the production and export of crude oil; senescence of the ruling class; having a relatively young population; vulnerability to fluctuations in the international energy market; and economic incoordination are just a handful of domestic problems with which the Saudi government is grappling right now. For this reason, seeing themselves looking in the eyes of a host of domestic and regional challenges, Saudi officials decided to further deepen the existing differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims across the region and make efforts to contain the power of Shias in the region, especially in Bahrain and in the eastern parts of Saudi Arabia. This policy has been adopted by the officials in Riyadh since the very beginning of popular uprisings in different parts of the Middle East.

    The ongoing developments as well as diplomatic endeavors by Iran and the United States aimed at reestablishing diplomatic relations between the two countries have concerned Saudi Arabia more than any other country. Officials in Riyadh believe that the new approach taken by the United States to Iran is the continuation of the past policies adopted by Washington which were at odds with the national interests of Riyadh and have led to weakening of its regional role. There is an array of US policies in the region which suit that description and include Washington’s support for the Arab uprisings; refusing to support [former dictators] Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Bin Ali, respectively in Egypt and Tunisia; and reaching an agreement with Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons which practically obviated the need for the United States to take a military action against the Syrian government. The United States’ new strategy, known as “Pivot to Asia,” has become another cause to concern for Saudi Arabia. According to this new strategy, Washington has decided through a dominantly economic approach to reduce its focus on the Middle East and Europe and, instead, look toward the Eastern Asia.

    Perhaps Saudi leaders consider this as the main reason why the United States has decided to mend fences with Iran. And this is also the reason that has prompted Saudis to try to increase the cost of getting close to Iran for the United States, which also explains recent threats that Saudi officials have posed against the United States. Of course, Saudis are not actually likely to put those threats into action.

    On the whole, a confrontational mode of interaction between Iran and Saudi Arabia would benefit neither country and, without a doubt, will have negative consequences for these two countries and the entire region as well. Therefore, Iranian officials are advised to highlight Saudi Arabia’s positive role in the regional developments, as they did in the past. They should also take measures, both in words and actions, to dispel the concerns that Saudi officials currently have about close relations between Tehran and Washington. On the other hand, Saudi officials should try to understand the new geopolitical developments in the region, give up their past policies, and put better interaction and cooperation with Iran on the top of their political agenda. In short, both countries should know that the way to progress and regional development passes through cooperation, not confrontation, between Tehran and Riyadh.

    Mahsa Mah-Pishanian
    Ph.D. Candidate and Expert on Middle East Issues

  19. #19
    Senior Member Felix's Avatar
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    Pakistan's Iran Saudi Arabia balancing act

    LONDON- Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz has said that it would strengthen the relations of Saudia and Iran to ease tensions between the two countries.

    In an interview with BBC's urdu service, Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan is following a neutral policy on Syria in line with UN resolutions.

    He said Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project is in tact, but due to sanctions, the time limit for its implementation will have to be reset.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/national/15...ns-sartaj-aziz

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    Re: Pakistan to string Saudia - Iran relations: Sartaj Aziz

    I am proud that Pakistan is looking to mend the relationship of its two Muslim brother nations. IA this will also result good for Pakistan, and will result in peace inside Pakistan.

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