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15 April 2015


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Be careful what you wish for.

The Saudis suck, granted, but there is worse.

The Beaver

Brig Ali,

Isn't the Sindh province mainly Shi'a?
And the Bhutto family (at least the mother) is Shi'a also ( I don't know about Mr 10%)

Don't know whether you've seen this article:

"The Shia Factor: Perhaps an important factor for Pakistan to decline to join the anti-Yemen coalition is the Shia factor. Saudi Arabia had reportedly asked Pakistan to send only Sunni soldiers and not Shia solders. Pakistan's army is comprised of roughly 70% Sunni soldiers and 30% Shia soldiers. The Saudi request was considered as creating a rift in the Pakistan army ranks which doesn't have any sectarian division."

Babak Makkinejad

Iran also is a religious state - purely based on Shia religion; without which it could not exist in its present form.

For both the Monarchy and the Islamic Republic Twelve-Imami Shia has been the state religion.

Babak Makkinejad

What is the distinction between a confessional state and a religious state?

Could you please elaborate?

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think that Sindh is Twelver - Binazir's mother was - I think.

Babak Makkinejad

The sitting President of Pakistan was the only foreign leader - Muslim or not - who attended the funeral and burial of Ayatollah Khomeini.

During Iran-Iraq War, Iranian helicopter pilots were being trained in Pakistan.

And Pakistan sold nuclear technology to Iran.


Thank you for the detailed analysis.

However, I think, you failed to mention the most important point which I believe was conceiled behind the scenes:

Pakistan's army simply thinks the Saudis are going to lose that war in Yemen, with or without Pakistani help, and that badly.

Pakistanis are well aware, and some discreet Chinese, Iranian and even some US interlocators may have reinforced that message recently, that participating in a war and losing the war may have dire consequences, what any money hardly could compensate, especially when the major opposition (Imran Khan) is categorically against Pakistan fighting in Yemen, and the major reason the Saudis need Pakistan in their coalition is that they want Pakistan to take the casualties of a ground operation.

Babak Makkinejad

Which of the four schools is the most dominant in the state; among the fundamentalist generals, for example?

Do you know?

Swami Bhut Jolokia

I can understand the paranoia the Pakistani Army has about India, what with the long history, East Pakistan/Bangladesh, Kashmir, India on good terms with Afghanistan and Iran etc.

However, the country as a whole would be so much better off if the Army would grow up and make nice with India. India is too busy trying to grow its economy to have any territorial ambitions. Tight trade relationships have a way of putting war on the back burner.

FB Ali

No, Sind is mainly Sunni (though these designations don't mean much, except formally). Except for overtly religious people, they are mainly cultural labels. The Bhuttos are Shia, including Mr 10%.

I hadn't read this article, but I have referred above to the Shia angle (see my comment at 4:31 PM above).


Larry, if that B747 you saw was white fuselage and blue stripe along cabin windows, it was an Iran Air Force jet.

If it was white with a large blue emblem on the tail, it was Iran Air.

I don't think you meant Iran Navy- but the color navy.

And yes, Iran Air was active with commercial flights during the war, as the tragic downing of IR655 demonstrated.


Patrick writes:

"Any circumstantial alliance between the Saudis and both AQAP and "Al-Islah" would also lead to major objections from more important allies of the Saudis.
American approval of the Saudis now backing the same AQAP would be bordering on the schizophrenic …"

But that is exactly what is happening in Syria. The Saudis finance Jabhat al-Nusra and Israel is supporting it while the U.S. is bombing Nusra leaders.

I have seen Saudi bragging about that in the NYT but zero U.S. objection.

I believe that is the way they will go. Use AlQaeda to turn Yemen into a second big Gaza.

BTW: Yesterday 16 gas stations in Yemen with long rows of cars waiting for gas were bombed by the Saudi coalition. In one case over 40 people died. At least 20 U.S. officers in Riyadh are vetting the target lists.

Sanaa has had no electricity for 60+ hours now. There is no fuel for water pumps, gas canisters for cooking are running out. The harbors are completely blocked and no food is coming into the country. There is little to no news coming out of the country as telecommunication means were attacked earlier and have also run out of fuel. The UN envoy resigned in protest. Starvation started but little will be learned about it in the outside world.

Patrick Bahzad

Thx for sharing this info - I don't think anybody is surprised at the turn of events. Supply of Yemen with food, goods of first necessity and fuel has collapsed, that is beyond doubt.
We'll see what happens about it. I think it will rather inflame the conflict further, at least in the short run. But the blocade as a means to force a decision is nothing new ... It's basically like laying siege to a castle in the middle-ages. We'll see who blinks first, but casualties are guaranteed anyway.
As for the comparison with Syria, the main difference is that in Yemen, you might see a Saudi government involvement in arming the anti-Saleh and anti-houthi forces. That is not the case in Syria, at least not anymore.
From 2011to 2013, that comparison would have been valid to a point, but several things have changed since. However, I agree with the totally schizophrenic nature of the US and Western policy in general, i.e. supporting and tolerating in one place the people we fight in others ...

Patrick Bahzad

On the other hand, if Pakistan had been able to build a consistent education system over the years - something India managed to do - maybe there would be no need to Saudi funded madrassas ...
It's not that easy you know, when you're a poor family and the only option we have for your kids is to send at least one of your kids to a madrassa, being told he'll get a good education, and maybe 10 years on he turns into a radical.
But when you have no alternative, it's not that simple. Education in Pakistan, like the rest of the State and its civilian agencies, are totally dysfunctional.

Patrick Bahzad

Yes I could and should, but I'm pretty sure you already know the difference yourself. Besides, you can check Gen. Zia-ul-Haq's own words, he explains that quite eloquently.

Patrick Bahzad

there's a difference between State religion and religion being the defining element in the identity of a State. I thought that was pretty obvious. For Pakistan, at least until partition in 1971, religion was the only common identity feature of that State. Doesn't mean there were no minorities, although the 2 millions dead during partition of India made sure there wouldn't be too many of them, but as such, without Islam, there was no rationale justifying the creation of Pakistan as a State.
Maybe it was a reward of the Brits for the Muslim League supporting them during WWII, while the Congress party didn't. Or maybe it was the old British way of dividing to create chaos and weaken the post-colonial states they left. That's up for debate.

Patrick Bahzad

I didn't quite get what you meant by referring to Switzerland and Sweden, two small neutral countries, with a population about 0.05 % to 0.1 % that of China ... and neither the will, nor the ambition for a global foreign policy.
As for Sweden, i don't consider their unhealthy role in the anti-Russia cabbale as an example to follow.

Patrick Bahzad

Relations between Iran and a number of countries are or have been better than is usually stated mainly in the US media.

Patrick Bahzad

Thats is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: Saudi-Arabia is going to lose the war if Pakistan doesn't provide grounds troops, thus Pakistan doesn't provide ground-troops because it doesn't want to lose the war.
The probability of military success may have played a role but I don't think it is the decisive element in Pakistan's decision, which would only have provided troops for the defence of KSA, not for offensive missions in Yemen. The other elements in the equation, particularly in relation to China, public opinion in Pakistan and risk of inflaming the domestic situation, did weigh in much more.

Patrick Bahzad

The Pakistani army paranoia about India is just that ... paranoia, that served the purpose of making the army the only halfway functioning government body in the country and the Generals at its head becoming very wealthy individuals, let's put it that way ...

The idea of the "strategic Depth" that Pakistan needed in Afghanistan and the alleged Indian meddling in Afghanistan, which is an idea that prevailed for years in the Pakistani army (t least it was the official version), is just a pile of you know what.

How the mountains of Afghanistan could provide strategic depth for Pakistani armoured divisions manoeuvrering against an Indian invasion force has always remained a mystery to me.

As for growing up, I'm afraid it's gonna take a bit more than that. What's in it for the army, would be the first question you would hear.


I don't know but have an informed hunch: Hanafi/Deobandi?

I have no idea as to whether, and if so to what extent, Saudi/Gulfie funding shifted religius views towards Hanbali/Wahhabi Islam. If so, that would be an inherent cause for conflict and fratricide since I assume that Wahhabis and Salfis likely find much to object to in Deobandi Islam.

William R. Cumming


William R. Cumming

Your comment a distinction without a difference. I asked some time ago on this blog as to whether KSA could defend its borders? No answer that I remember. IMO the engagement of KSA in YEMEN the triumph of hope over experience and the KSA is unable to defend itself but continues to pretend it can do so. Just Israeli military for its analysis of KSA capabilities?

But hey I don't believe Israel is capable of self-defense either from conventional weapons or nuclear. This fact drives BIBI's concerns.


Patrick Bahzad,
thanks for another brilliant post. Thanks!

Patrick Bahzad

I must have missed that post where you raised those points.
Answer to your question regarding KSA depends on the nature of the threat we're talking.
In general terms however, the ability of the SA army to conduct combined military operations on a large scale is quite limited.
Regarding Israel, I would have a rather different opinion ...

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