The Saudis are preparing to greet Barack Obama’s visit to Riyadh in the last week of March (as yet unannounced) with a formidable display of their military independence of the United States and its policies – especial with regard to Iran.
They are in the throes of a rush job in the short time remaining for clinching long-range military deals with Pakistan, India and Japan, DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources reveal. Saudi rulers are eager to show the US president that the kingdom’s traditional military alliance with Washington, dating back to the mid-20th century, has been overtaken by solid new partnerships.
The linchpin is the Saudi-Pakistani pact. Its details were finally processed during the visit to Riyadh of Pakistan’s Chief o Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif.
The last touches and signatures will be applied when Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, deputy premier and minister of defense, travels to Islamabad over the coming weekend.
Our sources say that King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have already seen and approved the final draft of the agreements.
They cover the following points:
1. Pakistan will make nuclear weapons available to Saudi Arabia. They will be deployed in both countries and held ready logistically and operationally for instant use in any contingency that may arise.
2. These preparations will entail the presence of Pakistani military forces in Saudi Arabia and Saudi units in Pakistan to secure the nuclear weapons and use them as needed.
3. Pakistan is to sell the kingdom a fleet of fighter planes and bombers together with rockets, such as the Shaheen 11, which are capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
Saudi pilots have been trained to carry out such missions. To be on the safe side, Pakistani air crews and officers will be attached to Saudi squadrons and missile batteries.
4. Two armored Pakistani divisions will be posted in Saudi Arabia’s coastal oil regions for defense against a potential Iranian invasion or terrorist strikes and subversion staged by Iranian or pro-Iranian saboteurs drawn from the local Shiite community.
Pakistan’s objection to Obama’s policies generates partnership with Saudis
This wouldn’t be the first time the Pakistani military is imported to the oil kingdom.
In 1979, thousands of Pakistani troops poured into the country to bolster Saudi security when Iranian Islamist revolutionaries overthrew the Shah. Riyadh is estimated to have since invested hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize Pakistan’s nuclear strike force, culminating in a successful A-bomb test in 1996.
5. The Saudi and Pakistani military have scheduled high-frequency war games.
6. They agree to coordinate their policies on Afghanistan as US forces prepare to draw down in 2014 after 13 years and the Taliban is poised to stage a comeback in Kabul.
For the Pakistani prime minister, the decision to hitch his Afghanistan policy to a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia instead of with Iran, is a historical breakaway from its normal traditions, DEBKA Weekly’s sources say
In addition to Saudi Arabia’s financial largesse, Islamabad is drawn to Riyadh by their shared differences with the Obama administration over its approach to the Taliban.
Both the Pakistanis and Saudis view with extreme distrust the secret talks afoot between American and the Taliban representatives, especially since Iranian emissaries have been co-opted. The Obama administration’s keenness on bolstering Iran’s standing in Afghanistan is far from the liking of both Riyadh and Islamabad.
Riyadh to borrow naval strength from India, Japan
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which have joined forces for a military front to counter the burgeoning US-Iranian alliance in the Gulf, have now opened a second front against the joint US-Iranian strategy for Afghanistan.
In recent weeks DEBKA Weekly’s sources report intense Saudi lobbying of the powers-that-be in New Delhi and Tokyo with offers to post their naval forces at Saudi coastal bases in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea to beef up the defenses of their oil routes against the powerful Iranian navy.
Tuesday, Feb. 11, Revolutionary Guards Navy Commander Ali Fadayi sent chills up American and Saudi spines when he bragged that the (the Americans) “cannot hide in the sea since the entire Middle East region, Western Europe, the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz are monitored by us.”
Our military sources report the Saudis in advanced negotiations with New Delhi for posting an Indian naval force to the King Abdulaziz Naval base near the large Saudi oil terminals at Ras Tanur.
With Tokyo, they are discussing a Japanese naval force for deployment in the Gulf and the Red Sea. Before going into practicalities with New Delhi, the Saudis checked with Islamabad to see if there would be any objection to an Indian military presence in Saudi Arabia alongside Pakistani forces.
Islamabad replied with an assurance: No, there is no objection!