The US-Saudi-Pakistani Lineup on Afghanistan Pushes India into Iran’s Corner

On Monday, July 26, on the eve of departure for what he regards as his great journey in pursuit of Arab unity, (See the next item on US-Saudi moves in the Arab world), Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah spent time at his summer palace in Casablanca, Morocco with the US Central Intelligence Agency's new No. 2, Michael J. Morell, who took over from CIA Deputy Director Stephen R. Kappes in mid-April.
The grand royal tour takes Abdullah to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan before the end of this week.
Present at his conversation with the US official was the king's younger son, Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, 46, lately his special envoy on complicated and delicate issues and a kind of private adviser on intelligence and national security affairs.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Persian Gulf sources stress that the young prince Abdullah's influence with his father in no way lessens the rising prestige in Riyadh Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, 65, wields as director of Saudi General Intelligence. Indeed, in some royal, military and intelligence circles, he is beginning to be regarded as a serious future candidate for appointment as Crown Prince and heir to the throne.
The king, his son and their American guest divided their conversation at the summer palace into two parts: The first dealt with coordinating US and Saudi policies on Afghanistan along the path set out by President Barack Obama and the king when they met at the White House on June 29.
(See the first item in this issue).
The second part ranged over American-Saudi cooperation in dealing with Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and focused on the prospects of distancing Syrian President Bashar Assad from his close bonds with Tehran and Lebanon's Hizballah extremists.

Some Taliban moderates begin to be won over

Their most immediate problem in Afghanistan, say our sources, is preventing President Hamid Karzai from running off and pursuing his own lines of negotiation with Taliban elements, so jeopardizing the track to the Taliban the Saudis and Pakistanis have opened up through their secret services.
The king and the CIA official decided their highest priority was to merge all the various Afghan negotiating tracks into a single dialogue because their own initiative was moving forward.

1. Washington, Riyadh and Islamabad have opened the door to contacts with the Taliban and wish to make sure they are not disturbed by surprises out of their control.
2. The shared US-Saudi-Pakistani quest for a political resolution of the Afghanistan war is intended to strengthen their three-way alliance as it goes forward.
3. In Casablanca, King Abdullah listed the sums of money Riyadh has laid out to buy the support of moderate Taliban commanders and the chiefs of other militias, tribes and clans. Some have been partly won over at this point of the ongoing process.
It was decided to step up intelligence cooperation so that all the information the Saudi and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence services have gathered on the potentially responsive Taliban elements is pooled with the CIA and Washington is assured of controlling the process.
(The way this conversation went showed how far the picture presented in the WikiLeaks archive of classified US military documents run by three important newspapers is distorted.)
4. The Saudi-US conference in Casablanca also evaluated the covert resources available to Iran for breaking up the US-Pakistani-Saudi venture. Their conclusion was that Iran could recruit some elements within Taliban and other Afghan militias, but would not be able to derail it altogether.
5. They reported good progress in the concerted bid of the three intelligence services to achieve national reconciliation among the various peoples and tribes in Afghanistan.

Obama's high-stakes gamble would restore Taliban to power under Pakistan's thumb

DEBKA-Net-Weekly's sources report that in all their secret exchanges, the envoys of the Obama administration, Riyadh and Islamabad have said they are trying "to strike a deal with moderate Taliban."
It would be more accurate to say that they are seeking to strike a deal with Taliban through moderate elements.
Our Washington sources confirm that President Obama threw his support behind the Saudi-Pakistani initiative to achieve a short cut for ending the war and getting US forces out of Afghanistan. In pursuing this end, he faces two tough dilemmas:
One, How to compute the cost of failure in terms of the fallout in Washington and the negative impact on the American army?
The president has assured the skeptics in his circle that the same Saudi rulers brought the Taliban to power in Kabul once before in the late 1990s, so there is no reason to doubt their ability to succeed a second time, especially when Riyadh is now backed not only by Washington but also by the powerful Pakistani intelligence apparatus.
Two, India's political and military leaders object strenuously to the US lining up behind Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for a new strategy in Afghanistan. New Delhi feels it is being ousted by the Obama administration from all its positions of influence in Afghanistan and fears the door has been opened for Pakistani military and intelligence domination of the Taliban – and Afghanistan at large.
This is one of Pakistan's prime objectives and its incentive for preparing for war with India – even today.
There are signs that the new US alignment for Afghanistan is pushing India into the arms of Iran.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the ayatollahs appear to be testing the ground both to see where closer ties can lead them and whether even an Indian half-turn toward Tehran will be enough to slow down the US-Saudi-Pakistani strategy for Afghanistan.

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