Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Middle East Musings on New Pundits

I do more writing on New Pundits now but I thought I would point to three recent posts of mine dealing with the geopolitics in the region:

The Ghost of the Persian Empire will Own the Middle East: The ghost of geopolitics means that the only true counterweight to Iran is not Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Israel (The Sunni-Semitic axis Egypt doesn’t even figure, as it’s geopolitically so dependent on Israel post Aswan Dam) but Turkey. However Anatolia is ultimately a bridge to the West and Turkey’s highland configuration point towards Istanbul and that land bridge.

The “Iran deal” signals Persia’s return to Geopolitical Preeminence: The Iranians, like their closely related kin the Indians, are an Aryan people who settled on the hugely strategic Iranian plateau. Unlike the Indians upon conquest (or a few centuries after) the Iranians gave up their hugely influential native born faith, Zoroastrianism, to embrace Islam and consequently the hugely Iranian inflected Shi’ite faith. Of course Islam can properly be conceived of a fine line between the more orthodox (and less theologically innovative) Sunni practises, which adhere most closely to the original Arabian teachings, and the far more syncretic Ismaili cluster, in which 12ver Shi’ite Islam falls in the middle.

How Pakistan and Turkey must play the crisis in the Middle East: Now far more interesting, in that it is much contestable, about what is Pakistan. I would argue Pakistan is the Mughal Empire successor state reimagined (even if partially) on the Indus River Valley System. This linkage survived 1971’s breakup and to put it succinctly Pakistan looks to Akbar, its arch rival fratricidal twin India looks to Asoka.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Arab-Pakistani Security Cooperation

From Dr Hamid Hussain:

        Pakistan and Arab World:  Security Cooperation

Hamid Hussain

 The desire to gain an immediate selfish advantage always imperils their ultimate interests.  If they recognize this fact, they usually recognize it too late”.  Reinhold Niebuhr

 There is long history of security relations between Pakistan and several Arab countries.  In 1970s and 80s, many Arab countries flushed with oil money bought state of the art equipment but local population lacked technical skills.  A number of Pakistan army and air force personnel were deputed to several countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Syria and Iraq.  A much smaller number of naval officers also served in UAE training local naval forces.  The numbers and duration of deployment varied from less than a dozen to few thousand and from few weeks to several years.  The main role of Pakistani officers was in training local security forces although they also manned complicated equipment such as radars. 

Pakistan sometimes got into difficulties in view of squabbles among Arab countries as well as internal strife in some of these countries.  Pakistani troop presence in Saudi Arabia though very small put it at odds with Egypt.  Saudi Arabia and Egypt were supporting opposing parties in the civil war in Yemen.  This continued till Anwar Sadat got off the ship of Arab socialism and took a turn towards the right side of the curve.  In 1980s, in the context of Iran-Iraq war, presence of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia put Pakistan at odds with Tehran.