Thursday, June 9, 2011

'Saudi bid to undermine Iran worries US'

Former Saudi ambassador to the US Prince Bandar bin Sultan al Saud has reportedly been leading Riyadh's anti-Iran efforts

Source: Press TV

A recent report published on the Wall Street Journal claims Saudi Arabia's efforts to counter Iran's primacy in the Middle East have started to worry the US.

According to the report, Saudi officials have approached Pakistan, Malaysia and other Muslim states to lend military and political support to the Bahraini monarchy, under the pretext of countering Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf sheikhdom.

Saudi National Security Council Chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan al Saud has reportedly told high ranking Pakistani generals that the US cannot be relied on to quell the popular uprisings across the Middle East or protect Pakistan's interests in South Asia.

The efforts have increased strain in Riyadh-Washington ties as US officials have been concerned that the inclusion of Pakistan into the Saudi scheme would complicate their efforts to influence Islamabad's security apparatus.

US officials, who work closely with Saudi Arabia, have acknowledged Riyadh's frustration and added skepticism about the effectiveness of their efforts.

“They (the Saudis) are not happy with us, and are really nervous about Iran… but I don't think they are going to go too far," the report quoted an unnamed US official as saying.

Pakistan receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in Saudi aid, mainly in the form of subsidized oil. However, a senior Pakistani official said Islamabad has no immediate plans to send soldiers for "operational purposes."

The official said a Pakistani battalion has been training security forces in Bahrain since before the unrest began in February, but said the battalion has never taken part in the crackdown on peaceful Bahraini protesters.

Bahrain's municipal police force is largely comprised of Pakistani recruits.

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