The Saudi crown prince's visit to India-Pakistan

Influence of the Saudi crown prince’s visit on India-Pakistan tension

Foreign Affairs
Reading Time: 12 minutes

Recently the controversial Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammad bin Salman visited Pakistan, India and China as part of his three-nation tour of the region. During his visit to these intertwined states, all nuclear powers, he tried to thread their political leadership with the Wahhabi ruling clique of his own kingdom and tie-up for better opportunities in the kingdom’s bid to diversify its oil-centric economy.

Though India and Pakistan both called the visit a win-win situation for them respectively, soon after the visit the India-Pakistan tension over the militant attack on a paramilitary convoy of India in the conflict zone of Kashmir, which killed 45 soldiers and wounded many, rose to a higher level and resulted into military adventurism of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reciprocated by the Pakistani establishment under Imran Khan.

The military tension that followed India’s purported “surgical strike” against Pakistan, which the international media discarded as propaganda of New Delhi, resulted into the captivity of one Indian pilot whose MiG 21 fighter plane was shot down by Pakistan.

Even during the peak of tension between the two nuclear power estranged neighbours, the Wahhabi Saudi Arabian monarchy played a key role in de-escalating the situation and tone down the Hindutva fascist camp’s rhetoric against Pakistan and the release of the captive Indian Air Force pilot. Saudi Arabia’s intervention, along with that of the US, Russia and China helped to contain the damage for the time being, however, it showed the massive influence that the kingdom has on these countries.

To understand the complicated dynamics of the region’s geopolitics and the future of Indo-Pak relations, one need to closely analyse the visit of Mr bin Salman vis-a-vis the peculiar relationship that the Wahhabi kingdom shares with these two countries.

The Saudi Arabia – Pakistan relationship

Historical ties of Wahhabism

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been neo-colonies of the US since time immemorial. They have played into the hands of the US imperialism in its scheme against left-wing movements in the Middle East and South Asia. The ties between these two countries strengthened due to the flow of petrodollar from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan in the form of remittances and during Soviet occupation over Afghanistan.

By the early-1980s, thousands of seminaries and mosques mushroomed in Pakistan due to the inflow of huge amount of Saudi Arabian petrodollar. These institutions started preaching Wahhabism and Salafism to radicalise the gullible minds of young and old Muslims, to turn them into bigots. The Pakistani regime helped Saudi Arabia and the US to use radicalised Pakistani, Baluchistani and refugee Afghan men in the war against Soviet troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

After the Afghan war against the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabian influence on the Pakistani economy increased as the economy of the country collapsed due to tension with India and sanctions imposed after its nuclear tests. Saudi Arabian aid kept the Pakistani economy running, even when Pakistan continued to export Wahhabi terrorism throughout the world. Pakistan’s isolation in the international arena for its complicity in promoting Wahhabism has always received Saudi Arabian rebuttals as the kingdom stood strongly beside Pakistan during all situation.

The CPEC opportunity

Saudi Arabia has promised Pakistan to become a partner in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and help to develop it as a game changer for the entire region, as the Saudi Arabian rulers are now seeking opportunities to diversify the kingdom’s economy. As the future of oil is bleak, the Saudi Arabian rulers are seeking better and durable business opportunities and CPEC is promising them exactly such opportunities.

Indeed, CPEC is one of the rarest of such projects where the Saudi Arabian rulers have agreed to invest despite the presence of their bête noire Iran in it. As Iran has also promised to invest and is participating in the CPEC, the entry of Saudi Arabia into the deal has surprised a lot of diplomatic and economic observers.

The Saudi Arabian crown prince’s visit to Pakistan aimed at securing the kingdom’s future in the CPEC. Mr bin Salman promised to invest $20 billion in Pakistan, which boosted the spirit of Khan’s regime. This money will be a bolster for the government in its CPEC project. Saudi Arabia wants peace in return of the money and hence, one can see how Hafiz Muhammad Saeed’s organisation was banned and actions were taken against many militant Islamists throughout the country soon after the crown prince’s visit.

As Saudi Arabia has a very strong trade relationship with India, hence, it didn’t want a war or military tension breaking out between India and Pakistan any time soon. It wants peace to ensure its CPEC investments aren’t at stake and for that, it forced Pakistan to gulp the bitter pill and retreat.

For the sake of $20 billion, Pakistan started initiating measures to assure India that it’s not supporting the Islamist terror groups and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed’s case is shown as an example. Khan also built a committee to handle the crisis with India and ensure that Saudi Arabia isn’t offended anyway. However, the Indian adventurism threatened Pakistan and it had to flex its muscle to remain in the regional power show business.

The returning of the captive Indian pilot and Pakistan’s gaining of moral high grounds in the diplomatic war with its neighbour isn’t due to independent actions of a prime minister who is a puppet of the military’s pro-China section, rather, it’s more or less an endeavour to ensure Saudi Arabian $20 billion doesn’t get jeopardised and the CPEC project goes on smoothly.

The Iran question

Despite India’s collaboration with Iran in building and developing the Chabahar Port in the Gulf of Oman with $8 billion investment under the $21 billion Chabahar-Hajigak corridor connecting Iran to Afghanistan, Iran also decided to join and partner in the CPEC to increase its trading with China.

This has brought Pakistan and Iran closer and Islamabad is not ready to offend its Shia-majority neighbour by taking arbitrary measures against its interests. Though Pakistan has collaborated with Saudi Arabia on many fronts, it refrained from joining the Saudi Arabia-led war coalition against Yemen and didn’t support the terrorist forces that the US-led coalition consisting of the Saudi Arabia-led Gulf monarchies and Zionist Israel jointly raised to topple the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Pakistan neither wanted to be portrayed as a “Sunni state”, causing the Shia-Sunni division to broaden in the conflict-ridden country, nor it wanted to offend its neighbour Iran. This made it tough for the Wahhabi Saudi kingdom and Zionist Israelis to woo Pakistan into their larger scheme of encircling and attacking Iran using the sanctions imposed on it by the US.

Donald Trump’s regime wants to destabilise the Iranian government by promoting Sunni terrorism, fuelling violent opposition movements and by instigating a war against Iran either jointly or separately by Zionist Israel and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. It’s also for the sake of war against Iran that the US is strongly against any military tension between India and Pakistan, and is also trying to buy peace at the Korean front.

Trump’s regime has been penalising Pakistan to appease the Indian rulers, which led to the isolation of Pakistan in the international arena and it led Pakistan to form closer ties with Russia and China. This is seen as a threat by the Trump regime as it feels that an alliance between Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China will be a deadly combo for the US interests not only in the gulf but also in Afghanistan, where it’s already talking to the same Taliban that the Bush regime once ousted from power by a bloody aggression on the country.

Under such a precarious political situation, the US had Mr bin Salman, one of its loyal agents, to woo Khan’s government against Iran by a promise of large investments. Pakistan is still not convinced to drop Iran from the CPEC as Iranian investment will help its economy immensely. Saudi Arabia is trying to convince Khan’s regime that its investments in the CPEC will compensate for the losses that Pakistan will incur in case of Iranian exit.

Pakistan also shares a long border with Iran and if the Saudi Arabian monarchy and Zionist Israeli regime get Pakistan on their side in the war against Iran, then it will become a boon for them in military terms. Any opportunity to use Pakistan as a base against Iran will brighten this evil nexus’s prospect in the Iran war. Though Pakistan is reluctant now, the Saudi Arabian monarchy is trying hard to get Islamabad as an active partner or at least a friendly supporter in its war efforts.

The kingdom is also wooing Pakistan by showing it the threat to the prospects of the Gwadar Port developed with Chinese support in case Iran’s Chabahar Port becomes operational. The Gwadar Port is crucial to CPEC and on its success depends the success of the CPEC. The Gwadar Port is close to the insurgency-hit Baluchistan province, which poses a major security threat to the port and the trade route.

Though the Chinese government owns the Gwadar Port and is looking after its security as well, it will be a challenge to maintain the port’s profitability in case Iran’s Chabahar Port becomes operational. Saudi Arabia is baiting on this to have Pakistan in its camp against Iran and allow the imperialist coalition to use Pakistani territory against Iran in case of a war. It’s yet to be seen whether the Saudi Arabian crown prince’s diplomatic endeavours to wean Pakistan to its camp will materialise or not.

The Afghanistan question

Afghanistan plays a crucial part in Saudi Arabia-Pakistan relations even now. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were only two powers apart from Pakistan that recognised the notorious Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan between 1996-1999. The dependence of the Taliban regime on these three states for external trade and commerce ensured the domination of the trio on Afghanistan.

Now that the Trump regime is negotiating with the Taliban, which has the tactic support of Saudi Arabian monarchy and the Pakistani ruling classes, it’s feared that the notorious regime will be back to power in Afghanistan by mid-2020, in about 19 years since it was ousted by the US.

Iran is afraid of a Saudi and US-backed regime like the Taliban ruling Afghanistan as it will jeopardise its own business interests, especially the Chabahar-Hajigak corridor project. As the Taliban despises India, it will be hard to see the project materialise in case the Taliban returns to rule. This has made Iran a strong opponent of the Taliban’s return. However, the backing of Russia to the peace deal between the Taliban and the US leaves Iran only with an ally like India, which also opposes the return of the notorious regime.

Saudi Arabia wants to checkmate the Iranians by installing a puppet Taliban regime in Kabul. For this, the kingdom needs a serious engagement of Pakistan as it’s a power towards which the Taliban had shown obeisance in the past.

Saudi Arabia-India relationship

The oil to all evolution

India is one of the largest fuel markets in the world and Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner and India is Saudi Arabia’s fourth largest export market. India imports around 19% of its fuel from Saudi Arabia. The trade between both countries rose to $28 billion in 2017-18 from $25 billion a year ago. The Saudi Arabia-India collaboration is increasing in several fields like security, trade, research, etc. India is one of the largest receivers of remittance income and more than 2.7 million Indians are working in Saudi Arabia.

Though the initial relationship between India and Saudi Arabia has been over oil, the kingdom is looking forward to expanding the partnership and use the large Indian market, its cheap labour and virtually free resources to diversify its economy through multiple areas of collaboration.

Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco, along with the UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, is signing up for 50% stake in the $44 billion-worth refinery-cum-petrochemical project in Ratnagiri of Maharashtra. The Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Khalid Falih repeatedly visited India to secure the stakes of the kingdom in this ambitious project. It’s expected that Saudi Arabia will invest in other sectors as well and will build up a downstream business around this project and work towards crude storage facilities.

During his speech at the India Energy Forum organised in October 2018, Falih heaped lavish praises on Modi and his government. He said that doing business has been easier than before in India and vouched that “acche din” (better days) promised by Modi during 2014 elections have arrived and if not for all, then at least for Saudi Arabia.

Mr bin Salman and Modi met soon after the India Energy Forum during the G 20 Summit held in November 2018 at Argentina. They discussed the proposals of increasing trade relations in the coming years and Saudi Arabia even becoming India’s largest oil supplier with a capacity to absorb all oil shocks.

The visit of Mr bin Salman attempted to present Saudi Arabia as an energy partner India can rely upon and assured India of greater investments and trade if New Delhi increases the oil import from Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis Iran. The crown prince tried to woo the Modi regime with not only the promise of $100 billion but also a lot of opportunities for Indian big comprador and crony capitalists to invest in the kingdom.

The Iran thorn

India has always been in a troubled position regarding Iran. At the time of the US sanctions on Iran, India is often forced by the US to not vote against its diktat over Iran. Though India has been an old ally of Iran, the geopolitical pragmatism forces the US puppet Indian state to oblige Washington on the question of Iran.

The bilateral relations between India and Zionist Israel has strengthened day by day and it has impacted India’s relations with Iran. Though India is building the Chabahar Port, it’s vehemently opposing the CPEC, calling it a violation of Indian sovereignty, knowing that Iran is becoming a stakeholder in this project.

Iran’s entry into the CPEC, which lays greater emphasis on the Gwadar Port, has also frustrated the Indian rulers, as they see a negative impact of this falling on the Chabahar Port and the proposed corridor up to Central Asian Republics via Afghanistan.

India’s neutral role is very imperative for the imperialist war plan on Iran. The Saudi Arabian assurance of increased fuel exports, its assurance of meeting volatile oil demand, etc, are manoeuvres to woo India into the anti-Iran camp and neutralise it during a war against Iran.

Saudi Arabian crown prince’s India tour had the agenda to ensure that the Modi regime cuts import from Iran slowly in the future and look up to Saudi Arabia to fill up the supply gap. It’s an effort to transform India into a state that will be totally dependant on Saudi Arabian oil and thereby dance according to the tunes of the house of al-Saud.

India’s dependence on Saudi Arabian oil and sacrificing of Iranian oil or even cutting imports from Iran will have far-reaching impacts on the geopolitics of West Asia and the Gulf. It will be one of the catalysts of a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, supported by Zionist Israel.

The importance of Hindutva for Wahhabism

When Modi visited Saudi Arabia in 2016, he was awarded the highest civilian award of the kingdom by the reactionary king. It was followed up in January 2019 with the Kotler Presidential Award for “visionary leadership” given by renowned management guru Philips Kotler’s organisation through a partner organisation based in Aligarh whose office couldn’t be traced and whose key members were found connected with Saudi Arabian oil major Aramco.

Modi is accused of orchestrating the 2002 Gujarat pogrom as the chief minister of the state. The pogrom has been one of the most heinous crimes committed against the minority Muslim community in India in decades. The Brahminical state machinery cleaned the blood trail to safeguard Modi from accusations, however, he can’t gain a clean chit from the common people of the country.

Why would the self-styled custodian of Sunni Islam, the Wahhabi Saudi Arabian monarchy award a man whose complicity in a grave crime against humanity is known to all? Why would the custodians of Mecca and Medina award a man accused of overseeing the rape, murder and wounding of hundreds of Muslims in a state where he was anointed as a ruler and was entrusted with the task of safeguarding all lives irrespective of people’s religious, caste, creed or other identities?

The answer lies in the complex web threaded by the US imperialism in Middle East Asia and South Asia. The fascist doctrine of Hindutva has a close tie-up with Wahhabi Islam and Zionism. These radical and publicly conflicting ideologies are actually fanned by the US imperialism to drive a greater wedge between the common people of the Arab world as well as South Asia.

Hindutva fascism provides fodder to Wahhabism to radicalise more minds with vengeance against common Hindus who have nothing to do with Hindutva. Every time the Hindutva fascists lynch a Muslim for their religious identity in Modi-fied India, Wahhabi school of thought radicalises more minds in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Muslim-majority countries with spiteful propaganda.

Every time a Salafist fascist persecutes Hindus or other religious minorities in any Muslim-majority countries, it becomes a valuable optic for the Hindutva fascists to spread xenophobia and polarise Hindus in India.

Religious fanaticism and majoritarian fascism are weapons in the hands of the US imperialism to ensure a people’s democratic struggle for economic equality, social justice and political power for the poor never materialises in the Indian subcontinent or elsewhere in Asia-Africa-Latin America.

To maintain its own hegemony, the US and its lackeys like Zionist Israel and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia will continue to strengthen the Hindutva fascist forces led by the RSS.

Mr bin Salman’s India tour took the engagement between Hindutva fascism and Wahhabism to a new level and it’s alarming for every democratic, secular and progressive citizens of India as the Modi regime, trailing the footsteps of the Saudi Arabian monarchy, will severely intensify communal hatred, violence and persecution of Muslims in India. It will lead to total chaos and a lot of bloodsheds, causing trauma to the future generations.

The Road Ahead

At a time when the Modi regime is trying to win victory in the forthcoming general election by playing the trump card of xenophobia and jingoism regarding Pakistan and Islamic terrorism, the Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, Zionist Israel and their master – the US imperialism – will play greater roles in Indian politics to help the RSS-led Hindutva camp to retain power.

War and military tension will rise between India and Pakistan due to the irreconcilable antagonism between the ruling classes of India and Pakistan. However, the heavy investment of the US lackey Saudi Arabia in the CPEC, isolation of Iran and Zionist Israel’s tactic support to New Delhi will ensure that a full-scale war will be averted for the time being. However, with a war breaking out with Iran, or an export of Wahhabi terrorism to Iran following the Syrian scheme by the US and its allies, an obedient Pakistan will be needed by this axis, for which India will be allowed muscle flexing by the imperialist west and Pakistan will be pushed to accommodate to its demands unless it fully joins the war league against Iran.

For the sake of peace and harmony in Middle East Asia, for the sake of peace in South Asia, especially in the Indian subcontinent, the al-Saud monarchy and the Zionist Israeli regime must be defeated by the forces of democracy and socialism.

With a strong democratic and anti-fascist movement in India against the warmonger Hindutva fascists, the working class and its allies like the peasantry and toiling masses can bring forth peace in the region and spoil the greater war scheme of the imperialist forces in the Gulf region. Mr bin Salman and his accomplices have been working hard to consolidate the US’s hegemony in Middle East Asia and neighbouring South Asia, it’s now the task of the common people to defeat his and the US’s endeavour to dip the region in an immense bloodbath.

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