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Saudi king’s death may deepen US crisis in Middle East

Bill Van Auken

The late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (right) embracing former US President George W. Bush after presenting him King Abdul Aziz Order of Merit at Riyadh Palace on January 14, 2008.
— Photo: Internet

The death of Saudi Arabia’s 90-year-old King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the head of one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies, has met with profuse tributes and open mourning by Washington and its allies, along with the Western media.
Abdullah, who has effectively ruled Saudi Arabia since his predecessor and half-brother, Fahd, suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995—becoming king upon his death in 2005—has maintained the country’s theocratic dictatorship as a lynchpin of regional counterrevolution and US oil interests for the past two decades.

US-Saudi axis in the region
His death introduces another layer of uncertainty and potential crisis into a Middle East already reeling from political eruptions that are directly tied to the role of the US-Saudi axis in the region, from the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the collapse of the regime that they both backed in Yemen.
World leaders have rushed to the Saudi capital of Riyadh to participate in the three days of official mourning proclaimed by the monarchical regime, among them US Vice President Joe Biden, French President François Hollande, Britain’s Prince Charles, Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan and many others. All of them are anxious to see their interests in the kingdom—which sits atop the second largest proven petroleum reserves in the world and is the number one producer of crude oil—preserved.

“Nothing short of obscene”
The tributes paid by Western government officials and the corporate media were nothing short of obscene.
Barack Obama praised Abdullah as a leader who “had the courage of his convictions.” The US president added, “One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”
The courage of Abdullah’s convictions—always essential for an absolute monarch—found its expression in his regime’s beheadings last year of at least 87 people, in some cases with their headless corpses publicly crucified after death. Among the crimes punished by beheading were “sorcery,” adultery, drug possession and political opposition to the ruling monarchy.
The Washington Post described Abdullah as “a master politician” who “gained a reputation as a reformer without changing his country’s power structure,” adding, with no substantiation, that he was “popular with his subjects.” The New York Times described him as a ruler who had “earned a reputation as a cautious reformer” and was, “in some ways, a force of moderation.”

Badawi’s crime of “liberal thought”
It was this “moderation” that was on display, no doubt, in the postponing last week—for medical reasons—of the second round of 50 of the 1,000 lashes to which the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced. He also received a 10-year jail term for the crimes of “adopting liberal thought” and “insulting Islam.”
The intimate US-Saudi relationship, which Obama praised on 21 January as “a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond,” stands as an unanswerable indictment of the hypocrisy of US imperialism’s attempt to justify its predatory policies in the Middle East and internationally in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.”

US military protection of Saudi Arabia
The heart of this relationship has been US military protection of Saudi Arabia in return for tying its domination of the world oil markets to American interests. This was solidified in 1973 in a deal brokered by then US President Richard Nixon in which he pledged to ensure US defense of and arms sales to the Saudi monarchy in return for all of the kingdom’s oil sales being denominated in US dollars, giving rise to the recirculation of “petrodollars” into US financial markets and arms purchases.
With a population of 28 million—fully one third of it made up of migrant workers who do virtually all of the labour—Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest arms budget in the world.
US imperialism has likewise long relied on Saudi Arabia’s propagation of Wahhabi Islamic religious ideology as a counter to secular nationalist and socialist movements in the region.
King Abdullah provided unstinting support to Hosni Mubarak against the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and then to the coup of Egyptian General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013. He sent troops and tanks across the causeway into Bahrain to crush mass protests in that Gulf kingdom in 2011.
Significantly, among those praising Abdullah on 21 January was Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who said he had “contributed greatly to Middle East stability.”
The Saudi succession has only underscored the sclerotic character of the ruling monarchy. The new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, is 79 and reportedly in ill health, suggesting that real power will be wielded by others. His successor, the new crown prince Mugrin bin Abdul Aziz, at 69 is described as “relatively young” for a Saudi ruler.
The successor king and those behind him confront a series of deepening crises for the regime. Next door in Yemen, the unpopular regime that both Riyadh and Washington backed has collapsed in the face of a revolt by the Houthis, a population that Saudi Arabia had repeatedly attacked and which it sees as an ally of its regional rival, Iran.

ISIS turning its sights on former patrons
In Syria, the monarchy’s bankrolling and arming of Islamist “rebels,” again in alliance with the US, has produced ISIS, which has overrun much of that country and Iraq, bringing its forces to Saudi Arabia’s own borders. The implications of this were driven home earlier this month in an ISIS suicide attack that claimed the lives of General Oudah al-Belawi, the commander of all Saudi forces in the northern part of the country, along with two border guards. Nurtured on Saudi money and Wahhabi ideology, ISIS is now turning its sights on its former patrons.
Meanwhile, there is the fall of oil prices, which, by refusing to cut production, the Saudis have promoted in a deal worked out with Washington with the aim of weakening both Russia and Iran. The halving of oil revenues as a result, however, has ominous implications for Saudi Arabia itself, which has used its petroleum export surpluses to pacify the population with public spending on housing, education, salary hikes and other forms of public welfare. Next year, it is projected to run a deficit of $39 billion, amounting to 5.2 per cent of GDP—the largest in the kingdom’s history. Resulting cuts in salaries, benefits and public spending in a country where 40 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line can spell social unrest.

“A proponent of peace”
There are also indications of strains in the relations with Washington, which have increased since Obama backed off his threat to bomb Syria in 2013 and moved instead towards a halting rapprochement with Iran. Abdullah, who was eulogized repeatedly as, in the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, “a proponent of peace,” had called upon the US administration to “cut the head off the snake” by launching a military intervention against Iran.
Finally, the Saudi regime will undoubtedly face internal tensions as the struggle over succession and division of the spoils develops among the thousands of princes and princesses and their entourage.
While Abdullah had based his rise to power on his role as commander of the National Guard, a post inherited by his son, the rival Sudairi faction of the ruling family, to which the new king belongs, will undoubtedly attempt to fill positions with their own supporters. How this faction fight works out will affect not only internal politics, but potentially the disposition of major contracts with the oil conglomerates, arms dealers and other transnational corporations.
The fact that US imperialism counts the Saudi regime as a key pillar of its interests in the Middle East only underscores the reactionary role that it plays throughout the region as well as the fundamental instability of the system of hegemony that it is attempting to impose there.
— WSWS

Comment

Bill Van Auken

The late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (right) embracing former US President George W. Bush after presenting him King Abdul Aziz Order of Merit at Riyadh Palace on January 14, 2008.
— Photo: Internet

The death of Saudi Arabia’s 90-year-old King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the head of one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies, has met with profuse tributes and open mourning by Washington and its allies, along with the Western media.
Abdullah, who has effectively ruled Saudi Arabia since his predecessor and half-brother, Fahd, suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995—becoming king upon his death in 2005—has maintained the country’s theocratic dictatorship as a lynchpin of regional counterrevolution and US oil interests for the past two decades.

US-Saudi axis in the region
His death introduces another layer of uncertainty and potential crisis into a Middle East already reeling from political eruptions that are directly tied to the role of the US-Saudi axis in the region, from the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the collapse of the regime that they both backed in Yemen.
World leaders have rushed to the Saudi capital of Riyadh to participate in the three days of official mourning proclaimed by the monarchical regime, among them US Vice President Joe Biden, French President François Hollande, Britain’s Prince Charles, Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan and many others. All of them are anxious to see their interests in the kingdom—which sits atop the second largest proven petroleum reserves in the world and is the number one producer of crude oil—preserved.

“Nothing short of obscene”
The tributes paid by Western government officials and the corporate media were nothing short of obscene.
Barack Obama praised Abdullah as a leader who “had the courage of his convictions.” The US president added, “One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”
The courage of Abdullah’s convictions—always essential for an absolute monarch—found its expression in his regime’s beheadings last year of at least 87 people, in some cases with their headless corpses publicly crucified after death. Among the crimes punished by beheading were “sorcery,” adultery, drug possession and political opposition to the ruling monarchy.
The Washington Post described Abdullah as “a master politician” who “gained a reputation as a reformer without changing his country’s power structure,” adding, with no substantiation, that he was “popular with his subjects.” The New York Times described him as a ruler who had “earned a reputation as a cautious reformer” and was, “in some ways, a force of moderation.”

Badawi’s crime of “liberal thought”
It was this “moderation” that was on display, no doubt, in the postponing last week—for medical reasons—of the second round of 50 of the 1,000 lashes to which the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced. He also received a 10-year jail term for the crimes of “adopting liberal thought” and “insulting Islam.”
The intimate US-Saudi relationship, which Obama praised on 21 January as “a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond,” stands as an unanswerable indictment of the hypocrisy of US imperialism’s attempt to justify its predatory policies in the Middle East and internationally in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.”

US military protection of Saudi Arabia
The heart of this relationship has been US military protection of Saudi Arabia in return for tying its domination of the world oil markets to American interests. This was solidified in 1973 in a deal brokered by then US President Richard Nixon in which he pledged to ensure US defense of and arms sales to the Saudi monarchy in return for all of the kingdom’s oil sales being denominated in US dollars, giving rise to the recirculation of “petrodollars” into US financial markets and arms purchases.
With a population of 28 million—fully one third of it made up of migrant workers who do virtually all of the labour—Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest arms budget in the world.
US imperialism has likewise long relied on Saudi Arabia’s propagation of Wahhabi Islamic religious ideology as a counter to secular nationalist and socialist movements in the region.
King Abdullah provided unstinting support to Hosni Mubarak against the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and then to the coup of Egyptian General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013. He sent troops and tanks across the causeway into Bahrain to crush mass protests in that Gulf kingdom in 2011.
Significantly, among those praising Abdullah on 21 January was Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who said he had “contributed greatly to Middle East stability.”
The Saudi succession has only underscored the sclerotic character of the ruling monarchy. The new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, is 79 and reportedly in ill health, suggesting that real power will be wielded by others. His successor, the new crown prince Mugrin bin Abdul Aziz, at 69 is described as “relatively young” for a Saudi ruler.
The successor king and those behind him confront a series of deepening crises for the regime. Next door in Yemen, the unpopular regime that both Riyadh and Washington backed has collapsed in the face of a revolt by the Houthis, a population that Saudi Arabia had repeatedly attacked and which it sees as an ally of its regional rival, Iran.

ISIS turning its sights on former patrons
In Syria, the monarchy’s bankrolling and arming of Islamist “rebels,” again in alliance with the US, has produced ISIS, which has overrun much of that country and Iraq, bringing its forces to Saudi Arabia’s own borders. The implications of this were driven home earlier this month in an ISIS suicide attack that claimed the lives of General Oudah al-Belawi, the commander of all Saudi forces in the northern part of the country, along with two border guards. Nurtured on Saudi money and Wahhabi ideology, ISIS is now turning its sights on its former patrons.
Meanwhile, there is the fall of oil prices, which, by refusing to cut production, the Saudis have promoted in a deal worked out with Washington with the aim of weakening both Russia and Iran. The halving of oil revenues as a result, however, has ominous implications for Saudi Arabia itself, which has used its petroleum export surpluses to pacify the population with public spending on housing, education, salary hikes and other forms of public welfare. Next year, it is projected to run a deficit of $39 billion, amounting to 5.2 per cent of GDP—the largest in the kingdom’s history. Resulting cuts in salaries, benefits and public spending in a country where 40 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line can spell social unrest.

“A proponent of peace”
There are also indications of strains in the relations with Washington, which have increased since Obama backed off his threat to bomb Syria in 2013 and moved instead towards a halting rapprochement with Iran. Abdullah, who was eulogized repeatedly as, in the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, “a proponent of peace,” had called upon the US administration to “cut the head off the snake” by launching a military intervention against Iran.
Finally, the Saudi regime will undoubtedly face internal tensions as the struggle over succession and division of the spoils develops among the thousands of princes and princesses and their entourage.
While Abdullah had based his rise to power on his role as commander of the National Guard, a post inherited by his son, the rival Sudairi faction of the ruling family, to which the new king belongs, will undoubtedly attempt to fill positions with their own supporters. How this faction fight works out will affect not only internal politics, but potentially the disposition of major contracts with the oil conglomerates, arms dealers and other transnational corporations.
The fact that US imperialism counts the Saudi regime as a key pillar of its interests in the Middle East only underscores the reactionary role that it plays throughout the region as well as the fundamental instability of the system of hegemony that it is attempting to impose there.
— WSWS


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New govt’s measured approach to meet challenge

Jehan Perera in Colombo

The government is proceeding with its 100-day programmme that President Maithripala Sirisena presented as part of his election manifesto. This plan promised a national government and new cabinet with UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as its Prime Minister after the presidential election.  It also contained a promise to change from a presidential to a parliamentary system, to repeal the 18th Amendment, to come up with a 19th Amendment to the Constitution, restoring independent commissions, setting up a national advisory council and also presenting an interim budget.  The detailed plan also included setting up a special investigatory mechanism to probe corruption and passing legislation on right to information and a new health policy.
Previous presidents made big promises that they did not keep and their promises ended up being seen as gimmicks simply to win votes and the election. Viewed in the context of promises made by previous governments, the 100 day programme is impressive in both the national consensus it has obtained and also in being implemented.   The first promise that was fulfilled was the appointment of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister.   The promise to establish a National Advisory Council has been fulfilled by the appointment of a National Executive Council thought still without the civil society representation that was promised, but it still is an impressive body having the participation of virtually the entire range of mainstream political parties, including the ethnic minorities. 

Smooth transition
After the presidential elections there has been an exceptionally smooth takeover of the reins of government by the political parties that constitute the NDF government.  One of the key factors in the smoothness of the transition of power has also been President Maithripala Sirisena’s readiness to keep to his pre-election promises.  During the election campaign President Sirisena recognized that his voters would come largely from the main opposition party headed by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and promised to appoint the UNP leader as Prime Minister.   By way of contrast, the once powerful UPFA is today in shambles and its former leaders are being discredited with more and more revelations of corruption, violence and even of seeking to abort the presidential  election outcome when they knew they were losing.   The law and the unfettering of the media from the thrall of fear and self-censorship are dispelling the myths of the past about their claims of patriotism and national interest.
President Sirisena’s decision to appoint Ranil Wickremasinghe as prime minister within minutes of his own oath taking as president lay to rest any apprehension of conflict between the two leaders.  There was a possibility that once elected, and vested with the plenitude of powers of the presidency, President Sirisena might renege on his promise and seek to take control over the new government himself.  But the working relationship between the president and prime minister, and the division of responsibilities between them, has so far been very good to all appearances.  There has been an appearance of honor and realism on the part of the president who was elected with mainly UNP and ethnic minority votes and an acknowledgment of the debt owed.  This positivity and an attitude of power sharing and team work that did not exist in the former government permeate the structure of new government at the present time.

Sharing POWER
The willingness of those within the new government to share power with one another and work as a team is a refreshing break from the past.  The previous president centralized more and more power in himself and his close associates.  As a result there was a lack of transparency in their dealings, but also a lack of creativity.  The former government engaged in giant infrastructure development of roads, ports, airports and building of offices, hotels and apartments, but with little or no participation by other actors in the polity.  Therefore the benefits seemed to accrue primarily to a few and not to all.  In the present government, on the other hand, each minister is vested with authority in his or her own sphere.  As a result reading and listening to the news has become interesting because there is something new and creative being done, or being promised, by different members of the government. 
Diversity is a source of strength as it offers the possibility of different solutions to different challenges.  The diversity within the government is a source of strength as it represents the diversity of the people of the country.  The power sharing that is taking place within the new government and the ability of political parties with differing ideologies and ethnic constituencies to work together is a sign of unity in diversity.   When such political parties can work together in the government, no significant section of the people are likely to feel marginalized and left out and so they are less likely to rebel against the government.
To its credit, the government is also addressing other crucial problems that it did not include in the 100 day programme.  During the election campaign, there was one significant issue that they did not talk about in any depth.  This was the ethnic issue.

Contentious issues
However, soon after the elections, the government has been moving swiftly to address this lacuna.  Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera immediately flew to India to obtain Indian support to address the contentious issues of a political solution to the ethnic conflict and also to deal with the UN probe into war crimes.  He said that the government had the political will to push through a solution, so there was no more need to form committees and to deliberate on what the solution should be, as this had been done several times over.  He also said the government was committed to implementing the 13th amendment on devolution of powers to Tamil-majority areas, but would start discussions with all parties after the next parliamentary elections.  In addition, the government has sent the country’s top international diplomat, and former UN Under Secretary General Jayantha Dhanapala to meet with the UN Human Rights Commissioner in Geneva to seek a better solution to the war crimes issue.
The UN inquiry got under way due to the failure of the previous government to undertake such an inquiry itself.  There was no credible national investigation to ascertain the truth of what had happened.  However, by refusing to engage with the UN on the issue, the government escalated the conflict with it.  This was a conflict with, essentially, the rest of the world that it was destined to lose.  It is when national processes fail that international processes kick in.  The change of government in Sri Lanka has given the new government a window of opportunity, and a breathing space, to hold a credible national investigation.  There is a need to be responsive to the concerns of the Tamil people who were the main victims of the last phase of the war to know the truth, and of international demands for accountability.
But there is a need to tread this ground carefully.  Putting the house in order is a cooperative and considered task. Although the government that spread nationalist fear and hatred is gone, there is a need to heal the wound they left in the body politic and which will continue to exploit.   The nationalism that the former government aroused was not a Sri Lankan nationalism that would unite the people but one that was based on extreme ethnic nationalism that divided the ethnic communities.  This gained the former President the majority of Sinhalese votes in the rural areas in particular.  This is a divide that needs to be healed as it is liable to be exploited again during the run up to the general elections that are due in June.  There is also a need for a more holistic public education campaign that would sustain the positive changes that have occurred.

Comment

Jehan Perera in Colombo

The government is proceeding with its 100-day programmme that President Maithripala Sirisena presented as part of his election manifesto. This plan promised a national government and new cabinet with UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as its Prime Minister after the presidential election.  It also contained a promise to change from a presidential to a parliamentary system, to repeal the 18th Amendment, to come up with a 19th Amendment to the Constitution, restoring independent commissions, setting up a national advisory council and also presenting an interim budget.  The detailed plan also included setting up a special investigatory mechanism to probe corruption and passing legislation on right to information and a new health policy.
Previous presidents made big promises that they did not keep and their promises ended up being seen as gimmicks simply to win votes and the election. Viewed in the context of promises made by previous governments, the 100 day programme is impressive in both the national consensus it has obtained and also in being implemented.   The first promise that was fulfilled was the appointment of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister.   The promise to establish a National Advisory Council has been fulfilled by the appointment of a National Executive Council thought still without the civil society representation that was promised, but it still is an impressive body having the participation of virtually the entire range of mainstream political parties, including the ethnic minorities. 

Smooth transition
After the presidential elections there has been an exceptionally smooth takeover of the reins of government by the political parties that constitute the NDF government.  One of the key factors in the smoothness of the transition of power has also been President Maithripala Sirisena’s readiness to keep to his pre-election promises.  During the election campaign President Sirisena recognized that his voters would come largely from the main opposition party headed by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and promised to appoint the UNP leader as Prime Minister.   By way of contrast, the once powerful UPFA is today in shambles and its former leaders are being discredited with more and more revelations of corruption, violence and even of seeking to abort the presidential  election outcome when they knew they were losing.   The law and the unfettering of the media from the thrall of fear and self-censorship are dispelling the myths of the past about their claims of patriotism and national interest.
President Sirisena’s decision to appoint Ranil Wickremasinghe as prime minister within minutes of his own oath taking as president lay to rest any apprehension of conflict between the two leaders.  There was a possibility that once elected, and vested with the plenitude of powers of the presidency, President Sirisena might renege on his promise and seek to take control over the new government himself.  But the working relationship between the president and prime minister, and the division of responsibilities between them, has so far been very good to all appearances.  There has been an appearance of honor and realism on the part of the president who was elected with mainly UNP and ethnic minority votes and an acknowledgment of the debt owed.  This positivity and an attitude of power sharing and team work that did not exist in the former government permeate the structure of new government at the present time.

Sharing POWER
The willingness of those within the new government to share power with one another and work as a team is a refreshing break from the past.  The previous president centralized more and more power in himself and his close associates.  As a result there was a lack of transparency in their dealings, but also a lack of creativity.  The former government engaged in giant infrastructure development of roads, ports, airports and building of offices, hotels and apartments, but with little or no participation by other actors in the polity.  Therefore the benefits seemed to accrue primarily to a few and not to all.  In the present government, on the other hand, each minister is vested with authority in his or her own sphere.  As a result reading and listening to the news has become interesting because there is something new and creative being done, or being promised, by different members of the government. 
Diversity is a source of strength as it offers the possibility of different solutions to different challenges.  The diversity within the government is a source of strength as it represents the diversity of the people of the country.  The power sharing that is taking place within the new government and the ability of political parties with differing ideologies and ethnic constituencies to work together is a sign of unity in diversity.   When such political parties can work together in the government, no significant section of the people are likely to feel marginalized and left out and so they are less likely to rebel against the government.
To its credit, the government is also addressing other crucial problems that it did not include in the 100 day programme.  During the election campaign, there was one significant issue that they did not talk about in any depth.  This was the ethnic issue.

Contentious issues
However, soon after the elections, the government has been moving swiftly to address this lacuna.  Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera immediately flew to India to obtain Indian support to address the contentious issues of a political solution to the ethnic conflict and also to deal with the UN probe into war crimes.  He said that the government had the political will to push through a solution, so there was no more need to form committees and to deliberate on what the solution should be, as this had been done several times over.  He also said the government was committed to implementing the 13th amendment on devolution of powers to Tamil-majority areas, but would start discussions with all parties after the next parliamentary elections.  In addition, the government has sent the country’s top international diplomat, and former UN Under Secretary General Jayantha Dhanapala to meet with the UN Human Rights Commissioner in Geneva to seek a better solution to the war crimes issue.
The UN inquiry got under way due to the failure of the previous government to undertake such an inquiry itself.  There was no credible national investigation to ascertain the truth of what had happened.  However, by refusing to engage with the UN on the issue, the government escalated the conflict with it.  This was a conflict with, essentially, the rest of the world that it was destined to lose.  It is when national processes fail that international processes kick in.  The change of government in Sri Lanka has given the new government a window of opportunity, and a breathing space, to hold a credible national investigation.  There is a need to be responsive to the concerns of the Tamil people who were the main victims of the last phase of the war to know the truth, and of international demands for accountability.
But there is a need to tread this ground carefully.  Putting the house in order is a cooperative and considered task. Although the government that spread nationalist fear and hatred is gone, there is a need to heal the wound they left in the body politic and which will continue to exploit.   The nationalism that the former government aroused was not a Sri Lankan nationalism that would unite the people but one that was based on extreme ethnic nationalism that divided the ethnic communities.  This gained the former President the majority of Sinhalese votes in the rural areas in particular.  This is a divide that needs to be healed as it is liable to be exploited again during the run up to the general elections that are due in June.  There is also a need for a more holistic public education campaign that would sustain the positive changes that have occurred.


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 ISLAMABAD DIARY

China declares Pakistan an irreplaceable all-weather friend

Jonaid Iqbal

Chinese civilian and military leaders have reiterated that Pakistan is a ‘‘strategic partner, an irreplaceable all-weather friend and that the two countries were also part of a community of shared heritage.’’
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed this statement during his meeting with Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday on a two-day official visit to China, for discussions on defence and security cooperation.
According to military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, who  accompanied the COAS, Pak Army Chief met several Chinese civil and military  leaders, including Mr. Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of People’s Conference, State Leader, Yu Zhengsheng as well as Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Mr. Zhengsheng remarked that Pakistan has always stood by China and was his country’s most reliable partner.
Mr. Meng Jianzhu, member Politburo, the second highest council, within the Community Party, assured the COAS of China’s consistent policy towards Pakistan. He said his country’s policy is beyond individuals, adding “Pakistan’s concern is indeed China’s concern,” because Pakistan is perceived as China’s reliable partner.
According to Maj. Gen. Bajwa, before returning home on Monday, Gen. Sharif thanked the Chinese leaders for hosting his visit and emphasized ‘the world must understand evolving environment. Greater international focus, coordination needed to logically conclude fight against terrorism.”
During the visit, the Chinese leadership voiced strong support for Pakistan that has been battling militancy since the last 10 years; and the new phase of this fight entered after the tragic massacre at the Army Public School at Peshawar on 16 December. Accordingly need was felt during the visit that long-term defence relationship and extremism and counter-terrorism are at the forefront on the minds of both governments.
Within a space of two months COAS Gen. Sharif has done a lot of travelling, visiting USA, UK and to China this month to meet and share a range of views and information.
Will you call it a mere coincidence that he flew to China on the same date on which US President Barack Hussein Obama arrived in New Delhi as chief gust at the commemoration of 66th anniversary of Indian Republic Day?  Were these two official visits not significant in their own way?
Hence both of them have come under the ken of those whose job is to analyze situations in the Asian continent. 
No point denying, Pakistan felt itself snubbed by US President’s two times visit to India but finding no time for Pakistan in his travel itinerary.

Obama’s mom worked in Punjab
After all, Barack Hussein Obama has lived here for some time in the past. Her mother used to work in Punjab for an international NGO, and he would visit her. He is also on record for being fond of eating a Pakistani dish, keema (fried minced meat). Earlier on, after he had ascended the Presidency, in an interview with Anwar Iqbal, a Dawn staffer, he promised to visit Pakistan, some time; he has not kept that promise.
Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s symbolic warm embrace and reception for President Obama, notwithstanding, Pakistan well understands  that two large democracies can and do engage with each other  to evolve a new chapter in bilateral relationship. However, in Pakistani view in signing nuclear deal these two countries are on a course to destabilize the region. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign relations and national security, said this very thing in a written statement, just a few hours before President Obama flew to Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday.
China has also demurred at US position that India was ready for membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. On this, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ms Hua Chunying said, India’s admission to the Group required ‘‘very careful consideration from all member countries.’’
For all that a Pakistan analyst – former newspaper editor – thinks ‘the best way to deal with such countries [who makeup friends and enemies on their own terms] is to keep mutual conflicts reduced to minimum and maintain focus on issues on which the two can cooperate. He has hope that eventually “India will just have to come to some kind of peaceful settlement with Pakistan on all contentious issues plaguing their [India and Pakistan] s bilateral relations.

Comment

Jonaid Iqbal

Chinese civilian and military leaders have reiterated that Pakistan is a ‘‘strategic partner, an irreplaceable all-weather friend and that the two countries were also part of a community of shared heritage.’’
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed this statement during his meeting with Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday on a two-day official visit to China, for discussions on defence and security cooperation.
According to military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, who  accompanied the COAS, Pak Army Chief met several Chinese civil and military  leaders, including Mr. Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of People’s Conference, State Leader, Yu Zhengsheng as well as Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Mr. Zhengsheng remarked that Pakistan has always stood by China and was his country’s most reliable partner.
Mr. Meng Jianzhu, member Politburo, the second highest council, within the Community Party, assured the COAS of China’s consistent policy towards Pakistan. He said his country’s policy is beyond individuals, adding “Pakistan’s concern is indeed China’s concern,” because Pakistan is perceived as China’s reliable partner.
According to Maj. Gen. Bajwa, before returning home on Monday, Gen. Sharif thanked the Chinese leaders for hosting his visit and emphasized ‘the world must understand evolving environment. Greater international focus, coordination needed to logically conclude fight against terrorism.”
During the visit, the Chinese leadership voiced strong support for Pakistan that has been battling militancy since the last 10 years; and the new phase of this fight entered after the tragic massacre at the Army Public School at Peshawar on 16 December. Accordingly need was felt during the visit that long-term defence relationship and extremism and counter-terrorism are at the forefront on the minds of both governments.
Within a space of two months COAS Gen. Sharif has done a lot of travelling, visiting USA, UK and to China this month to meet and share a range of views and information.
Will you call it a mere coincidence that he flew to China on the same date on which US President Barack Hussein Obama arrived in New Delhi as chief gust at the commemoration of 66th anniversary of Indian Republic Day?  Were these two official visits not significant in their own way?
Hence both of them have come under the ken of those whose job is to analyze situations in the Asian continent. 
No point denying, Pakistan felt itself snubbed by US President’s two times visit to India but finding no time for Pakistan in his travel itinerary.

Obama’s mom worked in Punjab
After all, Barack Hussein Obama has lived here for some time in the past. Her mother used to work in Punjab for an international NGO, and he would visit her. He is also on record for being fond of eating a Pakistani dish, keema (fried minced meat). Earlier on, after he had ascended the Presidency, in an interview with Anwar Iqbal, a Dawn staffer, he promised to visit Pakistan, some time; he has not kept that promise.
Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s symbolic warm embrace and reception for President Obama, notwithstanding, Pakistan well understands  that two large democracies can and do engage with each other  to evolve a new chapter in bilateral relationship. However, in Pakistani view in signing nuclear deal these two countries are on a course to destabilize the region. Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign relations and national security, said this very thing in a written statement, just a few hours before President Obama flew to Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday.
China has also demurred at US position that India was ready for membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. On this, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ms Hua Chunying said, India’s admission to the Group required ‘‘very careful consideration from all member countries.’’
For all that a Pakistan analyst – former newspaper editor – thinks ‘the best way to deal with such countries [who makeup friends and enemies on their own terms] is to keep mutual conflicts reduced to minimum and maintain focus on issues on which the two can cooperate. He has hope that eventually “India will just have to come to some kind of peaceful settlement with Pakistan on all contentious issues plaguing their [India and Pakistan] s bilateral relations.


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