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The Djinn Emerges

November 7th, 2013 - 11:59 am

Mark Urban, a diplomatic editor at the BBC writes that Saudi nuclear weapons are  ’on order’ from Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight.

While the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.

Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery. …

This summer experts at defence publishers Jane’s reported the completion of a new Saudi CSS-2 base with missile launch rails aligned with Israel and Iran.

These developments will probably come as a shock to those who put their trust in the nonproliferation treaty, since Saudi Arabia is actually a signatory.

Urban noted the Kingdom had been falling out of alignment with the US since 2003, when it began to re-assess its strategic posture, a situation accelerated by Saudi resentment over the topping of Saddam Hussein. Gradually it became the Kingdom’s goal to match the emergence of a nuclear Iran with its own deterrent.

The public and highly dramatic Saudi anger over president Obama’s desire to negotiate with Iran may have been the last straw or simply a pretext to carry out a plan long intended. The Saudis are the first country on record to refuse a seat in the Security Council.

The supposed weapons are aimed not at Iran but at anyone else who may threaten its interests. Urban said “unnamed Pakistanis opined that “it is logical for the Saudis to step in as the physical ‘protector’ of the Arab world by seeking nuclear weapons, according to one of the State Department cables posted by Wikileaks.”

Pakistan has denied the accusations. Al Arabiya writes

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday denied as “speculative, mischievous and baseless” a report by the BBC that Islamabad has agreed to sell nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia.

“Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapon state with robust command and control structures and comprehensive export controls,” a Pakistani official told the BBC’s Newsnight.

However those unwilling to trust in Pakistan’s assurance may conclude that the Sunni Arab world now has access to nuclear weapons either via the Saudi nuclear umbrella (as ‘protector’ of the Arab world) or direct from Pakistan itself.

But the Guardian tells basically the same story as the BBC, without the punchline. In the middle of last month Ian Black detailed Saudi Anger at the US-Iran ‘thaw’. It roughly follows the same narrative arc as the BBC’s story.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strategic rivals since before the 1979 revolution – the shah was known as the “policeman of the Gulf” – as well as the respective leaders of the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. Iran’s position was inadvertently strengthened by the US-led invasion of Iraq and the installation of a Shia government in Baghdad. Tehran backs Assad and Hizbullah in Lebanon while Riyadh openly advocates regime change in Damascus. Syria’s conflict is indeed, in some ways, a proxy war.

The Saudis also fear Iran’s nuclear ambitions – King Abdullah famously urged the US to “cut off the head of the snake” – and have repeatedly signalled that they will acquire nuclear weapons if Iran does. They blame Tehran – though without much evidence – for encouraging Shia opposition to the Sunni monarchy in neighbouring Bahrain. Shias in the kingdom’s eastern provinces face state repression and Saudi clerics have used inflammatory sectarian language over Syria, especially Assad’s Alawite community….

In private conversations senior Saudis are scathing about President Obama’s preference for inspections and disarmament over military action … US support for moderate Islamists is another source of resentment. The Saudis were furious at Obama’s (belated) abandonment of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and subsequent embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. …

Yet alarm is palpable elsewhere in the Gulf. “GCC leaders must wake up to the looming danger,” warned the influential Emirati businessman Khalaf al-Habtoor. “The countdown has started; the US/Iranian plan is about to be implemented. A serious plan of action is urgently required. GCC states are strong enough to stand alone both economically and militarily and should not permit foreign powers to make decisions for them.”

That “countdown” has apparently reached the single digits.

Not everyone is worried, only last week Shashank Joshi wrote in Bloomberg that “Obama Can Safely Ignore Saudi Tantrums”.

Trouble has been brewing in this relationship for years. Saudi Arabia was aghast at President Barack Obama’s support for the 2011 Egyptian revolution, which overthrew another old U.S. ally, former President Hosni Mubarak. It was aggrieved, too, at the lack of U.S. support for that year’s Saudi-led intervention to put down a pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain.

More recently, in July, the Saudis took issue with U.S. criticism of the military coup that toppled Egypt’s freely elected Muslim Brotherhood regime. While the Saudis pledged billions of dollars of support for the thinly disguised junta that took control in Cairo, the U.S cut aid to undermine it.

Now the Saudis are fretting that rejuvenated U.S.-Iranian nuclear diplomacy might lead to a wider rapprochement at their expense. Above all, the Saudis have lost patience with Obama’s hesitance in arming the rebels who are fighting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, an Iranian ally. The final straw appears to have been U.S.’s decision to cancel planned missile strikes to punish Assad for his use of chemical weapons, and Obama’s support for a Russian-backed disarmament plan and peace talks.

But the conclusion was that the Kingdom needed Obama more than Obama needed Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is shooting itself in the foot. Spurning a seat on the UN Security Council has deprived it of an important platform and will make no difference to Russia’s and China’s support for the Assad regime. Nor will refusing to cooperate with the U.S. make Obama fall in line with the Saudi goal of an absolute rebel victory in Syria. Instead, the White House probably will become even more skeptical of the increasingly fragmented Islamist opposition forces and of Saudi Arabia’s reliability as a partner in Syria.

But that analysis may not accurately depict the real situation. The plain meaning of any Saudi acquisition of nukes would be to nullify, as trivial and irrelevant, president Obama’s signature campaign to disarm Syria of chemical weapons. Moreover, it will signal that nuclear nonproliferation is dead or dying. The nuclear armament of Iran has as predicted, set off an arms race that will resonate around the world. How long until and Japan, Korea or Germany get their own arms?

Saudi Arabia has been the hinge around which American policy has pivoted for the last 30 years. The first pivot occurred when Ronald Reagan built a coalition around it to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan. The second pivot was September 11 when the forces engendered by that anti-Soviet coalition turned against the West with dramatic effec in Manhattan. Bush’s response — the invasion of Iraq — was the third pivot. OIF can be characterized as an attempt to “kill the Iraqi chicken to scare the Saudi monkey”, an effort to reimpose the dominance of the hegemon on a rebellious regional ally without actually destroying it. It was an effort which the Kingdom strongly resisted.

The Saudi pushback took the form we loosely remember as the Iraq War during which the Saudis and their allies waged proxy war against US forces in Iraq via an an army of thousands of Jihadis.

Part of “scaring the Saudi monkey” took the form of opening a door to Iran. Iraq was potentially the second most powerful Shia majority country in the world, hence the anti-Sunni surge in Anbar coupled with the neutralization, yet preservation of ambiguous figures like Sadr posed a double threat: it took Iraq away from the Sunnis and created a potential rival to Teheran.

But the fourth pivot was to come. Saudi policy was defeated on the battlefield but it was powerful politically. The Kingdom assisted in the election of Barack Obama who decamped from Iraq no sooner than he was elected. It will be recalled that Obama advertised his opposition Iraq loudly — hint, hint. He famously bowed to the Saudi King. He signed onto the Arab Spring. In the beginning there was almost no daylight between the Kingdom and Obama.

Then a fifth pivot occurred for reasons which are not completely clear. But it is reasonable to suppose it arose from the unintended effects of following the Saudi lead.  The redeployment of US forces to Afghanistan left the opened door between Iraq and Iran unguarded and Teheran promptly stepped through the portal. Then the “Arab Spring” began to unravel, and Obama unsurprisingly got cold feet.  The gap between Saudi and administration positions widened apace as recriminations grew.

Obama committed the double blunder of abandoning a working strategy without one of his own.  He zigged than he zagged and finally tied himself up in knots. Though the Bush idea may have been flawed in execution, it was probably the last one in Washington viewed itself as the hegemon trying to impose hegemony. In contrast, the policy which replaced it was designed by the same people who gave the world the Obamacare website.

Eventually things reached the present stage. The Saudis had clearly given up on Obama by the time they threw the Security Council position in his face. This development leaves the administration in an awkward position. Washington had traditionally played Riyadh against Moscow and Teheran. Now both Riyadh and Teheran — and conceivably Moscow — were against it.

If Washington was hoist on its own petard by the Jihad, it was once again strung up by the Arab Spring. The administration’s position is now a very interesting one because the Kingdom, in declaring its strategic independence, has surrendered the primary benefit of free-riding.  Henceforth it must now pay its way.  Saudi Arabia’s arms will not be the last word. Israel, Iran, Turkey — perhaps the Southern Europeans — will surely be tempted to follow suit. That is the nature of arms races.  And in that race the Kingdom will find that not even they can always keep up with the Joneses.

And as for Obama, one can only hope he is long gone by then. Retired to the links in Hawaii when relaxing from writing his fake memoirs.  He is better at that than at foreign policy.


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Top Rated Comments   
I quite agree. If proliferation is inevitable, then it should be architected in a stable way. This means building stable partnerships based, not on a monopoly or duopoly of weapons, but nevertheless on some cooperative framework.

One of the main sources of nuclear danger is accidental discharge. Hence, you can sell C3 systems as well as monitoring systems to create stability within the systems. In fact, the big sales are probably in the nonkinetic.

Moreover, you can sell missile defense systems to guard against rogue or accidental firings. Lots of things can be done, money making too, not necessarily even immoral -- except of course to Obama's mob.

Obama's mob hate anything that works. Hate anything that turns a buck. It is as though they hated competence itself and so declare it immoral. These are the ones who rejected "unproven missile defense systems", who eschewed "advanced combat systems" and who worked to abolish everything to build a "world without nuclear weapons".

If you want a world without nuclear weapons, get rid of Pakistan. But since that's not possible, then pursue a rational strategy. But these are the same guys who built the Obamacare website. It's beyond them, utterly beyond them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's use some common sense here. If the USA can't stop proliferation, or at least prefers not to under the current glorious Democrat Administration, at the least, America should lead the world in the proliferation. After all, there's a lot of money to be made for the Democrat-crony-companies, and ex-Democrat politicians all around.

If Russia and China want Iran and S.A. to have Nuclear weapons, then by God, let's make sure that they have the very best, using all ca$h transactions. America should sell weapons and missiles to the Middle East, and also to Japan, S. Korea, Georgia, the Poles ... any former Eastern European country, heck, even the Philippines deserves to own it's own MERV's, launched from sub based platforms (i.e. we can work out deals with Japan and the Germans to broker great deals on launch platforms).

I would expect Putin to throw up a little in his mouth, and the Chinese will act like N. Korea and threaten everyone, but in the end, MAD-style throw-weight and good old American $graft should win the argument.

Or not. The world may just blow themselves all to hell. That's why America should use the profits to build a 50's style new-technology nuclear arsenal, complete from the little tiny neutron bombs up to and including the extra big cobalt-world-ending-city-busters! All backed, of course, by the latest and greatest in "useless" missile defense systems to protect America from all the worlds incoming.

In any case, if ever there were a case AGAINST Obama's plans for unilateral nuclear disarmament, our pals the Saudi's just made it for us (f*ck Allah's b-boys, inshallah, at the hands of virulent Western Crusaders!).

I'm even feeling reverential tonight! Bring on the bombs, baby. It's a brave, new, Obamaworld! There'll be plenty of bombs to go around.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Over the last few years I have mentioned the Saudi possession of CSS-2's and posted satellite photos and detailed coordinates of their launch bases and storage bunkers. The cascade is beginning. Pakistan sells warheads to the Saudis. They are also known to have worked with the North Koreans on missile technology and nuclear matters. If the bazaar is open, how many warheads have headed East, and also on point, when? As in are they there already?

It is not only a matter of Saudi -v- Persian in the Middle East; but as warheads spread there is the surety that HAMAS, Hezbollah, the MB, Al Quada, in whatever incarnation they are using at the moment will also acquire a critical number. That number being any integer >0.

The US will do nothing unless struck, and quite possibly even not after that, given the loyalties of the Governing Class. Israel will not wait to be struck. The Saudis are a faction-ridden, inbred, cloud of princes, princelings, and various hangers-on and no one knows what the in the name of the 9 billion names of the Deity they will do depending on who is on top. And their top is shaky for both health reasons and possible internal dissent.

The Saudi King has spinal degeneration, and is reported to have had cardiac surgery, and is less than healthy. Since 2006, the throne is not purely hereditary, but will be passed according to a vote of the most powerful of the family [like that works out well ever]. The oilfields are in Shia area of the Sunni Wahabist Kingdom. They may well decide to strike first in any number of directions.

And there is the outlier possibility that one of the terrorist groups could strike in Europe. Think Car-be-cue's on a grand scale.

There is no good ending possible. And the Third Conjecture comes nearer.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (63)
All Comments   (63)
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Not by the hair of my djinni djinn djinn.
Couldn't resist it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We may be making the Leftist/Progressive/Liberal/Marxist/Academic mistake of over-estimating the effect of nuclear weapons on a nation state. Nukes are merely Big Bangs. Hurricane ChimpyMcBooshKatrina hit New Orleans with the impact of many Big Bangs -- and the Big Easy is still there. Iran is about 1/6 the area of the US including Alaska; 20-100 nukes would leave most of Iran untouched.

The exception, as always, is Israel, which lacks the geographic depth to absorb any kind of hit. The corrolary of Israel's lack of strategic depth is that an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel would undoubtedly take care of the Palestinian problem once & for all -- by eliminating them. Talk about destroying the village to save it! Fortunately, we can all sleep easy in our beds since Jonnie Heinz-Kerry is on the case.

The more interesting thing is the rapid implosion of Soetero. There are more than a few Democrat Senators up for re-election who have huge egos and are not protected by gerrymandered electoral boundaries. How long before some of those Dem Sens decide that calling for Lil' Barry's impeachment is the best way to secure their own re-election?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Take it with a grain of salt. Here is Debka’s explanation:

[Debka]

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu admitted he was stunned by the terms of the accord negotiated with Iran, calling it a “monumental, historic mistake” and “Iran’s deal of the century.”

Tehran has conceded nothing and receives limited sanctions relief, he said.

The interim agreement, said Netanyahu, buries the possibility of a peaceful final accord for dismantling Iran's nuclear program once and for all. “Israel is not obliged by this agreement and will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and defend the security of its people,” he said.
His words carried two messages:

1. Israel has abandoned its trust in Barack Obama ever complying with his pledge to its security and will henceforth act on its own.

2. Israel’s only remaining course now is to exercise its military option against Iran’s nuclear capability – whether openly or covertly.

For five years, Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned the world that Israel was ready for military action to preempt a nuclear-armed Iran. Each successive repetition was received on a diminishing scale of credibility. His response to the Geneva accord is therefore anyone’s guess.

http://debka.com/article/23428/Geneva-fallout-Iran-becomes-a-nuclear-power-followed-by-Saudis-Israel-loses-trust-in-Obama

I will note that American Jews have voted for 0bama. Now, they are getting the shaft.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First off, President William J Leptomane is not in charge of this he can not even get right the few things he is actually interested in. I don't buy our Mideast Policy is in a shambles, Teresita reminded us some weeks ago the general tenor around here in the past has been to dump Saudia as an ally it does appear to be happening.

Saudi is the first customer in Pakistan's nuke-souk, it was from the start and I considered those weapons the same as Saudi's plus (here or at NRO) I recall reading a story about the Sauds buying nuke capable missiles back in the Clinton days. So I am not all shocked or surprised by stories that say Saudi is seeking purchase of a nuke. I also want to venture and state the GCC nations and Israel have at least a tacit and high level mutual understanding, both view their chief enemy as Iran and not each other. I am sure neither the GCC or Israel will go at all far to help each other but I am also certain they will not go very far to bother each other either. The only way Saudis gets an Israeli nuke is one that is armed, delivered via ballistic missile, and set to detonate somewhere over the kingdom.

When I heard the story about Saudi turning to Russia that struck me as odd and was wondering how Saudi thinks they may be able to split Russia and Iran. Telling Putin those Olympic games he has are real nice is not going to do it.

The fight in the ME is mostly a proxy war between Saudi & Iran or Sunni vs. Shiite and it appears our government wants to change sides or at least drop the entire affair all together. President Lepetomane can at best slow down domestic energy resource development he can not stop it nor can anyone else. If those reserves are as significant as they say they are....

I think Saudi sees the end of their light & sweet and they know they will need to deal with Iran before that happens or they will become a province of Iran.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If Obama could engineer the Shiites and Sunni's blowing each other off the M.E. map, I might just support him for his all-but-certain third term. (Hey, when you can rake in the foreign $$ anonymously, blatantly rig the polls in every critical district, the election's in the bag and screw the U.S. Constitution - Obama does anyway, every chance he gets.)

Unfortunately, the GREAT ONE will probably just manage to turn the targeting of every non-US nuke in the world towards the continental USA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
--i would leave out that "non-US" qualifier. I'll put down some links right here --but tomorrow --the sandman has got holt of me tonight.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Richard, that typhoon may well blow the chinese fishing boats off the reef islands off the coast of the Phillipinese.

A quick fly over after the storm would show the results...or a satellite photo if anyone has connections in the right places.

If the Chinese were blown off--then before they could return it might be prudent for the Philippines to park a couple of their old destroyers off the islands plus some fishing boats, some researchers, some coconut farmers, a mobile tv station (to broadcast pictures of chinese threats)and soldiers, and ask neighboring countries to park their warships in a ring further out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
this stuff of course would all have to be planned and executed in the next 72 hours.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sadly, I rather suspect that the Philippines does not have the resources to do this, and that what they have are rather preoccupied.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you can't defend it, then you don't own it. That's the principle of national sovereignty in a nutshell.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OT, but might be of interest--I received the following from Marine Corps Association:

https://www.miltours.com/tours/asia-pacific/world-war-ii-in-the-philippines-26-jan-4-feb
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
People, kindly pray for the Philippines. A typhoon packing sustained winds over 195 mph is making landfall there
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/11/07/philippines-typhoon/3465779/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
God bless and preserve all those who are affected.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Prayers outbound, for certain, for God's protection, rescue, and the comfort and strength of the Filipino people, in Jesus name.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"LONDON — In a surprise choice that bodes poorly for proposed peace talks, the Pakistani Taliban on Thursday appointed as their new leader the hard-line commander responsible for last year’s attack on Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani education activist. "

Maybe they're sending a message.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/world/asia/pakistani-taliban-appoints-mullah-fazlullah-new-leader.html?_r=0
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Should the United States drone him or not? Malala Yousafzai has come out full force against drone strikes, so maybe she can try defending herself from the Taliban with her pencil.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Pakistan has rubbed the magic lamp
Releasing to the detriment of all
A djinn who is about to put his stamp
On every single fearsome fireball
The Saudis think they’re safe by nuking up
And truth to tell they very well may be
But very soon the runneth over cup
Will glaze the sands from Gulf to the Red Sea
The shoreline of the Med will wither, die
And states that once were there will be no more
The djinn now smiles for he knows by and bye
Are different words but tell just what’s in store

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The "stability–instability paradox" (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and Love the Bomb) states that "when two countries each have nuclear weapons, the probability of a direct war between them greatly decreases, but the probability of minor or indirect conflicts between them increases."

India-Pakistan is the example.

Thanks Barack.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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