Pakistan sends combat troops to Saudi southern border

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 03:28 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 90 times

The Pakistan army is sending a brigade of combat troops to shore up Saudi Arabia’s vulnerable southern border from reprisal attacks mounted by the Houthis in Yemen, according to senior security sources.

 

The brigade will be based in the south of the Kingdom, but will only be deployed inside its border, the sources told Middle East Eye. "It will not be used beyond Saudi borders," one said.

It is the latest twist in a brutal and devastating two-year war, which has killed more than 10,000 people in Yemen, injured over 40,000 and brought the impoverished nation to the verge of famine.

Both sides have been accused of war crimes and starving civilians trapped in the carnage.

The war was launched by Saudi Arabia and its Arab coalition allies after the Houthis overran Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, and the southern port of Aden and ousted the Saudi-backed president, Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

Increasingly, the Houthis have been retaliating with cross-border missile strikes on targets deep inside the kingdom.

Last month the Houthis claimed to have hit a military camp near al-Mazahimiyah near Riyadh with what they called "a precision long-distance ballistic missile". The Saudis denied the claim.

On 31 January, a missile killed 80 soldiers on a base run jointly by the Saudis and Emiratis on Zuqar island in the Red Sea, according to reports in Arabic media. The Saudis did not confirm nor deny the strike.

In October last a year a missile was shot down about 65km from Mecca, although the Houthis denied targeting the holy city.

The deployment of the Pakistani brigade follows a visit by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to Saudi Arabia on a three-day official visit in December last year.

"COAS reiterated Pakistan's commitment to the security and protection of the Holy Mosques and also the territorial integrity of the kingdom," the Pakistani army said in a statement.

"Later, General Qamar Javed Bajwa met chief of general staff of Saudi Forces, General Abdul Rehman bin Saleh al-Bunyan, to discuss military to military relations, defence cooperation and regional security situation.

"Both leaders agreed to boost military cooperation and collaboration."

The area of deployment for the Pakistani brigade is politically sensitive in Islamabad, because two years ago the parliament rejected a request by Saudi Arabia's King Salman for Pakistan to join a "Sunni" coalition to fight the Houthis.

The deployment of the Pakistani brigade follows a visit by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to Saudi Arabia on a three-day official visit in December last year.

"COAS reiterated Pakistan's commitment to the security and protection of the Holy Mosques and also the territorial integrity of the kingdom," the Pakistani army said in a statement.

"Later, General Qamar Javed Bajwa met chief of general staff of Saudi Forces, General Abdul Rehman bin Saleh al-Bunyan, to discuss military to military relations, defence cooperation and regional security situation.

"Both leaders agreed to boost military cooperation and collaboration."

The area of deployment for the Pakistani brigade is politically sensitive in Islamabad, because two years ago the parliament rejected a request by Saudi Arabia's King Salman for Pakistan to join a "Sunni" coalition to fight the Houthis.