The Pakistan Army is defending a panicked Saudi Arabia from being infiltrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The Times reports that fearing an invasion by the Al Qaeda splinter group along its 500-mile porous border with Iraq, the Saudis have called in military assistance from Pakistan and
Egypt. ISIS has established a radical Islamic state-within-a-state in parts of Iraq and Syria. Daunted its advance, Saudi Arabia has ratcheted up its defence expenditure. It is now the world’s 4th largest military spender, having spent an estimated £35 billion on defence last year. The Times reports that this huge outlay indicates the Kingdom’s unease about whether its defences would hold if ISIS launched a direct attack against it. Defending Mecca is of paramount concern to the Saudis as ISIS has made it clear that they have the holy city in their sights. The Times quotes an advisor of the Saudi government as saying: “The kingdom is calling in favours from Egypt and Pakistan. No one is certain what ISIS has planned, but it’s clear a group like this will target Mecca if it can. We expect them to run out of steam, but no one is taking any chances.”
The rapid advance of ISIS, which has established a caliphate within the large swathes of Iraq and parts of Syria it controls, has panicked governments throughout the region. Saudi’s King Abdullah, who swore to take “all necessary measures” to defend the world’s largest oil producer from falling into ISIS’s hand, deployed an extra 30,000 troops along its border with Iraqi in July. But, The Times reports, “It now appears, however, that many of those soldiers were foreign”. However, as the newspaper reports, a greater danger to the Saudi government appears to be from within the Kingdom itself. Thousands of Saudis have gone abroad to join the jihadists, raising fears of a backlash when these battle-hardened fighters will return home. The newspaper continues that an Egyptian government spokesman denied that it had sent troops to Saudi Arabia, but said the two allies remained in constant contact about the terrorist threat. “The security of the Gulf impacts on the security of the entire Middle East,” she said.