Saudi strategists sceptical of Yemen truce
While the month of Ramadan is meant to deliver an unprecedented halt to hostilities in Yemen, regional intelligence services remain on alert, fearful of future actions by Houthi militiamen.
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Still persona non grata in international politics, the Taliban are hoping to negotiate their first contracts with the West and shed sanctions paralysing their ambitions in Afghanistan. The Biden administration does not, for the moment, have any plans to shift its position.
With the presence of secessionist factions, the Pakistani Taliban branch and the local affiliate of Islamic State, the province of Balochistan, where China is carrying out a number of major projects, has become increasingly unstable.
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, which is useful to Riyadh as a channel of communication with the Talibans in Afghanistan, is also of interest because of its know-how in the nuclear field. Saudi Arabia plans to provide Pakistan's military industrial complex with fresh financing in return for more help in the development of its own nuclear sector.
Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence believed that it could bring the country's Talibans back into line by organising a truce. Now that the truce has been broken, however, spy chiefs are concentrating on securing Pakistan's border with Afghanistan at the risk of alienating their allies in Kabul.
Faced with a resurgence in the activities of the Taliban Pakistani branch, Tehrik-i-Taliban, the Pakistani intelligence services have opted for dialogue rather than armed repression. They asked the new rulers in Afghanistan to negotiate a truce, which was finally concluded on 9 November.
Monopolised by the situation in Afghanistan, particularly the threat from Islamic State in Khorasan, Pakistan's intelligence service is also caught in a power struggle between the prime minister and the head of the armed forces while it awaits the appointment of a new chief.
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, which played a key role in the victory of the Talibans in Kabul, remains highly active in Europe, particularly in Germany, which is a favourite target for its technology sourcing activities.
Despite the proximity between Islamabad's intelligence community and Kabul's new rulers, the strengthening of the Pakistani component of the Taliban, allied with Islamic State in Khorasan, is not to the liking of Pakistan's ISI spymasters.
Along with Iraq, Afghanistan has been an eldorado for armed security companies over the last 20 years. With the departure of American troops on 30 August, that market suddenly dried up. This does not mean, however, that the country will no longer need armed security companies.
Qatar, home to the political branch of the Taliban since 2011, is proud of its role as mediator and the international visibility that goes with it. Its intelligence errors on the evolution of the situation in Afghanistan seem not to have dented its determination to remain closely involved.
Although keen to keep on the US administration's good side, Saudi Arabia wants to prevent Iran having free rein in Afghanistan and has instructed his spymasters to engage in a prudent dialogue with the Taliban, facilitated by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.
After heated debate, Iran has decided not to oppose its Pashtun neighbours, acknowledging the Taliban's advance over large parts of Afghanistan. The move puts the Shi'ite Hazara, which have been at the front line of the fight against the Taliban, at the centre of the deal.