By M. Tahir Khan.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under new King Salman has successfully arranged and concluded the military exercise launched on 14th February, 2016 with the participation of troops from 21 nations. The military exercise was named as North Thunder that took place in King Khalid Military City in northeastern Saudi Arabia.
Joint military exercise involved military might of 21 nations with estimated 2500 war planes, 20,000 tanks and 350,000 troops for 25 days, exercise raised many eye brows in the world, however two important questions raised here that includes;
What Saudi Arabia achieved from this military exercise at international forum?
What message given in the region and to the rest of the world??
The year 2015 remained very critical for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The year started with Saudi Arabia’s un ending war in Yemen which is costing over one billion US dollar a month. Additionally, last year’s Iran + P5 deal and later on in the start of this year removal of US sanctions from Iran completely changed the dynamics of the region. United States and European nations lifted restrictions and roughly $100 billion of assets released which reflects that Iran’s capacity and influence will be enhanced in the region and now Iran is open for world powers for investments.
Furthermore, Russia’s intervention into Syria’s war also strengthen Iran and Russia’s long time Ally Bashar ul Assad and weakened the Saudi stance to remove Bashar ul Assad from power. This left Saudi Kingdom to re think their policies and position in the region, Saudi Arabia started to regroup itself within Middle East and Muslim countries.
This thinking was realized, Saudi Arabia started to re think over their policies and on the same grounds last year in December Deputy Crown Prince announced a coalition of 34 Muslim countries to fight against extremism and shown vigilance in tackling terror related issues. In the same context Saudi Arabia launched military exercise of 21 Muslim countries to show their military might.
What Saudi Arabia achieved from military exercise?
First, Saudi Arabia has shown all of its opponents that Kingdom is still a key player in the region and by bringing twenty one Muslim nations under one umbrella it is a clear message to the world that Saudi Arabia still commands major powers in the Muslim countries including military powers like Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well.
Secondly, a message sent to all the opponents of the Kingdom including Iran that any possible hostile intentions and actions will be firmly dealt. However, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al Assiri, spokesman for Saudi led military stated that military exercise is not meant to send a message to Iran, but if Iran understood something else, it is not his country’s problem.
North Thunder concluded successfully and Saudi Arabia tested its capacity to handle a large military exercise, re affirmed its position in the region by bringing twenty nations under its command, finally goals achieved.