Tag Archives: Mohammad bin Salman

Make Saudi Arabia Great Again! by Reese Erlich

Mohammad bin Salman’s “reforms” and his crackdown on corruption are nothing more than window dressing, behind which Salman pursues his own corrupt ends. From Reese Erlich at antiwar.com:

I stood in front of a mosque in the city of Qatif, Saudi Arabia, interviewing people for a story. Suddenly, two city police cars pulled up. Several minutes later plain clothes officers from the secret police began questioning me.

I had entered the country with a journalist visa, but committed the grave crime of practicing journalism without official permission. All interviews, even with ordinary people, had to be cleared in advance.

I was told not to leave my hotel and exited the country soon thereafter. I was, however, able to report on the brutal repression of Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia, who had been demonstrating against the government since the beginning of the Arab Spring.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is of the most repressive regimes in the world, and of course, a close US ally. The Kingdom is back in the news because it’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS for short), has arrested more than 200 of his royal cousins and businessmen on corruption charges.

Lebanon has suffered from the Syrian civil war next door. Here a house in Hermel, Lebanon, was destroyed by rockets fired by Saudi backed rebel groups. Photo by Reese Erlich.

In a truly Saudi twist, those multi millionaires are jailed at a Ritz Carlton in Riyadh seized by the government for the occasion. Some faced the indignity of sleeping on mats in the lobby.

Some media and the Trump administration portray MBS as a reformer cracking down on corruption and the reactionary religious establishment. The Cairo Review, for example, wrote, “The crown prince has moved quickly to confirm his liberal progressive credentials…. [H]e sought to float 5 percent of the Saudi Aramco shares (dubbed the biggest IPO in history), allowed women to drive, tolerated the reopening of cinemas, has plans for a tourism industry, and reigned in the powers of the religious police.”

To continue reading: Make Saudi Arabia Great Again!

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Trump’s Saudi Scheme Unravels, by Alastair Crooke

Trump and his son-in-law are putting a lot of chips on a weak bet. From Alastair Crooke from consortiumnews.com:

President Trump and his son-in-law bet that the young Saudi crown prince could execute a plan to reshape the Mideast, but the scheme quickly unraveled revealing a dangerous amateur hour, writes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

Aaron Miller and Richard Sokolsky, writing in Foreign Policy, suggest “that Mohammed bin Salman’s most notable success abroad may well be the wooing and capture of President Donald Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.” Indeed, it is possible that this “success” may prove to be MbS’ only success.

President Trump shakes the hand of Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman on May 20, 2017. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

“It didn’t take much convincing”, Miller and Sokolski wrote: “Above all, the new bromance reflected a timely coincidence of strategic imperatives.”

Trump, as ever, was eager to distance himself from President Obama and all his works; the Saudis, meanwhile, were determined to exploit Trump’s visceral antipathy for Iran – in order to reverse the string of recent defeats suffered by the kingdom.

So compelling seemed the prize (that MbS seemed to promise) of killing three birds with one stone (striking at Iran; “normalizing” Israel in the Arab world, and a Palestinian accord), that the U.S. President restricted the details to family channels alone. He thus was delivering a deliberate slight to the U.S. foreign policy and defense establishments by leaving official channels in the dark, and guessing. Trump bet heavily on MbS, and on Jared Kushner as his intermediary. But MbS’ grand plan fell apart at its first hurdle: the attempt to instigate a provocation against Hezbollah in Lebanon, to which the latter would overreact and give Israel and the “Sunni Alliance” the expected pretext to act forcefully against Hezbollah and Iran.

Stage One simply sank into soap opera with the bizarre hijacking of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri by MbS, which served only to unite the Lebanese, rather than dividing them into warring factions, as was hoped.

To continue reading: Trump’s Saudi Scheme Unravels

 

Millions Face Starvation in Yemen Due to Saudi Arabia’s Blockade, by Michael Krieger

Saudi Arabia is strangling Yemen and the US is helping. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Two years ago, German intelligence warned the world of the unique risks Saudi Arabia posed to the region. I covered it at the time in the post, German Intelligence Warns – Saudi Arabia to Play “Destabilizing Role” in the Middle East. Here’s an excerpt:

Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming a major destabilizing influence in the Arab world, German intelligence has warned. 

Internal power struggles and the desire to emerge as the leading Arab power threaten to make the key Western ally a source of instability, according to the BND intelligence service. 

“The current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy,” a BND memo widely distributed to the German press reads. 

Saudi Arabia has previously been accused of supplying arms and funding to jihadist groups fighting in Syria, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

At the core of this intelligence warning was none other than crown prince Mohamed bin Salman, or MBS. I’ve been warning about the specific dangers presented by his brazen and sociopathic personality for years, and the recent purge finally threw it all into the spotlight for everyone to see.

MBS has already wreaked havoc on portions of the region with his reckless and failed polices with respect to both Yemen and Qatar. Today’s post will focus on the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Yemen, courtesy of the Saudi crown prince.

To continue reading: Millions Face Starvation in Yemen Due to Saudi Arabia’s Blockade

What Now? by James Howard Kunstler

The Middle East is falling apart, and there’s not much hope that it will be put back together again anytime soon. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

It must be exciting to wake up on a gilded bed somewhere in Riyadh and realize that you are Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, mover and shaker of Middle East order. Actually, exciting just to have woken up at all. Perhaps Prince MBS checks to make sure that there aren’t seventy-two virgins in the room before he rises to prayers, state business, and the prospect of World War Three.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has been a giant gasoline bomb waiting to explode for decades. It occupies one of the geographically least hospitable corners of the earth. Its existence as a modern (cough cough) state relies strictly on the reserves of oil discovered as recently as the late 1930s, that is, within the lifetime of people still reading this blog. The oil supply is in steep decline, and so, of course, is the stability of the kingdom.

Politically, it’s a super-medieval operation, an absolute monarchy tied to a severe religious order with the law floating precariously between the two, and old-fashioned customs such as the public beheading of criminals (for misdeeds such as “adultery,” “atheism,” and “sorcery”). The Saud clan has controlled the throne all these years, and its grip on power is slipping as the country itself slips into the prospective next era of its history, minus the endless gusher of oil that has made its existence possible — hence, a true existential crisis without the usual pseudo-intellectual bullshit.

How are they going to support the thirty or forty million people who will still be there when the oil exports dribble down? Most of the work done in the country is performed by foreign “guests.” The indigenous folk don’t even remember how to milk a camel, let alone run routine maintenance on a desalinization plant. (And what are you going to run the de-sal plant on when the oil runs down?) These are questions that must drive thoughtful Saudi royalty mad.

To continue reading: What Now?

If The Saudi Arabia Situation Doesn’t Worry You, You’re Not Paying Attention, by Chris Martenson

What’s going on in Saudi Arabia may signal a huge global realignment. From Chris Martenson at peakprosperity.com:

While turbulent during the best of times, gigantic waves of change are now sweeping across the Middle East. The magnitude is such that the impact on the global price of oil, as well as world markets, is likely to be enormous.

A dramatic geo-political realignment by Saudi Arabia is in full swing this month. It’s upending many decades of established strategic relationships among the world’s superpowers and, in particular, is throwing the Middle East into turmoil.

So much is currently in flux, especially in Saudi Arabia, that nearly anything can happen next. Which is precisely why this volatile situation should command our focused attention at this time.

The main elements currently in play are these:

  • A sudden and intense purging of powerful Saudi insiders (arrests, deaths, & asset seizures)
  • Huge changes in domestic policy and strategy
  • A shift away from the US in all respects (politically, financially and militarily)
  • Deepening ties to China
  • A surprising turn towards Russia (economically and militarily)
  • Increasing cooperation and alignment with Israel (the enemy of my enemy is my friend?)

Taken together, this is tectonic change happening at blazing speed.

That it’s receiving too little attention in the US press given the implications, is a tip off as to just how big a deal this is — as we’re all familiar by now with how the greater the actual relevance and importance of a development, the less press coverage it receives. This is not a direct conspiracy; it’s just what happens when your press becomes an organ of the state and other powerful interests. Like a dog trained with daily rewards and punishments, after a while the press needs no further instruction on the house rules.

It does emphasize, however, that to be accurately informed about what’s going on, we have to do our own homework. Here’s a short primer to help get you started.

To continue reading: If The Saudi Arabia Situation Doesn’t Worry You, You’re Not Paying Attention

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia Are About to Make More Disastrous and Idiotic Mistakes – Part 2, by Michael Krieger

The potential for disaster in the Middle East is high. The take is dramatically different from the previous article by Tom Luongo. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

In Part 1 of this series, I detailed the recent aggressive power plays initiated by 30-something Saudi princeling Mohamed bin Salman (MBS), who is effectively the absolute leader of Saudi Arabia at this time. I also highlighted how 30-something U.S. princeling Jared Kushner, son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump, may have been involved in MBS’s scheming during an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia a little over a week before the purge hammer dropped. Today’s post will focus on what I think this means for the future of the Middle East, as well as U.S. imperial ambitions.

Before I get started, I want to make something clear. I don’t think I’m Nostradamus or anything. These posts are based on the assumption that certain realities remain in place in the months and years ahead. The first is that Mohamed bin Salman’s attempt to consolidate power will prove successful, at least long enough for him to make more extremely stupid mistakes. The second assumption is that Donald Trump will continue to foolishly give this princeling a blank check when it comes to whatever insane aggressions he pursues within the region.

It’s perfectly clear that MBS views recent setbacks in Syria, where Saudi ISIS forces were routed by Russia and Assad, as unacceptable. As such, he’s looking for another place to fight a proxy war with Iran. Never mind the fact that his war in Yemen has been a total failure and humanitarian disaster, MBS doesn’t appear to be someone who lets one failure get in way of future failures. He appears to have chosen Lebanon as the place for his next chaotic adventure.

In that regard, I found a post published at Moon of Alabama extremely informative. Here’s an excerpt from that piece:

Four days ago we asked: Is The “Moderate Al-Qaeda” Set To Target Hizbullah?. The implied answer in that piece was “Yes, the war is coming to Lebanon.”

Today the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri resigned with a statement issues from Saudi Arabia on the Saudi Arabian TV station Al Arabia (video). This is the opening shot of the war.

To continue reading: The U.S. and Saudi Arabia Are About to Make More Disastrous and Idiotic Mistakes – Part 2

 

The End of “The End of History” – U.S. Mid-East Policy’s Fork in the Road, by Tom Luongo

Here’s a unique, but not altogether implausible interpretation of recent developments in the Middle East. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

In 1989 Francis Fukayama declared that we had reached “The End of History.”  Democracy as a form of government would, in fact, be the end of the evolution of human interaction.  The West had triumphed and that the rest was ‘just a chase scene,’ to borrow a phrase from Neal Stephenson’s brilliant dystopian novel “Snow Crash.”

But, this past week’s events in the Middle East tell me that autocracy has replaced democracy and the trans-national parliamentary system of the European Union that Fukayama championed in his 2007 article in The Guardian.

The EU no longer practices representative Democracy today.  Diktats come down from unelected technocrats in Brussels. They are wholly-owned by stateless rent-seeking oligarchs (i.e. George Soros). Everyone in and around the EU is expected to obey or face tanks in the streets (Spain) or endless legal entanglements from captured international courts (Poland).

If you circumvent the rules, the EU will change them to suit its masters’ needs.  Just look at any proposed Russian pipeline into Europe over the past five years.

In the U.S. we have been subjected to the worst form of operant conditioning by an unelected Deep State and its quisling media for a year. They created the mass delusion that President Donald Trump is a secret Russian agent.

The goal was to overturn a democratic election, which itself the people had to overcome systemic voter fraud to win.

When, in fact, everyone who is involved in creating this mass delusion are covering up their collusion with Russia in ways that are espionage and treason.

So, consider me unimpressed with Fukayama’s assessment of history.  History is one of the praxeological disciplines.  Economics is another.  Any historical analysis bereft of economic imperatives is worthless.

And Fukayama’s end of history argument is the height of worthless history because it doesn’t ask the basic question “Cui Bono?”  Who benefits?

The End of Saudi Arabia as We Know it

Saudi Arabia has simply replaced one group of autocrats with another, Crown Prince (and soon to be King) Mohammed bin Salman.  There is not one democratic impulse in his body.  But he is the tip of the spear that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are wielding to remake the landscape in the Middle East.

To continue reading: The End of “The End of History” – U.S. Mid-East Policy’s Fork in the Road