Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Making History: China and Russia are Transforming Enemies into Friends, by Federico Pieraccini

This is the third and last of an excellent series on the Chinese-Russian alliance transforming Eurasia. There are links to the previous two articles in the first paragraph. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

In the previous articles, the military and economic means by which the United States initially aimed for global hegemony were addressed, detailing how the US became the (declining) superpower it is today. In both analyses I highlighted how the threat of US military power is no longer credible, and how sanctions and the strong-arming behavior of corporate giants and international bodies (IMF, World Bank, BIS, etc) have ceased their effectiveness. This has made the United States increasingly irrelevant, leaving in the process a vacuum to be filled by emerging powers like China and Russia, which effectively ushers in a new world order based on multipolarity. In this third and final part of the series, I will dive into the specific events that show how the military, economic and diplomatic combination of Iran, Russia and China have forged, by known as well as less-known means, an alternative world order to the unipolar American one.

Russia, China and Iran have in recent years drawn enormous benefit from the declining military and economic power of the United States, further propelled by a general mistrust of Washington’s diplomatic and political abilities, both with Obama and now with Trump. The two previous articles showed that Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, even as they addressed different situations, shared similar interests and came to coordinate their military, economic and diplomatic strategy.

The success of the Euro-Asian triptych is based on the essential principle of transforming enemies into neutral players, neutral players into allies, and further improving relations with allied nations. In order for this project to be realized, economic, military and diplomatic efforts are variously employed, depending on the country and the general regional context. The flexibility shown by Moscow and Beijing in negotiations has delivered historic deals, not only in the energy sector but also in the military sphere and also in education and poverty reduction, as seen in Africa.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria are three countries that, when analysed individually, reveal this precise strategy of Russia, China and Iran. Particular attention is focused on the Middle East for several reasons. It is the region where America’s declining military power, unable to achieve its geopolitical objectives in Syria, meets with the progressive loss of Washington’s economic influence, highlighted by the increasingly precarious position of the petrodollar that is about to be challenged by petroyuan deals between Saudi Arabia and China.

To continue reading: Making History: China and Russia are Transforming Enemies into Friends

 

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The House of Saud bows to the House of Putin, by Pepe Escobar

Saudi Arabia is looking for new friends and it looks like it may have found one in Russia. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's King Salman attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow on October 5, 2017. Photo: Sputnik via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow on October 5, 2017. Photo: Sputnik via Reuters

Saudi Arabia pivots to Russia, the new sheriff in town

What a difference a year – an eternity in geopolitics – makes. No one could see this coming; the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadi terror – which Russia fights no holds barred, from ISIS/Daesh to the Caucasus Emirate – beating a path to the Kremlin and about to embrace Russia as a strategic ally.

The House of Saud was horrified by Russia’s successful campaign to prevent regime change in Syria. Moscow was solidifying its alliance with Tehran. Hawks in the Obama administration were imposing on Saudi Arabia a strategy of keeping oil prices down to hurt the Russian economy.

Now, losing all its battles from Syria to Yemen, losing regional influence to both Iran and Turkey, indebted, vulnerable and paranoid, the House of Saud has also to confront the ghost of a possible coup in Riyadh against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as Asia Times reported. Under so much pressure, who’re you gonna call?

The ultimate ghostbuster; Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Essentially, the House of Saud is obsessed by three main vectors; low oil prices; Iran and Shi’ism; and what to make of US foreign policy under Trump. Let’s take them one by one.

I want my S-400s

As much as a Moscow-Washington reset remains doomed, even with the implosion of Russia-Gate, House of Saud advisers must have known that the Kremlin won’t ditch its strategic relationship with Iran – one of the key nodes of Eurasia integration.

Moscow will keep aligned with Iran across “Syraq”; that’s part of the “4+1” (Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq, plus Hezbollah) alliance in the Levant/Mesopotamia, an incontrovertible (and winning) fact on the ground. And that does not preclude Russia’s increasingly cozy relationships across the Arab world – as with Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Libya.

To continue reading: The House of Saud bows to the House of Putin

Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century? by Cyril Widdershoven

Russia is skillfully playing its cards and amassing influence in the Middle East and Northern Africa. From Cyril Widdershoven at oilprice.com:

Putin

The geopolitical reality in the Middle East is changing dramatically.

The impact of the Arab Spring, the retraction of the U.S. military, and diminishing economic influence on the Arab world—as displayed during the Obama Administration—are facts.

The emergence of a Russian-Iranian-Turkish triangle is the new reality. The Western hegemony in the MENA region has ended, and not in a shy way, but with a long list of military conflicts and destabilization.

The first visit of a Saudi king to Russia shows the growing power of Russia in the Middle East. It also shows that not only Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but also Egypt and Libya, are more likely to consider Moscow as a strategic ally. 

King Salman’s visit to Moscow could herald not only several multibillion business deals, but could be the first real step towards a new regional geopolitical and military alliance between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia. This cooperation will not only have severe consequences for Western interests but also could partly undermine or reshape the position of OPEC at the same time.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is currently hosting a large Saudi delegation, led by King Salman and supported by Saudi minister of energy Khalid Al Falih. Moscow’s open attitude to Saudi Arabia—a lifetime Washington ally and strong opponent of the growing Iran power projections in the Arab world—show that Putin understands the current pivotal changes in the Middle East.

U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and even the UAE, have shown an increased eagerness to develop military and economic relations with Moscow, even if this means dealing with a global power currently supporting their archenemy Iran. Analysts wonder where the current visit of King Salman will really lead to, but all signs are on green for a straightforward Arab-Saudi support for a bigger Russian role in the region, and more in-depth cooperation in oil and gas markets.

To continue reading: Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century?

 

 

Wheels And Deals: Trouble Is Brewing In The House Of Saud, by Pepe Escobar

The first returns on 32-year-old Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman are not promising. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Saudi women being allowed to drive is a smokescreen – Salafi-jihadism is alive and well inside the Kingdom. What’s more, another coup may be along shortly

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on September 20, 2017, shows King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud speaking during a ceremony welcoming the Saudi national football team to the Royal Palace in Jeddah. Photo: AFP / Saudi Royal Palace

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on September 20, 2017, shows King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud speaking during a ceremony welcoming the Saudi national football team to the Royal Palace in Jeddah. Photo: AFP / Saudi Royal Palace

Suddenly, the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadism is being hailed by the West as a model of progress – because Saudi women will finally be allowed to drive. Only next year. Only some women. And still subject to many restrictions.

What’s certain is that the timing of the announcement – which comes after years of liberal American pressure – was calculated with precision, arriving only a few days before House of Saud capo King Salman drops in for a chat at Trump’s White House. The soft power move was coordinated by the 32-year-old Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, the Destroyer of Yemen; the king merely added his signature.

The diversionary tactic masks serious trouble in the court. A Gulf business source with intimate knowledge of the House of Saud, having held a number of personal meetings with members, told Asia Times that “the Fahd, Nayef, and Abdullah families, the descendants of King Abdulaziz al Saud and his wife Hassa bin Ahmed al-Sudairi, are forming an alliance against the ascendancy to the Kingship of the Crown Prince.”

No wonder, considering that the ousted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef – highly regarded in the Beltway, especially Langley – is under house arrest. His massive web of agents at the Interior Ministry has largely been “relieved of their authority”. The new Interior Minister is Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, 34, the eldest son of the governor of the country’s largely Shi’ite Eastern Province, where all the oil is. Curiously, the father is now reporting to his son. MBS is surrounded by inexperienced thirty-something princes, and alienating just about everyone else.

To continue reading: Wheels And Deals: Trouble Is Brewing In The House Of Saud

The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate, by Robert Parry

By all means investigate foreign influence on the US political process. But why stop at Russia? How about Saudi Arabia and Israel, and the whole host of nations that regularly lobby the US government? From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: If the U.S. government and mainstream media are really concerned about foreign influence in American politics, they might look at Israel and other nations with much more clout than Russia, notes Robert Parry.

The core absurdity of the Russia-gate frenzy is its complete lack of proportionality. Indeed, the hysteria is reminiscent of Sen. Joe McCarthy warning that “one communist in the faculty of one university is one communist too many” or Donald Trump’s highlighting a few “bad hombres” raping white American women.

Russians taking part in an Immortal Regiment march on May 9, 2017, honoring relatives who died in the Nazi invasion and the eventual defeat of Germany in World War II.

It’s not that there were no Americans who espoused communist views at universities and elsewhere or that there are no “bad hombre” rapists; it’s that these rare exceptions were used to generate a dangerous overreaction in service of a propagandistic agenda. Historically, we have seen this technique used often when demagogues seize on an isolated event and exploit it emotionally to mislead populations to war.

Today, we have The New York Times and The Washington Post repeatedly publishing front-page articles about allegations that some Russians with “links” to the Kremlin bought $100,000 in Facebook ads to promote some issues deemed hurtful to Hillary Clinton’s campaign although some of the ads ran after the election.

Initially, Facebook could find no evidence of even that small effort but was pressured in May by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia. The Washington Post reported that Warner, who is spearheading the Russia-gate investigation in the Senate Intelligence Committee, flew to Silicon Valley and urged Facebook executives to take another look at possible ad buys.

Facebook responded to this congressional pressure by scouring its billions of monthly users and announced that it had located 470 suspect accounts associated with ads totaling $100,000 – out of Facebook’s $27 billion in annual revenue.

Here is how the Times described those findings: “Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign.” (It sometimes appears that every Russian — all 144 million of them — is somehow “linked” to the Kremlin.)

To continue reading: The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate

The Saudi Project Has Failed, by Rannie Amiri

The Saudi dream of remaking the Middle East in its own despotic Sunni image has failed to take wing. From Rannie Amiri at antiwar.com:

Books will be written on the designs of the Saudi regime to reshape the greater Middle East. Entire chapters could be dedicated to the depth of United States and Israeli involvement and their shared partnership with the House of Saud and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states to do so. The titles may even stipulate it as a Saudi-U.S.-Israeli Project for emphasis. That said, the role played by Saudi Arabia within this alliance is not insignificant.

The undertaking has directly touched nearly a half-dozen Arab countries, unified largely by their common effort to resist the import of radical, extremist groups unleashed in retribution for not abiding by the diktats of the Gulf dynasties. Others opposed monarchical rule, their royal proxies or a Saudi-directed foreign policy and attempts to impose a uniform media narrative.

The scope of such a discussion is certainly worthy of a comprehensive and detailed analysis but only a summation is given here. Consider it the last page of the last section of the last chapter.

The Saudi Project has failed. Utterly.

Iraq

With the fall of Saddam Hussein, alarm bells sounded in Riyadh and other GCC capitals. He was an unpredictable ally yet one perceived to be adept at stemming ostensible Iranian and hence (according to the sectarian mindset), Shia influence from reaching the Arabian Peninsula. Many Gulf states have sizable Shia Arab populations, marginalized politically and socioeconomically particularly in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Suddenly, a popularly-elected government assumed power on their doorstep. Imperfect as it was, the Iraqi government reflected the demographics of the war-torn, Shia-majority country. The creation and rise of the Islamic State (IS) was part and parcel of their plan to make sure it would not succeed and indeed, implode. Islamic State funding came primarily from Saudi Arabia. Its Wahabi textbooks were published in the Kingdom. As the former imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca said, IS leaders, “draw their ideas from what is written in our own books, our own principles.” With the liberation of Mosul and the eviction of IS from other Iraqi cities, it was clear there would be no “caliphate” or return of an authoritarian, presumably Sunni, strongman to Baghdad. Banking on Iraqi exasperation with corruption, poor security and endless terrorist attacks, the people did not take the bait and turn on the government.

To continue reading: The Saudi Project Has Failed

“Unprecedented” Saudi Crackdown Targets Regime Loyalists As King Prepares To Abdicate, by Tyler Durden

The Saudi government engages in repressive tactics the US routinely criticizes in other regimes. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Are we seeing early signs of an “Arab Spring” coming to Saudi Arabia, or will the next king emerge stronger than ever? The kingdom is now in the midst of an unprecedented crackdown of both dissidents and even loyalists perceived as less than enthusiastic about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s consolidation of power as he prepares to ascend the throne of his aging and increasingly senile father. It was only last June that King Salman shocked the world by suddenly and unexpectedly removing next in line for the crown Muhammad bin Nayef, which made Mohammed bin Salman heir apparent to the throne.

In a rare front page story airing sharp criticism of the kingdom, The Wall Street Journal assessed the scope of the crackdown today:

In the past week, Saudi authorities have detained more than 30 people, roughly half of them clerics, according to activists and people close to those who have been detained. The campaign goes beyond many of the government’s past clampdowns, both in the scope of those targeted and the intense monitoring of social media posts by prominent figures. It is not known if any charges have been filed.

WSJ further mentions that several senior princes have been essentially under house arrest as they are barred from traveling abroad, which even includes a brother of King Salman. The kingdom has been tight lipped amidst the crackdown, refusing to engage with the media since as the story began breaking early this week.


Current Defense Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Image source: Alayham News

King Salman himself has at times appeared barely able to function or speak coherently in public or government addresses, and aides have had to closely assist when he does make such rare appearances. Prince Mohammed has become the de facto ruler on a day-to-day level.

To continue reading: “Unprecedented” Saudi Crackdown Targets Regime Loyalists As King Prepares To Abdicate