I have written many times about my disapproval of the Saudi way of doing things….from beheadings to air assault on civilians……but I had read where the new Monarch in waiting MbS is going to make the kingdom move into the 21st century as a goodwill player….to that I say…Bollocks!
Then recently with all the promise to the future a story has come out that Saudi Arabia is the least stable it has been in years…..
The stability of Saudi Arabia is becoming more fragile as the young crown prince’s judgment and competence are increasingly in doubt. Mohammed bin Salman has a track record of impulsive and reckless decisions at home and abroad that calls into question the kingdom’s future.
For the last half century the stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has never been seriously in doubt. After King Faisal removed his incompetent and corrupt brother Saud from the throne in 1964, the line of succession has been clear and uncontested. Under Faisal’s rule the economy grew, especially when his 1973 oil embargo jacked prices up significantly. His assassination did not disrupt the stability nor did the 1979 takeover of the great mosque in Mecca by a handful of fanatics. Early in this century the kingdom faced a determined assault by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda but the efficient security services, led by Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, turned back the threat.
Even the Arab Spring had little tangible impact on the kingdom’s stability. King Abdullah spent over $130 billion in salary increases and other benefits to buy off any dissent. Trouble was possible but the royal family was united behind Abdullah. The Saudis intervened in Bahrain to ensure the Gulf states were quiet; the kingdom’s troops are still on the island.
Reports are growing that Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s hyperactive crown prince, is losing his grip. His economic reform program has stalled since his father, King Salman, nixed plans to privatize 5 percent of Saudi Aramco. The Saudi war in Yemen, which the prince launched in March 2015, is more of a quagmire than ever while the kingdom’s sword rattling with Iran is making the region increasingly jumpy.
Heavy gunfire in Riyadh last April sparked rumors that MBS, as he’s known, had been killed in a palace coup. In May, an exiled Saudi prince urged top members of the royal family to oust him and put an end to his “irrational, erratic, and stupid” rule. Recently, Bruce Riedel, an ex-CIA analyst who heads up the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project, reported that the prince is so afraid for his life that he’s taken to spending nights on his yacht in the Red Sea port of Jeddah.
Even Our Dear Leader sees the writing on the world stage…..
At a rally in Mississippi earlier this week, President Trump bragged about putting his foot down with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and demanding more military spending, following accusations that he and other OPEC nations are “ripping off the rest of the world.”
Trump told the rally “I love the king, King Salman. But I said King – we’re protecting you – you might not be there for two weeks without us – you have to pay for your military.” Trump did not indicate when you said this.
Most scandals surrounding Saudi military spending are not that they’re spending too little, but that they’re buying so much deadly armament and killing so many civilians in neighboring Yemen. This has put US arms sales to the Saudis under growing scrutiny.
I think that the kingdom would be better off if a true democracy movement were to take root….but that will be difficult for the kingdom is under a totalitarian thumb.