Tag Archives: MBS

Princely Celebration! Donald Trump’s Endorsement of the Luring, Torture, Murder, and Dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Arab absolute kings/princes/potentates in the Persian Gulf region (some of them) and their controlled media and a few controlled academic type are celebrating Donald Trump’s endorsement of the: luring, arrest, torture, murder, chopping up, and dissolving in acid of Jamal Khashoggi.. and mainly they are celebrating Donald Trump’s support, after the fact, of what they did.

Literally playing Kool & The Gang’s Celebration loud……  in the palaces of Riyadh, Manama, Abu Dhabi, and as few other cities….

Flash back to a few weeks ago: “An official Saudi mouthpiece threatening the United States of America. A first, only under Donald Trump, whose focus is the money only.  The absolute princes and potentates have read him, and Jared Kushner, correctly: dangle the money in his face, and you have the upper hand

Or a few weeks before that: “Donald Trump screamed during the 2016 presidential campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it……. Enter the current Saudi strongman Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the failed conqueror of Yemen. A new chapter of the history of the Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, and Persian Gulf is being written now. The Khashoggi Mystery, L’Affaire Khashoggi….”

The princes first threatened America, then bribed Donald Trump with promises of money. Simply put, but the truth…

As one member of the US Congress tweeted earlier today: 
  “Hey : being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First.”……
She was right, of course. First threats, then bribery worked with this president….

Now, with the help of Trump, the door is open for other dissidents and exiles to be lured into foreign embassies, onto airplanes, in neutral airport transit lounges. For them to disappear…

Thanks to Trump’s (and Pompeo’s) craven behavior, many more people are not safe now, even in foreign exile….

Cheers

Mohammed haider Ghuloum

With Friends Like These: America Loses Respect as the Princes Threaten Trump, New Khashoggi Spin……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“They present catastrophic scenarios that would hit the US economy much harder than Saudi Arabia’s economic climate…… It would lead to Saudi Arabia’s failure to commit to producing 7.5 million barrels. If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure. An oil barrel may be priced in a different currency, Chinese yuan…….. And perhaps trusted exchange of information between Riyadh and America and Western countries will be a thing of the past after it had contributed to the protection of millions of Westerners, as testified by senior Western officials themselves. Imposing any type of sanctions on Saudi Arabia by the West will cause the kingdom to resort to other options, US President Donald Trump had said a few days ago, and that Russia and China are ready to fulfill Riyadh’s military needs among others. No one can deny that repercussions of these sanctions will include a Russian military base in Tabuk, northwest of Saudi Arabia………”

An official Saudi mouthpiece threatening the United States of America. A first, only under Donald Trump, whose focus is the money only.  The absolute princes and potentates have read him, and Jared Kushner, correctly: dangle the money in his face, and you have the upper hand.

Selective rumors and facts about Khashoggi, post-Afghanistan:
During the 1980s, Khashoggi was on Ronald Reagan’s side, and both were allied to Bin Laden and the Islamist Mujahideen (later Taliban) against the Soviets and the leftist secular Afghan government. This explains a lot of noise this week by right-wing American media about Khashoggi and his ties with Islamist Jihadis. Most of it distorted selective information, although he had at some point a soft spot for some Islamist political movements. Yet he remained a faithful follower of the aggressive Saudi royal policy until the past year. In the 1980s the whole Western world was allied to the Islamist Jihadis in Afghanistan.

Sunday Breaking:
Trump: I talked to King Salman, knows nothing about Khashoggi.
– could’ve been a rogue group, not Saudi gov’t.
– sending Pompeo to Saudi, he can always find an Iran connection.
– Bibi can help with his UN charts.
– I’m not a baby, I’m not a baby.

Monday Morning Khashoggi Spin:
Trump has sent Secretary Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia “to investigate” the Khashoggi murder. While Pompeo was in flight, Trump told the media that maybe a rogue group of killers did it. 

Top Saudi opposition exile @mujtahidd (whose reports are often reliable) writes what many already suspect including me: Trump sent Pompeo to Riyadh not to investigate. He sent him to finesse the new emerging story about a rogue group that led to the Khashoggi death. That new spin is very likely Fake News agreed by the Trump Administration (Pompeo & Bolton) and the Saudis. One downside of lying publicly too often is that it makes it almost impossible for others to believe you).

Under Trump & MAGA, America is now so respected that even the Saudi minions are threatening it publicly. They expect Trump to publicly support them on the Khashoggi affair: just like their bribed aid recipients in humorless Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, the town of Ramallah, etc.
He is inclined to do it!

About America being respected: under Obama or Bush or any previous president, the princes would never dare publicly threaten the USA (directly or through their media). Now, thanks to the greed of Trump, they know they can get away with it…. and they will…
They are threatening Trump, assuming he will blink. And he will, given the money dangling in front of him…..

Did they tell me that Saddam Hussein was dead?

Did I tell you “long live the new Saddam”?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghu
loum

The Questionable Wisdom of Friedman: From Beirut to MBS, and Beyond Saddam………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“I never thought I’d live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style. Unlike the other Arab Springs — all of which emerged bottom up and failed miserably, except in Tunisia — this one is led from the top down by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman……. only a fool would not root for it.To better understand it I flew to Riyadh to interview the crown prince, known as “M.B.S.,”………..”

The prominent gullible American fool said: “only a fool would not root for it”

 

“‘Our Hands Can Reach You’: Khashoggi Case Shakes Saudi Dissidents Abroad…… A Saudi women’s rights activist was driving in the United Arab Emirates when she was pulled over by security officers, thrown on a plane to Saudi Arabia and jailed…….. In Canada, when a Saudi student refused to stop making YouTube videos criticizing the kingdom’s rulers, two of his brothers back home were imprisoned…….. So when a prominent Saudi critic, Jamal Khashoggi, disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week, it hardly surprised Saudi dissidents living abroad — until Turkish officials said they believed he had been killed……”

Well, I know the same fool who has been rooting for various Middle East despots and movements, always to be proven wrong at the end. His problem is that he always listens to ‘insiders’, be they in Cairo or Riyadh or Abu Dhabi. That is, when he is not gleaning wisdom from his Arab airport taxi drivers (invariably named Abed, Abduh, Abbadi, Abdul, Abu Lama’a etc…..)

As I have often opined: the West often seems blind to one fact about the Middle East region, Saddam Hussein is always with us. One Saddam is dead, now long live the new Saddam……fully supported and armed by the West, just as the old one .

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

War Planner Bolton Misses a Red Wedding, Bin Salman’s World Conquest, Khamenei the Conqueror…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

This looks deceptively like a slow news weekend, outside of Germany and the Gaza killings. But this can be deceptive; there are other bits of news in the Middle East: 

Wars in Syria and Yemen grind on…..

Saudi Crown Prince MBS, officially called New Hunk in Town by female anchor women of his own media, is on the tail-end of his Tour of World Conquest. He wants to accomplish it before the old Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei takes over the world. The prince has been told by expensive lobbyists in Washington that the Hitler analogy is always popular, hence this silly breathless headline in the Atlantic. The Prince has already secured the allegiance of Britain and the USA (including media icons like Norah O’Donnell and the Empress Oprah). He also already owns much of the eastern half of the Arab world outside Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Qatar.

The eldest sons of Donald Trump (Eric and Donald Jr), attended the wedding of some Real Estate tycoon in the United Arab Emirates. The wedding of some son of a DAMAC Properties Dubai oligarch.

John Bolton (not related to the Red Wedding characters) declined the Dubai wedding because, they say, he’s busy planning a couple of new Muslim wars in the Middle East.
Young Barron declined that he had better things to do (he does)……
But the weekend is just starting….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Prince Bin Salman Coming to America: of Christian Evangelicals, Muslim Salafists, and the Anti-Christ…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

I came across a tweet from a frustrated and befuddled man. I wish I could remember his name. He wrote that for years Christian Evangelicals had warned him that the Anti-Christ was coming, that he should be ready for that dark day. He then added that: now that (he thought) the Anti-Christ has arrived (at least in the USA), he is shocked that they have joined him, that they voted for the same Anti-Christ they had warned him about and they continue to strongly support him.
(I wondered what he was talking about, clearly a Democrat).

Which reminds me of the Salafists (or Wahhabis), our Muslim equivalents of these Christian Evangelicals he was talking about. They also face a dilemma now. The Sunni Salafist clerics, and others, in the Persian-American Gulf region are mostly educated in Saudi theological colleges, where they have absorbed the teachings of Shaikh Mohammed Bin Abdul-Wahhab, the founder of Sunni Wahhabism, the official faith of Saudi Arabia. He, of course, based his doctrine on earlier extreme fundamentalists.

Over the years those Gulf Salafists became strong advocates and supporters of the Saudi theological school as well as strong advocates for the policies of the Saudi government, good and bad. That was a natural result of the Saudi establishment being an alliance between the ruling Al Saud dynasty and the strict Wahhabi clerics led by the Al Shaikh family who descend from Bin Abdul-Wahhab. The higher echelons of the Saudi establishment are full of Al Al Shaikh men, the current top religious Mufti is among them. A few times in my earlier posts I have often opined here that Gulf Salafists were essentially a Saudi fifth column in their native countries. Most of them anyway, although I know there are a few exceptions.

Saudi Salafist leaders in exile, almost all of them in the West, are furious about this new social and educational reform movement by MBS. They say it is a plot to end Wahhabism as they know it. It is, after all, threatening to deprive them of their only theological anchor: the Wahhabi clerical establishment in Saudi Arabia. The secular opposition, those not in prison in Riyadh or in Western exile are mostly silent for now, regrouping.

Now the Salafists of the Gulf states are facing a dilemma. The new Saudi strongman, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is trying to move away from strict Wahhabism. He is trying to tap the dormant discontent and excruciating boredom among the huge population of young educated Saudis, male and female, as well as to impress Western policy-makers to his side. He is also doing it out of economic necessity, given this country’s heavy dependence on foreign labor and foreign talent. Given the depleting nature of fossil fuel resources. This position is unusual for a Saudi prince who was not educated in the West, especially in the USA.

Gulf Salafists have for years been cheerleaders, money collectors, as well as volunteers for Al Qaeda and later ISIS (Islamic State), although they have toned it down in recent years because of political pressure by regional governments as well as American efforts. Some of them have even tried to follow the official line and pretend to abandon ISIS, by irrationally claiming that it was a creation of the Iranian mullahs (or was it the Emir of Qatar, as some of their minions seem to claim, although before last year, before-Trump and his Kushner baggage, many of them were claiming that Israel helped create ISIS).

In recent months, as I follow Salafists, and some Gulf Muslim Brotherhood members, on media and social media, I notice the effect of their dilemma. Some of their most outspoken commentators and rabble rousers are silent for now. Uncharacteristically silent. As if shocked by this turn of events in Riyadh, as if they are waiting to see where it leads to. Here they were pushing their own countries, like Kuwait and others, to impose restrictions on social life and on education, along the sectarian model of  Saudi Arabia. Yet now Prince MbS seems to have pulled the rug from under their feet.

I wish him well in his attempts to open up Saudi Arabia and diversify it. I don’t wish him well in his attempts to pull America into his plans for a sectarian war in the Persian Gulf region. He does not need my wishes for his genocidal war on Yemen: it is clearly a hopeless quagmire, a failed war, just as I wrote here about three years ago.

It is now in Donald Trump’s hands: will he be foolish enough to rush into taking sides in a disastrous new sectarian war in our region? Will he take the tempting money, the bait being offered by this Saudi prince (and others in the Gulf) and start a war of choice with Iran? A war that will be a folly, just as this Saudi prince’s war on Yemen has turned out to be……. 

Other relevant posts to enjoy:
Norah O’Donnell Interviews Prince MBS, Sans Pom Poms…..

From Brexit to the Gulf: Saudi Arabia Set to Annex Great Britain ?………

A GENUINE ARAB SPRING LED BY THE REVOLUTIONARY PRINCE OF SAINT VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE

ARABIAN PR AS HISTORY: FRIEDMAN HAS EPIPHANY, JOINS THE REWRITING OF HISTORY OF JIHADISM…..

MIDDLE EAST WARS: ASYMMETRIC MILITARY SPENDING, ASYMMETRIC MILITARY COMPETENCE……

THE SECOND FRUSTRATION OF PRINCE BIN SALMAN: A FIASCO IN QATAR……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Norah O’Donnell Interviews Prince MBS, Sans Pom Poms…..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Norah O’Donnell of 60 Minutes was a lot like one of the journalists from Saudi Al Arabiya Network (or one from an offshore Lebanese network) while interviewing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MbS). I expected Norah to end the interview by standing up and clapping heartily, as a Lebanese interviewer for one Arab network did a couple of months ago. But no real colorful pom poms for CBS.

I can’t wait for the upcoming interview with Vladimir Putin. At least Putin, with all his reported meddling, will not be pushing (almost certainly paying) for the United States to wage another war of choice in the Persian Gulf or elsewhere. They say part of the prince’s mission is to talk Donald Trump into a new blockade and likely into the mother of all quagmires: an unprovoked war of aggression against Iran.

(Anyone remember  Saddam Hussein of Iraq in the 1980s and how progressive & popular we were told he was? He was popular enough to be armed to the teeth by the West, including WMD technology. He invaded Iran, and when that failed he invaded Kuwait. He used chemical weapons extensively against the Kurds and the Iranians, and nobody objected. Very progressive)

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

From Brexit to the Gulf: Saudi Arabia Set to Annex Great Britain ?………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“LONDON: Britain and Saudi Arabia set out an ambition to build 65 billion pounds ($90.29 billion) of trade and investment ties in coming years, the prime minister’s office said on Wednesday, calling the agreement a vote of confidence in the British economy ahead of Brexit. “This is a significant boost for UK prosperity and a clear demonstration of the strong international confidence in our economy as we prepare to leave the European Union.”……. Saudi FM Adel Aljubeir: We have launched a strategic partnership with #UK covering all areas…” Arab News (Saudi)

Decryption: Saudi Arabia is getting ready to annex post-Brexit post-European Great Britain, at least convert it into a new satrapy like Bahrain, but more elevated. I think that is premature…..

Reading major British newspaper and media sites, it looks that way. Thay have acquired a flavor, or a sycophantic odor, similar to the Saudi media.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Genuine Arab Spring Led by the Revolutionary Prince of Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre …….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

In America, the Middle East wars and rivalries are being waged along the Eastern Seaboard, from Washington to New York and on to Boston. Arab and other Mideast lobbyists, hired public relations firms, media opinionators, and paid think tanks are in full gear. The Saudis (and the UAE) get the lion’s share of it. And we see the results not only in Washington and New York power centers, but also in the media and social media.

Finally a new real Arab Spring is blooming in Saudi Arabia (according to the shoot-from-the-lips Tom Friedman of the N Y Times); the USA must throw its full support behind an invisible “Revolutionary Saudi Prince“, according to old hand Dennis Ross. More American accolades of this kind are being piled on the newish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Bin Salman (affectionately and otherwise known as MBS) has certainly shaken the Saudi power structure. But he has achieved the following since his father acceded to power early in 2015:

  • Lost any hope of pushing back the expanding Iranian influence and of enabling his favorite Jihadis in Syria. He lost the Syrian war to Assad, Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies.
  • He screwed up the tense and balanced situation in Lebanon. The man whom Hezbollah (the Iranian mullah’s staunch ally) wanted became the Christian president of Lebanon. In exchange, a Saudi ally and business partner, Saad Hariri, was recalled from Paris to become prime minister. He reached an accommodation with the other Lebanese factions, including the largest party: Hezbollah. Prince MBS was upset and summoned him to Riyadh the day after he met a high Iranian official in Beirut. Riyadh, where Saad Hariri vanished into some sort of weird captivity (he is also a naturalized Saudi and French citizen).
  • Where is Hariri, asked Waldo (and most Lebanese)? Finally he surfaced in front of a Saudi television camera inside a Saudi TV station. He looked numb, confused, nervous as he read an odd declaration of (forced) resignation that could have only been written by the Saudis, with the usual atrocious Arabic grammar and terms. Even Donald Trump’s speechwriter can probably do better, in Arabic.
    It took an uproar in Lebanon, in France , and even in Washington and a visit by French president Macron for the Saudis to release the prime minister of Lebanon and let him fly to Paris and then to Lebanon. Quite a ride.
  • Well before that, prince MBS had started on his worst and longest foreign adventure (no, not the honeymoon nor the half-billion-dollar yacht nor the half-billion-dollar Da Vinci’a Salvator Mundi painting). As soon as he was appointed Defense Minister by his daddy in 2015, he started a fierce but predictably futile war on Yemen. That genocidal war has been waged for three years now, with active American and some British help, under both Obama and Trump. It is at a stalemate: the ragtag Houthi tribals ruling in Sanaa against the best Western weapons that money can buy, and it is a stalemate. Sort of like Afghanistan, but at a more disastrous cost to human life and infrastructure. A true genocidal war.
  • Next came Donald Trump’s poisonous saber-rattling Summit in Riyadh last may, followed by attempts to force a Saudi hegemony on other GCC countries. It started with an attempt to turn Qatar into a Bahrain-like Saudi satrapy. That attempt, a total boycott and blockade of Qatar, backfired spectacularly after Qatar managed to mobilize other countries to help, including Iran, Turkey, and some Western countries.

The Prince’s latest snafu was at home (but overtime it may turn out to be a smart power play). Overnight, many princes and other wealthy Saudi oligarchs were rounded up and locked up at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel. The same hotel that hosted the Trump clan last May. Normal political activists and other unfortunates are usually thrown in more infamous prisons. But these captives, all high-ranked rival royals and other oligarchs, are used to a different lifestyle. Hence the Ritz-Carlton. No sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei” over the door for them. Most of them were reportedly conditionally released into internal exile, after they acceded to the shake-up and parted with some of their ill-gotten wealth. They may also have signed some allegiance to the new ruler of the country.
If it lasts, MBS will be the first truly absolute ruler of the kingdom: all the others ruled by some degree of consensus within the inner circle of senior ruling family princes.

On the other hand he is being smart by moving towards some (non-political) freedoms for women. A smart and long-overdue move. Some early crumbs are being thrown to Western sensibilities: a promise to allow women to start driving cars sometime next summer. Maybe. Also opening sports stadiums to women: another good and needed move, no doubt. That should also make (seemingly) powerful women like Ivanka, Maureen, Mika, and maybe even Hillary happy and gushing in their praise. He seems to have gotten most of the major Wahhabi clerics to go along, at least those he had not preemptively jailed beforehand.

A revolution in the true royal fashion indeed…….

Cheers and Happy Saint Valentine’s Day, Al Capone……  

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Political Prisons: What the Bastille, Tzarist Siberia, Stalin’s Gulag, Tehran’s Evin, and Saudi Ritz-Carlton Have in Common…..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

The French monarchy had the (now) notorious Bastille.
The Russian tzars had the vast Siberian land mass.
The Soviets had the infamous Lybyanka prison. (Stalin was familiar with cold exile from his days plotting against the tzars, thus he preferred to exile opponents and suspects to faraway cold places).
The Iranians (under both the Shah and the now-ruling mullahs) had/have the Evin prison in Tehran for their troublesome political dissidents.
Even Alexandre Dumas and Edmond Dantès had Château d’If, like Elba conveniently located close to France, from which one could only escape inside a coffin.

Now the Saudis have gone more 7-star in their prisons for the rich and famous corrupt rivals of crown prince MBS. Don’t get me wrong, they still have dungeons (no dragons) and cellars for ordinary dissidents and opponents. But this new purge of the young and reckless Crown Prince includes too many of the elite, who are used to luxury living. Some of these princes, potentates, and oligarchs now under detention would not survive in an ordinary prison. They would not even survive in a 3-star or maybe even 4-star hotel. Hence, as widely reported, the Ritz-Carlton of Riyadh. That super-luxury hotel is now a sort of prison.

That very same hotel that Donald Trump and his family and entourage occupied during the wild hootennany in the desert last May, when he was almost anointed the Sixth Pillar of Islam. That was when Mr. Trump, the foreign interloper from far away, handed the keys of the Persian Gulf and the Arab World to the Saudi princes, or so he naively and foolishly thought.
The Ritz-Carlton was (and still is) also in some ways, a prison for Donald Trump. The luxury, the accolades, the over-the-top praises, and mainly the huge sums of money offered, locked him into the dangerous and futile agenda of the princes.


Which brings me to the mysterious fate of Lebanon‘s prime minister Saad Hariri. Can he also be incarcerated at the Ritz-Carlton now? Mr. Hariri, normally Saudi Arabia’s proxy man in Lebanon, has his own residence in Riyadh. But even his supporters in Lebanon now concede that he is not free to travel from Saudi Arabia, that he is not allowed to com home to Beirut. Not yet. In effect: a prisoner of his former allies and bosses. That he can’t speak for himself after his Saudi hosts forced him to resign and deliver a speech they wrote for him. Even the U.S. State Department has hinted that maybe he is being held involuntarily in the Kingdom Without Magic.

I know: Saddam Hussein is dead. But, just in case, long live the new Saddam Hussein, whoever he is or will be…….

More later……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Saudi Arabian Perestroika but No Glasnost: Ditching Wahhabism, the Aramco Dilemma…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“Saudi Arabia unveiled a $500bn plan on Tuesday to create a vast economic zone in the kingdom’s north-west, the most ambitious and expensive project in Riyadh’s efforts to diversify the oil-dependent economy. Details of the new city, called Neom, were released as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosted some of the world’s most powerful investors and bankers at a conference designed to showcase his vision to modernise the conservative kingdom and lure investment to the country…….”

Interesting and unprecedented things may be about to happen in Saudi Arabia, if the ruling crown prince keeps all his promises. Possibly positive things. It will have reverberations across the Arab world.

Saudi Crown Prince MBS seems to be impressed by the example of the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai. It will be a tough sell in the Wahhabi heartland of Najd in Central Arabia. To diversify the economy also means to diversify the society, and open it not only economically, but also culturally. That is the most closed of Middle East societies.

So far there are signs that the top Wahhabi establishment is falling in line, but that may change: the prince had to incarcerate several mid-level but prominent Wahhabi clerics before he started talking of his version of Perestroika (perhaps not so much Glasnost for now).

A few independent Arab media outlets have been hinting for months that the new Saudi order is impressed with the economic experience of the UAE. At the same time, the substantial Islamist (mainly Wahhabi) opposition in exile has been warning and complaining that the ruling Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in the UAE (an economically and culturally open Gulf state, definitely non-Wahhabi) has too much influence over the Saudi Crown Prince. There might be some truth in that, and it will create a dilemma for the Salafist movement from the Gulf to Egypt. Persian Gulf Salafis, who are practically Saudi proxies, have always been very critical of the openness of the UAE and its social and religious openness.


The domestic impact depends on success in keeping the population content, economically speaking. But times are hard, with oil revenues declining, and the weapons-selling pressures of Donald Trump are strong. Add to that the expensive and stalemated war in Yemen, and the new financial commitments to select remaining “friends” in Syria and Iraq.
So it may require disengagement in Yemen and reducing commitments in the Levant, as well as reducing the huge weapons deals with the Western powers. But then there is a catch in all that too: it might mean ceding the Northern Tier of the Arab world, the Levant/Fertile Crescent, to long-term Iranian influence. The Saudis already seem to have given up on Lebanon, where a Hezbollah-Christian coalition seems to have strengthened its hold on power.

Stopping the bleeding from Yemen will be a tough one: that country is the soft underbelly of the Arabian Peninsula, and a reasonable cause for worry. But war will not solve the Yemen problem, only some kind of political deal that is agreed upon by the Sanaa coalition and the Saudis. That still leaves the problem of Aden in secessionist-oriented Southern Arabia, now largely dominated by the UAE. And I haven’t even mentioned the expansion of AQAP and ISIS in Southern Yemen.

It would be quite interesting to see how the Wahhabi kingdom is transformed into a truly modern state (without the political opportunities of Glasnost).

(P.S: As for selling off the huge state oil company, ARAMCO, we can forget about that for now. My educated fatwa about ARAMCO? It will take much longer than two or three years or even five years to get it ready for privatization. IF it ever happens: I have seen similar films before in our Gulf region.)

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum