Archive

Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

Saudi Prince Mohammad Says He Plans ‘Full-Scale War’ With Iran

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Incoming Saudi leader Prince Mohammad bin Salman has vowed to launch a ‘full-scale war’ with Iran once he becomes King.

Prince Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both agree that Iran is the biggest threat to the Middle East, and the Saudi leader intends to do something about it.

Debka.com reports: The London Daily Mail, quoting “a source close to the Saudi royal family” reported that King Salman, 91, intends to give up the throne next week and name his son, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, 32 as his successor. The king will reportedly confine himself to ceremonial duties like “the queen of England,” retaining only the title of “Custodian of the Holy Shrines.”

Near two weeks ago, Prince Muhammad ordered 500 notables, including princes, former ministers and business leaders detained on charges of corruption. The British newspaper carried the first photos of the distinguished detainees sleeping on mattresses on the floor of the five-star Carlton Ritz Riyadh.

After he is crowned king, the prince will focus on Iran, according the Daily Mail. His plan is “to start the fire in Lebanon, in the hope of Israeli military backing.” He is convinced he has to hit Iran and Hizballah – contrary to the advice of the royal family – and will enlist the help of the Israeli military to crush Hizballah, for which he has promised Israel billions of dollars if they agree.”

The source stressed: MBS can’t confront Hizballah in Lebanon without Israel. The Daily Mail did not reveal how Israel sees this proposition – only that the prince has a Plan B:  to fight Hizballah in Syria. Neither did its source explain how this would come about amid a crumbling Syrian insurgency.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources note that rumors of King Salman’s imminent abdication and handover to his son Muhammad have been around for some time and are credible, given the monarch’s failing health. Many of the hundreds of high-profile figures he placed under detention on Nov. 4 are opposed to his accession.

That the Crown Prince will focus on Iran is also credible – except that more than a year ago, he declared that Saudi Arabia was at war with the Islamic Republic in Yemen and it is not going very well. The Saudis and their allies, the UAE, are stuck in a standoff with the Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels. Iran moreover threatens their ports and capital cities with missile strikes. However, when the Houthis fired a ballistic missile supplied by Iran at Riyadh international Airport on Nov. 4, Prince Muhammad called it an act of war.

He is turning to Israel and its armed forces, not just as the only reliable military and intelligence force capable of handling the opening shots of the war on Iran, but out of their shared perception of Iran as the biggest threat to the Middle East. He moreover no longer expects active and determined participation in fighting Iran from the US under President Donald Trump. On this last point, Saudi Arabia and Israel are divided.

In an interview with the London-based, Saudi-owned news site Elaph – his first with a Saudi publication – that was published on the same day as the Daily Mail story, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Gady Eisenkot laid out what he thinks are Iran’s ambitions in the Middle East: “The Iranian plan is to control the Middle East by means of two Shiite crescents. The first from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and the second from Bahrain through to Yemen until the Red Sea,” he said, adding: “This is what must be prevented in the region.”

“With [US] President Donald Trump, there is an opportunity for a new international coalition in the region,” he said, citing the US, Arab nations including Saudi Arabia and Israel “for stopping the Iranian threat.” “We are ready to exchange experiences with moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence to confront Iran,” he added. While the Israeli general stressed the importance of the Trump administration’s role in this effort, the Daily Mail’s Saudi source did not mention the United States at all.

So while the prince who may be crowned Saudi king next week and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agree that Iran is the biggest threat to the region and beyond, they are at odds on how to cut it down and who should lead the effort. Prince Muhammad’s thinking on this resembles the Israel’s approach to the Iranian threat five years ago, that if the IDF decided to go it alone, the Americans will jump in later. But today, Eisenkott reflected a different approach. He stressed in the interview that Israel “isn’t interested in a war now with the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hizballah, despite Iranian attempts to bring about an escalation.”

Riyadh may take this as Israel’s reply to prince Muhammad’s plan: Several billion dollars will not persuade Israel to send the IDF to fight a war except in its direct national interest, even though Israel and Saudi leaders and military chiefs are in complete accord on the Iranian peril.

Trump Brokers Alliance Between Israel And Saudi Arabia For ‘Middle East Peace’

November 18, 2017 Leave a comment

President Trump has brokered a deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel that will see the two countries form diplomatic relations for the first time in history.

According to a Lebanese newspaper, a secret Saudi foreign ministry document details how Trump worked tirelessly with leaders from the two countries to try and make significant steps towards peace in the Middle East.

Alaraby.co.uk reports: Al-Akhbar’s report, which is signed from London, alleges the document was sent by Saudi FM Adel al-Jubeir to the powerful crown prince and de-facto king Mohammed bin Salman, who reports claimed in September had secretly visited Israel. The kingdom later denied the visit had taken place.

The document details concessions to Israel that are certain to prove controversial in Palestine and the Arab world if true, including Saudi encouragement of the Palestinians to cede the right of return of their refugees, in return for a peace deal with Israel and closer cooperation with Tel Aviv against Iran and Hizballah.

“I have the honour to submit to you a project for establishing relations between the kingdom and the State of Israel based on the strategic partnership agreement with the United States of America, discussed with the US Secretary of State based on the guidance of your noble guidance,” opens the letter.

“Saudi Arabia…. has immense influence and diplomatic power that can give credibility to peace efforts,” the alleged letter continues.

“The kingdom had pledged in the strategic partnership agreement with US President Donald Trump that only a US-Saudi effort (for peace) is the key to success as… no solution to the Palestinian issue can be legitimate without the support of Saudi Arabia.

“Rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel carries risks… given the spiritual, historical, and religious status of the Palestinian issue. The kingdom cannot risk this move unless it feels the US is honest about its efforts against Iran, which destabilises the region.”

The peace plan: Divide Jerusalem and resettle refugees

The letter continues: “Accordingly, the kingdom proposes a peace plan based on the following:

One: Any detente between the kingdom and Israel requires equivalence between the two countries: At the military level, Israel is considered the only country with nuclear weapons in the Middle East…. accordingly, the kingdom must acquire this deterrent or seek to remove Israel’s.

Two: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shall use its diplomatic abilities and political relations with the Palestinian Authority, the Arab states, and the Islamic nations to facilitate reasonable and creative solutions on contentious issues in the Arab Peace Initiative… with the US adopting creative solutions to the two main issues of Jerusalem and the refugees, as follows:

– Placing Jerusalem under international sovereignty by adopting the 1937 Peel Project and the UN partition plan of 1947 on Jerusalem.

– Saudi Arabia seeks to resettle Palestinian refugees where they are present, where the kingdom can play a positive role… by supporting creative and bold proposals, such as abolishing Arab League recommendations… not to naturalise Palestinians in any Arab country.

The Trump summit

Third: The kingdom has proposed to President Trump… reaching an agreement on the principles of a final solution, followed by a meeting of the region’s foreign ministers convened by the United States… after that, Trump calls on the region’s leaders to endorse these principles and negotiations for the final solution begin.

Fourth: Saudi Arabia can play an effective role in rallying support from others for a new age of peace and prosperity between Israel and the Arab and Islamic world.

In the early stages of normalising ties with Israel, this will not be acceptable by the public opinion in the Arab world. However, Saud Arabia believes the compatibility of Israeli technology with the economic power of the Gulf countries, the size of their markets, and Arab human potentials could unleash the latent potentials of the Middle East and achieve prosperity, stability, and peace.

The Iranian nexus

Fifth: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the longest in the region. Extremists have used it to justify its actions, and it has distracted the actors in the region from focusing on the main threat to the region, namely, Iran.

Resolving this conflict will pave the way for security, commercial, and financial cooperation against Iran. Therefore, the Saudi and Israeli sides have the following (goals) in common:

– Confronting any activities that serve the aggressive policies of Iran in the Middle East.

– Increasing US and international sanctions over Iran’s ballistic missile programme

– Increasing sanctions over Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism around the world.

– Lobbying the 5+1 group over their position on the nuclear deal with Iran to ensure its strict implementation

– Limiting Iranian access to frozen assets, and capitalising on Iran’s economic problems to increase pressure on the regime

– Intelligence cooperation against organised crime and drug trafficking supported by Iran and Hizballah

Saudi Arabia and Iran Battle for Power in the Middle East

November 11, 2017 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia’s order for its citizens to evacuate Lebanon is the latest ominous signal in an escalating confrontation between the Middle East’s chief regional rivals, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The two nations have long fought proxy wars against each other, but many fear that the newly empowered Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is looking to assert Saudi Arabia’s regional dominance at any cost. The conflict heated up last year when Saudi Arabia executed a Shiite cleric and then severed diplomatic ties with Iran.

Now the Saudis are publicly airing their disapproval with Iran’s chief foreign affiliate, Hezbollah, which has significant representation in Lebanon’s parliament and has asserted its influence in neighboring Syria.

Image: Portraits of Musa al-Sadr, Ali Khamenei and Hasan Nasrallah
Portraits of Iranian-born Lebanese cleric Musa al-Sadr, top left, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, top right, and Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah hang outside a mosque in the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Sir on Nov. 5, 2017. Mahmoud Zayyat / AFP – Getty Images

Experts, however, don’t think a regional conflagration is imminent. “The Saudis have always thought the wrong solution for their problem with Iran and now their hope is the Trump administration will come in and tilt the balance in their favor,” said Ali Vaez, the Iran project director at Crisis Group. “It’s unlikely to change Iran’s regional policy — Iran will continue to support its allies and proxies in the region — but it’s unlikely to result in a major conflict.”

Even if the conflict doesn’t boil over, there is plenty at stake for the U.S. and the world in the battle between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. There’s the price of oil, which rises during crises — an ironic benefit to the belligerents, who have some of the world’s largest oil reserves — and there’s the regional balance of power.

Who’s in Charge Here?

The Trump administration has already chosen sides. It’s backing the Saudi program of change, and doing what it can to undermine the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. Trump dubbed the Iranian government a “fanatical regime” and warned of a “sinister vision for the future.” His rhetoric was music to the ears of Arab officials, in Riyadh and around the Gulf, who had viewed the Obama administration as complacent toward their longtime foe and neighbor to the East.

Massive government shakeup rocks Saudi Arabia2:21

Many of Washington and Riyadh’s issues with Iran are really guilt-by-association. Lebanon’s Hezbollah, increasingly a leading political force in the country, receives financial and logistical support from Iran and also supports militant Shiite groups in Yemen and Iraq.

The U.S. wants to contain Hezbollah’s militant faction, which it and its Arab League partners have dubbed a terrorist organization. Once lauded in the Arab world as a heroic resistance movement that stood up to Israel, Hezbollah has seen its popularity plummet among Sunni Muslims because of its staunch support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But efforts to root out Hezbollah have been complicated by its formal role in the Lebanese government and effective control over the country’s south. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri abruptly resigned last weekend while in Riyadh, saying that his life was in danger. He said Hezbollah has created a “state within a state” in Lebanon and was holding the country hostage, and that Iran was meddling in Arab affairs.

Image: Saudi King Salman, right, meets with outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh
Saudi King Salman, right, meets with outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Hariri’s resignation in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia on Saturday stunned Lebanon and plunged the tiny nation into uncertainty. In his resignation, Hariri accused Shiite power Iran of meddling in Arab affairs and the Iran-backed Lebanese militant Hezbollah group of holding Lebanon hostage. Saudi Press Agency / via AP

Tensions reached a new level this week when both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain ordered their citizens to leave Lebanon.

The U.S. also shares the Saudi regime’s goals for the Arabian peninsula. It wants to defeat the Sunni terror groups in Yemen –al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group’s most potent affiliate, and an emerging ISIS presence. Both the U.S. and the Saudis want to contain the country’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels who have growing influence in the country.

The Saudis began striking the Houthis in 2014. However, unlike the U.S., which uses precision technology for its strikes against al-Qaeda, the Saudi campaign has been anything but discrete, devastating the country and plunging it into a deep humanitarian disaster. Its war against the Houthis has made the Saudis even more unpopular inside Yemen than they already were — and cost the Saudi treasury a fortune.

Image: Reaction of Saad Hariri's resignation as Lebanese Prime Minister
People watch Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s speech following Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation, on a screen at a cafe in Beirut on Nov. 5, 2017 Wael Hamzeh / EPA

The U.S. is not the only would-be power broker consulting with the new Saudi leadership team. French President Emmanuel Macron arrived Thursday in Riyadh for meetings amid the rising regional tensions. And the Saudis have hedged their bets, meeting with Russia’s energy minister in Riyadh this week and with Vladimir Putin in Moscow last month.

Still, the synergy between the Trump administration and the reconfigured Saudi leadership has observers worried whether it will fan the flames. “The U.S.-Saudi convergence of policies very concerning,” said Rami Khoury, a professor of Middle East politics at the American University in Beirut. “They’ve been brought together by four or five policy aims: protect Israel, beat back the terrorists, push back Iran and Hezbollah, keep the oil flowing, and promote business deals all under the umbrella of autocratic Arab leaders.”

The Mainstream Media Is Talking About A Coming Middle East War That Could Involve Saudi Arabia, Iran, The U.S. And Israel

November 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Michael Snyder

People better start waking up and paying attention to what is happening in the Middle East, because the situation is becoming quite serious.  If things go badly, we could be facing a major regional war which would involve not only Saudi Arabia and Iran, but also potentially the United States and Israel. Yesterday, I quoted an article in the New York Times that warned that tensions between the Saudis and the Iranians were raising “the threat of a direct military clash between the two regional heavyweights”. And now Jake Novak of CNBC is saying that a “direct conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as opposed to the proxy war they’re fighting in Yemen, looks inevitable.”

I put those last two words in bold so that there wouldn’t be any confusion. In fact, Novak is warning that the Saudis “are marching ever closer towards a wider regional war”. Novak understands the dynamics of the Middle East, and he realizes where things could be headed if cooler heads do not prevail.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have already been fighting proxy wars against one another in Syria and Iran for quite a while, but a direct military conflict between the two could literally be a nightmare scenario.

One of the primary characters in this ongoing drama is Saudi Arabia’s extremely hawkish crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. He hates Iran with a passion, and he has already said that he believes that a peace dialogue with Iran is impossible.

And over the past several days, events in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have moved talk of war to the front burner

First, the kingdom squarely blamed Iran for a missile attack on Riyadh from Yemen that was thwarted by the U.S.-made Patriot anti-missile system. The Saudis called that attack “direct military aggression by the Iranian regime and may be considered an act of war.”

Second, the Saudis accused Lebanon of — figuratively at least — declaring “war” against it because of aggression from Hezbollah. That statement spurred even Saudi ally and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to publicly urge for calm.

In an article yesterday, I discussed the “purge” that is currently taking place in Saudi Arabia. Many believe that this purge is all about removing any potential obstacles to a war with Iran. Mohammed bin Salman and his father have made dealing with Iran their number one strategic priority, and they have even enlisted the Israelis as allies in their cause…

As is already well-known, the Saudi and Israeli common cause against perceived Iranian influence and expansion in places like Syria, Lebanon and Iraq of late has led the historic bitter enemies down a pragmatic path of unspoken cooperation as both seem to have placed the break up of the so-called “Shia crescent” as their primary policy goal in the region. For Israel, Hezbollah has long been its greatest foe, which Israeli leaders see as an extension of Iran’s territorial presence right up against the Jewish state’s northern border.

If Saudi Arabia and Iran go to war, it is probably inevitable that Hezbollah will strike Israel at the same time, thus getting the Israelis directly involved in the conflict.

Not only that, if a major regional war does erupt in the Middle East it would almost certainly mean that the U.S. would have to get involved as well. Here is more from Jake Novak of CNBC

But if full blown war breaks out directly between the two countries, it’s hard to see the U.S. being able to sit it out without at least some form increased weapons support and other aid. Then it will be up to Iran’s possible allies, like Russia and China to make the next move.

If you are thinking that this sounds like the type of scenario that could cause World War III to erupt, you would be correct.

The Iranians and the Saudis both have weapons of mass destruction, and so a direct conflict between the two would seem to be unthinkable.

But rational thinking does not always prevail in the Middle East. The conflict between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam has a long and bitter history, and the bad blood between the Saudis and the Iranians is never going to subside until one side or the other ultimately prevails.

Let us hope that a “hot war” between Saudi Arabia and Iran does not erupt any time soon, because such a war would not be good for the United States whatsoever. Pretty much every scenario that you can imagine ends with enormous numbers of innocent people dead, and such a conflict could ultimately be the spark that sets off World War III.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Saudi Government Purge Occurring, But Real Reason Unveiled As $800 BILLION Revealed

November 10, 2017 Leave a comment

 

The government of Saudi Arabia can be confusing for many outside of the country. It is a complex series of very wealthy families, and it seems there is almost always a certain level of a power struggle between the wealthy. It is a land of kings and royalty, not one where you need to be voted into office. This seems to work well for many of the rich in the area, but is also opens those in power up to ongoing threats of a takeover.

Oil as a national product has brought billions of dollars of profits into the country. The creation of affluent families has turned the desert of Saudi Arabia into the scene for many fantasies and more than a few Hollywood movies. What those stories do not share is what happens when oil prices start to fall, and the cash flow slows down?

That is precisely what is happening right now, with the flow of wealth slowing down in the once wealthy nation. When times are right, it seems that money is no object. As oil prices drop and oil holdings no longer automatically mean power in the region, the ruling party goes into a panic. They are suddenly faced with the reality that the families within their country may have more in cash reserves that the entire nation.

To balance the national reserve with the overall cash flow in the country, it seems government officials got a bit creative in the form of a significant economic purge. Starting on Sunday, Mohammad bin Salman authorized an all-out attack against the pocketbooks of many of the wealthiest families in the country.

Mohammad bin Salman held out some of the elite in Saudi Arabia as being a threat to the government and named them as being a political enemy. This meant the ruling party was able to nab over $33 billion in “at risk” funds. Essentially this meant that the ruler took everything he could from anyone who might think about taking over the country. They also took billions more in assets for a total of closer to $800 billion total in question.

These at-risk funds taken from the most powerful families in the area were only the start. The next day, the government froze at least 1,200 bank accounts. These accounts again being tied to a great deal of wealth in the country, and they were singled out as being threats to the security of Saudi Arabia.

Whether they singled out an entire wealthy family or just started picking off individual accounts, it seems cash reserves was the primary focus. It is a quick way to curb a certain level of power to directly take away their access to cash, but it also can be turned into a boost to the overall value of the nation.

It seems as the accounts were taken by the government, there might be a movement made to not only freeze them but confiscate the funds. According to a recent report about this process:

“So when could the confiscatory process end…the ruling Saudi royal family has realized that not only can it crush any potential dissent by arresting dozens of potential coup-plotters, it can also replenish the country’s foreign reserves, which in the past 3 years have declined by over $250 billion, by confiscating some or all of their generous wealth, which is in the tens if not hundreds of billions. If MbS continues going down the list, he just may recoup a substantial enough amount to what it makes a difference on the sovereign account.”

Are these allegations of corruption and movement against the government just a scheme by the King of Saudi Arabia to increase his standing within the country? While this claim may seem a bit outlandish, it is not all that far-fetched as we consider the fact that any funds took via a complaint of corruption against the state government become the property of the government. This can become much more of a mere freezing of accounts if they are successful in taking all of the funds in question.

To understand the actual value of this type of power move, keep in mind that it is estimated that the most wealthy families in Saudi Arabia hold cash and other assets that combined to be more than twice the total country national reserve.

Hitting the elite of Saudia Arabia in their bank accounts not only solves the issue of them trying to overtake the current ruling family but also creates a huge windfall as far as cash flow for the country. Time will tell as far as showing if this plan works or if it creates more of a power struggle between the current ruler and the rich.

What You’re Not Being Told About the Royal Crisis in Saudi Arabia

November 9, 2017 Leave a comment

(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed)  According to the Washington Post’s Fareed Zakaria, in order to understand how traditionally secular Muslim countries became hubs of radicalization in recent years, you need just one example: Saudi Arabia. Zakaria explains:

We’re revolutionizing the news industry, but we need your help! Click here to get started.

“In Southeast Asia, almost all observers whom I have spoken with believe that there is another crucial cause [behind the ‘cancer’ of Islamic extremism] – exported money and ideology from the Middle East, chiefly Saudi Arabia. A Singaporean official told me, ‘Travel around Asia and you will see so many new mosques and madrassas built in the last 30 years that have had funding from the Gulf. They are modern, clean, air-conditioned, well-equipped – and Wahhabi [Saudi Arabia’s puritanical version of Islam].’ Recently, it was reported that Saudi Arabia plans to contribute almost $1 billion to build 560 mosques in Bangladesh. The Saudi government has denied this, but sources in Bangladesh tell me there’s some truth to the report.”

As The Week explained two years ago, Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars “investing heavily in building mosques, madrasas, schools, and Sunni cultural centers across the Muslim world. Indian intelligence says that in India alone, from 2011 to 2013, some 25,000 Saudi clerics arrived bearing more than $250 million to build mosques and universities and hold seminars.”

The Week made it quite clear that these “institutions and clerics preach the specifically Saudi version of Sunni Islam, the extreme fundamentalist strain known as Wahhabism or Salafism.”

This isn’t just some unfriendly version of Islam that may or may not be linked to terror attacks aimed at Western countries – this is the same standard of Islam ISIS and al-Qaeda adhere to. Remember this next time a Donald Trump supporter accuses you of being an “apologist for Islam” while their leader sells these puritanical extremists more arms than they can afford to buy in the first place.

Not to mention that since early 2015, Saudi Arabia has been locked in a brutal quagmire in neighboring Yemen, engaging in war crimes and using banned munitions.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s documented behavior, everything that moves right now in the Middle East is somehow purported to be due to Iran’s “malignant” activities. A missile that was launched into Saudi Arabia’s capital city, which may or may not have been intercepted, was immediately and baselessly blamed on Iran. Saudi Arabia has been called the event an act of war (initiated by Iran). The meltdown of Lebanon’s internal politics has also been blamed on Iran, yet Saudi Arabia is clearly the one trying to pull the strings to create internal strife in the country.

In actuality, the available evidence that has come to light in recent weeks is that it was Saudi Arabia that actively coordinated an act of aggression on the sovereign nation of Syria in 2013. It has also come to light that a leaked cable, written in Hebrew, allegedly shows Saudi-Israeli collusion to provoke a war with Lebanon. It should be noted that the mainstream media and the governments that run in tandem with the media have paid close to zero attention to this, despite how damning the conclusion is.

So what can one make of what is happening directly inside Saudi Arabia even as we speak? One can only describe the recent developments as a crackdown that makes Bashar al-Assad’s pale in comparison given very senior and royal Saudi figures have already been killed and arrested in just over a weekend of action. The media has advanced that this is merely a crackdown by a reformist leader in the hopes of putting Saudi Arabia on a path to modernity and creating some domestic social and economic reforms. No one will be willing to admit it, but the House of Saud is in trouble.

Don’t listen to the Guardian as it tries to James Bond-up Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince with ludicrous titles such as “Saudi arrests show crown prince is a risk-taker with a zeal for reform.”

According to Bruce Riedel, director of the intelligence project at the Brookings Institution, Saudi Arabia is more or less looking at an economic recession. The country can barely afford the arms deals it agreed to with both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and its expenditures on the illegal war in Yemen are starting to take their toll. Perhaps this is the real reason the crackdown targeted three of the Kingdom’s richest profiles, which will result in the confiscation of $33 billion for the Saudi Kingdom to use at its leisure. The country is facing economic hardship, as the Washington Post explains:

“The International Monetary Fund said in July that the kingdom would run a deficit of about 9.3 percent of gross domestic product this year. Unemployment was running around 12.3 percent. It said that non-oil growth was projected to pick up to 1.7 percent but that relatively weak oil prices would keep overall GDP growth ‘close to zero.’”

Saudi Arabia’s chickens are coming home to roost. The extremist nation should know this more than anyone considering they have tried their hand at overthrowing multiple governments in the region. Once a crackdown as blatant as this one begins, there will be no turning back for the Islamic Kingdom.

While some may celebrate the fall of Saudi Arabia, the downside is that desperate times will undoubtedly call for desperate measures in the face of the Kingdom’s dying status as a regional player. The only viable option to maintain the illusion of domestic strength and international prowess is to find a scapegoat, and the Saudis have had the perfect scapegoat for years. Even as we speak, the war rhetoric targeting the Iranian government and its allies is beating ever louder as it becomes clear that the oil-rich nation may have no other way of distracting from its own inner turmoil than to launch further aggression against Iran.

It is already somewhat evident that Donald Trump has given his full support for this to happen — and that Trump’s sword-dancing meeting with Saudi Arabia earlier this year set the scene for something far more sinister than we could have ever predicted.

As the Washington Post explained:

“Mohammed Bin Salman’s domestic power grabs have often been accompanied by major foreign policy moves. Many regional observers therefore fear that Hariri’s resignation, announced in Riyadh with a sharply anti-Iranian speech, could trigger a political crisis intended to end with a military campaign against Hezbollah. Such a move would fit the pattern of bold foreign policy initiatives launched in the expectation of a rapid, politically popular victory. It would also very likely follow the pattern of such initiatives rapidly collapsing into a bloody, destabilizing quagmire.”

Op-ed / Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war, deepening crisis

November 8, 2017 Leave a comment

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia accused Lebanon on Monday of declaring war against it because of aggression by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah, a dramatic escalation of a crisis threatening to destabilize the tiny Arab country.

Lebanon has been thrust to the center of regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran since the Saudi-allied Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Saturday, blaming Iran and Hezbollah in his resignation speech.

Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said the Lebanese government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia” because of what he described as aggression by Hezbollah.

Faulting the Hariri-led administration for failing to take action against Hezbollah during a year in office, Sabhan said “there are those who will stop (Hezbollah) and make it return to the caves of South Lebanon”, the heartland of the Shi‘ite community.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, he added: “Lebanese must all know these risks and work to fix matters before they reach the point of no return.”

He did not spell out what action Saudi Arabia might take against Lebanon, a country with a weak and heavily indebted state that is still rebuilding from its 1975-90 civil war and where one-in-four people is a Syrian refugee.

There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah is both a military and a political organization that is represented in the Lebanese parliament and in the Hariri-led coalition government formed last year.

Its powerful guerrilla army is widely seen as stronger than the Lebanese army, and has played a major role in the war in neighboring Syria, another theater of Saudi-Iranian rivalry where Hezbollah has fought in support of the government.

Lebanese authorities said on Monday the country’s financial institutions could cope with Hariri’s resignation and the stability of the Lebanese pound was not at risk.

But the cash price of Lebanon’s U.S. dollar-denominated bonds fell, with longer-dated maturities suffering hefty losses as investors took a dim view of the medium- to longer-term outlook for Lebanon.

HARIRI FREE TO TRAVEL, SAUDI FM SAYS

Hariri cited a plot to assassinate him during his unexpected resignation speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia which caught even his aides off guard. He also slammed Hezbollah and Iran, accusing them of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said he will not comment on Hariri’s speech, calling it a “Saudi statement” and saying Riyadh had forced Hariri to resign.

The sudden nature of Hariri’s resignation generated speculation in Lebanon that his family’s Saudi construction business had been caught up in an anti-corruption purge and he had been coerced into resigning.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said it was “nonsense” to suggest Hariri had been coerced into quitting in a CNN interview on Monday. Hariri had quit because Hezbollah had been “calling the shots” in the government, he said. Hariri, a Saudi citizen, was free to leave the country at any time, he said.

Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, a senior member of Hariri’s political party, said he was under the impression Hariri would return to Beirut within days.

A meeting between Saudi King Salman and Hariri in Riyadh on Monday proved “rumors” wrong, he said – an apparent reference to speculation that Hariri was detained or forced to quit.

Earlier on Monday, President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, appealed for national unity.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, another political ally of Hezbollah, said in a televised statement after meeting Aoun it was too early to talk about forming a new government.

The crisis could re-aggravate tensions between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims and afflict Lebanese government with paralysis once again. All of the sides have called for calm and there has been no sign of unrest since Hariri’s resignation.

The Hariri-led government took office last year in a political deal that made Aoun president. The deal ended years of deadlock, and last month it produced Lebanon’s first budget since 2005.

Hariri flew to Saudi Arabia on Friday after meeting in Beirut the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, who described the coalition as “a victory” and “great success” afterwards.

%d bloggers like this: