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The Cult of Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi responds [1] to the news of the latest crackdown on activists [2]:

Religious fanaticism that had tarnished Saudi Arabia’s image for decades has given way to a new and perhaps more pernicious fanaticism, a cult of blind loyalty to our leader.

Mohammed bin Salman’s Western cheerleaders have unfortunately helped to promote that cult because of their misplaced confidence in the crown prince’s judgment. The crown prince has done very little to earn the praise he has received from his fans in the West, and most of what he has done has been reckless and destructive. MbS’ approach to domestic “reform” has proven to be very similar to his handling of foreign affairs: the crown prince overreaches, sets unrealistic goals, acts impulsively, makes lots of enemies, and he manages to antagonize and attack even those that are ostensibly on his “side.”

I suspect for many of his admirers consider his record to be irrelevant as long as he persists in his hostility to Iran, but it is possible that some his fans will start to lose confidence if he keeps behaving this way. The latest crackdown should serve as a wake-up call for all of them that MbS is not the ruler they thought made him out to be. The same recklessness that has led Saudi Arabia into waging disastrous and atrocious war on Yemen mars everything the crown prince does, and it is more likely than not going to lead to greater instability and upheaval in the years to come.

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9 Comments To "The Cult of Mohammed bin Salman"

#1 Comment By b. On May 22, 2018 @ 10:45 am

MbS steals money, he buys weapons. What’s not to like? The Shah of Saudi Arabia, in his campaign to become the Last King of The House of Saud.

#2 Comment By john On May 22, 2018 @ 11:13 am

Well incompetent foreign leaders, make our incompetent domestic leaders look if not good at least OK

#3 Comment By Uncle Billy On May 22, 2018 @ 11:49 am

Crown Prince Salman is playing American politicians like a violin. He hints that he is some sort of progressive, but he is nothing of the kind.

#4 Comment By David Walkabout On May 22, 2018 @ 12:58 pm

I knew we were doomed when I saw a slick, glossy magazine promoting all the goodness of BMS at the local grocery store stand. These guys can buy the best press money can buy — Shameful.

#5 Comment By Tiktaalik On May 22, 2018 @ 3:45 pm

‘It’s the economy, stupid’

#6 Comment By Nil Caucus On May 23, 2018 @ 4:52 am

“I suspect for many of his admirers consider his record to be irrelevant as long as he persists in his hostility to Iran”

No. It’s his friendship with Israel.

Face it. MbS could hate Iran with white hot intensity and give every woman in Saudi Arabia a Maserati, but if he also hated Israel he’d be condemned in the West by those who now sing his praises.

#7 Comment By Mark Thomason On May 23, 2018 @ 7:50 am

I doubt he can survive. He has outraged every internal base of support his family always relied upon.

He’s temporary, and useful to those who want to help Israel against Iran. That’s all. He’ll be gone before it matters for more than that.

#8 Comment By Sid Finster On May 23, 2018 @ 11:49 am

@Nil Caucus: I suspect that it is both, although hating Iran is important as a loyalty test because Israel demands it, just as hating Iraq was a loyalty test fifteen years ago.

#9 Comment By up for one more On May 23, 2018 @ 2:04 pm

@Mark Thomason — “He’s temporary, and useful to those who want to help Israel against Iran. That’s all. He’ll be gone before it matters for more than that.”

Odd you should say that. Some think that he may already be gone:

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