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The Saudi Purges

The Saudi government arrested [1] dozens of high-ranking figures including princes and current and former ministers in a massive purge under the direction of the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS):

Saudi Arabia announced the arrest on Saturday night of the prominent billionaire investor Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers.

These arrests are being presented [2] as part of an “anti-corruption” campaign, but they are also unmistakably part of MBS’ ongoing consolidation of power before he ascends to the throne. They follow the crackdown [3] on internal dissidents two months ago. All of this suggests that the crown prince does not feel all that secure in his position, and has been resorting to heavy-handed tactics to ensure that his succession proceeds without incident. Framing the arrests as an “anti-corruption” measure also helps to sell the crown prince as the “reformer” that his Western boosters want to pretend that he is.

The intensifying authoritarianism on display from the next Saudi king is cause for serious concern. The U.S. is now very closely and publicly aligned with him, and his repressive measures receive tacit support from Washington at the very least. That would be bad enough even if MBS were capable of delivering anything of value for the U.S., but instead he has proven to be completely inept in running the kingdom’s foreign policy. He has presided over a debacle in Yemen that is destroying that country and has been making the U.S. complicit in the Saudi-led coalition’s crimes. He has led Saudi Arabia and its allies into a pointless campaign against Qatar that has mainly succeeded in driving Qatar closer to Iran while demonstrating the weakness of the Saudi-led bloc. There is no reason to think that he will be any more capable or competent when it comes to ruling the kingdom when he takes over from his father. These purges are the work of an ailing king and an insecure and reckless crown prince, and they bode ill for the future stability of Saudi Arabia. That is one more reason why the U.S. should start disentangling itself from the noxious Saudi relationship as soon as possible.

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14 Comments To "The Saudi Purges"

#1 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On November 4, 2017 @ 9:11 pm

Looks like the debacle in Yemen is destroying more than one country.

#2 Comment By Lefty On November 4, 2017 @ 9:19 pm

Hear, hear.

#3 Comment By mid-atlantic passenger On November 4, 2017 @ 9:45 pm

“Framing the arrests as an “anti-corruption” measure also helps to sell the crown prince as the “reformer” that his Western boosters want to pretend that he is. “

And what a hash he made of the charges. The Saudi king created the “anti-corruption” commission (headed by MBS, natch) all of a few hours before it ordered these arrests. Record-breaking efficiency for the Middle East, to say the least.

“but instead he has proven to be completely inept in running the kingdom’s foreign policy. He has presided over a debacle in Yemen that is destroying that country and has been making the U.S. complicit in the Saudi-led coalition’s crimes. He has led Saudi Arabia and its allies into a pointless campaign against Qatar that has mainly succeeded in driving Qatar closer to Iran while demonstrating the weakness of the Saudi-led bloc. “

… but there’s more! He also ordered Hariri to resign from the coalition government with Hezbollah in Lebanon. That will go far to destabilize Lebanon and may even be a prelude to another Israeli invasion.

MBS is bad news. We should have distanced ourselves from him a long time ago, just as we should have distanced ourselves from Netanyahu.

But don’t count on the legacy press waking up to his real nature anytime soon. At worst they’ll treat him like Sisi, and they’ll do it for the same reason: it doesn’t matter how many of the natives MBS butchers, or how authoritarian he becomes, because he plays nice with Israel, and he says things calculated to convey that he’s “moderate”.

Kinda like the Shah.

#4 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On November 5, 2017 @ 12:56 am

What worries (and baffles) me yet more is how increasingly more farcical the world around becomes with each year. Just read it and listen to how it sounds: 11 princes were arrested. Would be too much even for 18-19th century Europe.

#5 Comment By Winston On November 5, 2017 @ 12:59 am

This is a good sign-sign of decline of KSA. It is what is identified as interelite competition and that is a sign of decline.
But in US also interelite competition in both parties! S do not expect Trump to understand.
Trump is exacerbating this:
[4]
Our Biggest Economic, Social, and Political Issue
The Two Economies: The Top 40% and the Bottom 60%
And see what he says:

[5]

Aetna CEO: “Doing Nothing, In the Current Model of Capitalism, Will Destroy Capitalism”

#6 Comment By SteveM On November 5, 2017 @ 10:41 am

Re: “That is one more reason why the U.S. should start disentangling itself from the noxious Saudi relationship as soon as possible.”

When has the recent U.S. regime of arrogant but stupid interventionists ever disentangled itself from any foreign tar baby? On the contrary, the sickeningly sweet odor of failed state dysfunction attracts the forever nosy Washington hacks like dung to…well…dung beetles.

Just like Trump trusts “his Generals”, he also trusts the parallel nitwit Elites from the Security State (Pompeo and his crew at CIA and the rest of the intelligence establishment). They are no doubt whispering sweet nothings in his ear:

“We have the means to control MbS! We can precisely subvert, coerce and assassinate! Trust us, we know what we’re doing! Piece of cake! We’ll make you look like a genius!”

Then Trump will sign off on the stupidity and it will all over but the crying. (And the associated debt to fund the harebrained operations.)

BTW, about the massive security presence today at the NYC Marathon. The MSM never notes that the requirement and the associated massive costs to the taxpayers are directly related to Washington’s historically boneheaded Global Cop machinations that creates enemies out of whole cloth. We have met the enemy, and he is us them.

There ain’t no free lunch. Except for the Cronies calling the shots.

#7 Comment By Liberal On November 5, 2017 @ 12:03 pm

Agree with commenter above about Lebanon.

Things are going to get much worse.

#8 Comment By Put Up or Shut Up Mr. Pres On November 5, 2017 @ 12:07 pm

Right on queue, Our President delivers a stern warning to “dictators and tyrants” who “prey on the innocent” …

[6]

Here you go, Mr. President: your buddy Muhammed bin Salman just executed the classic tyrant move of arresting half his political rivals on “corruption” charges, and we already knew from countless news stories and half the NGOs in the world (plus the UN) that he’s been murdering innocents in Yemen.

So what are you going to do about it?

Are you going to sit there like a bump on a log and let this tyrannical Saudi punk make you look like a chump?

Or are you going to do like you said and use American power to kick him out of power and stop him from butchering any more innocent Yemenis?

#9 Comment By Keith Kelly On November 5, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

trump will think “great idea i ought to try this”

#10 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On November 5, 2017 @ 7:49 pm

And now one more prince with his dies in a car accident…

#11 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On November 5, 2017 @ 7:51 pm

*with his comrades

#12 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On November 5, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Correction: it was a helicopter accident.

#13 Comment By Wake On November 5, 2017 @ 8:53 pm

He is also interestingly trying to liberalize the country, granting women the right to drive funding women’s schools and work, and recently reported to be trying to tame Wahhabism. All correct?

He would presumably be in trouble with the fanatics for any of those things and so may have reasons

Also interesting to me in that 9/11 was done by saudis, with the government the largest global supporter of extremism in Islam. And our response was to ignore that and do other things

He may fail and may not even be trying but it doesn’t seem all bad

#14 Comment By Christian Chuba On November 6, 2017 @ 11:44 am

Our support for MBS is likely making him even more reckless.

I can’t believe that anyone thinks he is less Wahhabist because of his PR stunt allowing women to drive ‘in a year’. Women have been able to drive in Iran for about 30yrs as well as in the most conservative Muslim countries with the exception of perhaps Afghanistan.