By Dee McLachlan
When I try to understand what is happening in Saudi Arabia — it is like working out an impossible math formula. But I’m going to try make some sense of it, as it seems Saudi Arabia is gearing up for war.
Corruption Purge and a Hotel Prison
Over the last few days there are reports of a purge against CORRUPTION, with the Saudi Authorities detaining 201 Saudi princes and businessmen. As news.com.au report:
“…a bold and risky move by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [known as MBS] aimed at consolidating power as he casts his eye toward the throne, sidelining potential rivals and dismantling alliances built with other branches of the royal family…
“The sweep comes at a time of increased tensions between Saudi Arabia and its main regional rival, Iran, over the ongoing conflict and suffering in Yemen and a newly erupting political crisis in Lebanon.”
What does the word corruption mean in Saudi Arabia? I can’t imagine.
Reports indicate that 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), son of King Salman (MBS) just killed one of his best friends in the purge (apparently they used to go pub crawling together), and then a helicopter, with another prince leaving the country, was shot down. It was announced — on Twitter — that the Ritz Carlton, the seven star luxurious hotel, has become an elite prison.
Another extraordinary event happened regarding the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He was “summoned” to Riyadh by his Saudi-backers and suddenly resigned — remotely — from Saudi Arabia. He is a dual citizen (of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia). This report from the Independent:
“The Saudis may be holding the Lebanese Prime Minister hostage but their apparent plan to topple the Beirut government has gloriously backfired… the Lebanese nation has suddenly woken up to what it’s like to be united – against the Saudis.”
Maybe this was intentional — to incite the Lebanese people, and justify a war. Who fired the ballistic missile at Riyadh’s airport?
This BS was in the New York Times:
“In some ways, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who serves as defense minister, [and controls the police] is just what his country needs… He has cultivated an image as a dynamic leader, keen to take a rigid conservative country into the modern era.”
My first question for Crown Prince MBS would be: “Do you drink Johnnie Walker?”
I know it is illegal to drink or possess alcohol in Saudi Arabia. In fact 500 lashes await anyone convicted of disobeying Islam’s drinking law — apparently. It is a serious crime, but the punishment is discretionary. But hang on. How can it be then, that the Kingdom is one of the greatest consumers of Johnnie Walker Black Label Whiskey? And when Paddy Briggs (sounds Irish) did a stint in Riyadh years ago, he was told that one of the ruling family had the Johnnie Walker “concession” and arranged it all.
So how do you manage a binary (two-tiered) society where the elite, flushed with cash, can do what they want and the rest have to live by another set of rules?
As many commentators have written in the past. The ruling class have a problem. There is a “youth bulge” with nearly half of the population under 25, and the unemployment rate for this demographic is 30%. Most revolutions occur when there is an “intolerable gap between what people want and what they get.” So when will the ordinary folk start demanding Johnnie Walker?
Oil Reserves and War
The whiskey is bought with money earned from oil. Oil is everything — with most of the country’s oil fields being discovered between 1936 and 1970. No outsider knows how much oil there is, as reserve estimates are state secrets, known by only a small group of insiders.
I remember the time (in South Africa) when we were told oil reserves were about to run out. Well in Saudi Arabia — no problem — they just kept adjusting the estimates of the amount of oil recoverable from existing reservoirs. Official estimates were raised without explanation from 170 billion barrels (in 1987) to 260 billion in 1989.
Also, the Saudis are planning a 5% IPO – Initial Public Offering — in 2018 of their oil reserve futures. This is estimated at $2 trillion, and they are hoping to get $200 billion. But that’s 10%? The question analysts are asking: why is Saudi Arabia selling a percentage of its oil reserves if it has 60 more years of future oil production?
Reuters reported that,
“Rystad Energy, a respected consultancy, puts Saudi Arabia’s proved reserves at 70 billion barrels, and its proved and probable reserves at 120 billion barrels.” [this conflicts with the graph above]
The dropping price of oil has caused countless problems. So is this turmoil all about a failing economy?
The Saudis agreed, back in the 70s, to sell their oil in Petro-dollars. It has come back to haunt them. I have no idea what the US and the Saudis have done to keep the Petro-dollar intact, but it seems that the wars in the Middle East are all part this.
A few things are happening. Their economy is locked into oil — and they seem to be unable to diversify their economy for the next generation, and the low price of oil has resulted in the falling of their foreign exchange reserves.
As The Hill wrote back in December 2016:
“If the Saudi economy fails, a few factors could prevent the young (84 year-old) Al Saud monarchy from being overthrown:
A) Instating a populist “Strong Man” (“MBS”) [DONE]
B) A strong internal security/police state [DONE]
C) Apathy of the people in Saudi and/or blaming America, and
D) Attacking or invading neighboring countries.” [IN PROCESS & PLANNING]
There have also been reports over the last year that the Saudis have been purchasing weapons of war. In May (2017) this was reported:
“President Donald Trump is celebrating a ten-year, $US350 billion (A$460 billion) arms deal with Saudi Arabia…”
It is no surprise that Lockheed Martin was the big winner.
In Need of an Enemy
And a sentence in Blacklisted News sums it up:
“Right now, the kingdom’s leadership is desperately in need of an enemy to unite the population and draw their attention away from the chaotic events that are unfolding in the country.”
Mike Rivero from WRH wrote yesterday:
“This ‘attack against corruption’, with which these imprisoned princes are accused, was simply a way for the Crown Prince to consolidate his power; seize about 88 billion dollars’ worth of assets; and leave him a free hand to finish the job in Yemen… and tricking the Iranian military into invading Lebanon to defend Hizbullah as an excuse to declare war against Iran.
“We have just seen the Saudi decree that all Saudi nationals need to leave Lebanon immediately… But Prince Salman had better get his geopolitical ducks in somewhat of a row before he attacks Iran. Russia’s military and civilian leadership has pledged, consistently, that should Iran be attacked, Russia will come to its aid militarily.
“Were I he, and his advisors, I would rethink that scenario through, very, very carefully before he starts World War III.”
Of Saudi Arabia’s detention of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hariri, Hezbollah leader in Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said,
“It is clear that Saudi Arabia and Saudi officials have declared war on Lebanon and on Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Iran and Saudi Arabia have already been fighting a proxy war in Syria. Is this about boosting the economy, the Royals — or stealing oil reserves from Lebanon or other parts of Persia? Maybe it is just the Military Industrial Complex going about creating another war to keep business as usual.
I have posted a Corbet Report video below: