(This is Muhammad bin Salman the crown prince of SA)
"Prince Miteb, the preferred son of the late King Abdullah, was once thought to be a leading contender for the throne before the unexpected rise of Prince Mohammed two years ago.
He had inherited control of the National Guard, an elite internal security force built out of traditional tribal units, from his father, who ran it for five decades.
Prince Miteb was the last remaining member of Abdullah’s branch of the family to hold a position in the upper echelons of the Saudi power structure.
The move consolidates Crown Prince Mohammed’s control of the kingdom’s security institutions, which had long been headed by separate powerful branches of the ruling family.
Prince Mohammed, the king’s 32-year-old son, already serves as defense minister and was named heir to the throne in a June reshuffle that sidelined his older cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef who had also served as interior minister." Reuters
IMO what we are seeing here is the consolidation of power within the Salman branch of the Sudairi side of the Saudi royal family.
These people are descendants of abd al-aziz al-saud, the creator of Saudi Arabia as a family owned "executive monarchy." They are all rivals (or potential political allies) in a giant family cousinage of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. of the Wahhabi ruler of Najd who emerged from the desert to seize control of most parts of the Arabian Peninsula. There are thousands of people in the Family.
There are other important figures in the nomenklatura of Saudi Arabia but at root if you are not "family," you are not.
The present king, Salman has appointed his 32 year old son to be his successor as king. This man, Muhammad bin Salman (pictured above) has a vision of of Saudi Arabia as being the hegemon of the ME with influence that reaches beyond its money and political skullduggery. He sees SA as ally and mentor of both Israel and the US and Iran as principal obstacle to achievement of his dream. Saad Hariri's flight into the crown prince's embrace is well timed to help weld together the anti-Shia coalition. Velayati's visit to Beirut was a great excuse for his move.
IMO this purge is intended to achieve the intimidation or removal of those who are the crown princes' rivals on the secular side of Saudi society. Mit'ab bin Abdullah was the head of SANG, a non MODA armed force for decades. Bin Talal is a major financial power in the world.
If there is not a successful coup against the crown prince in the next days, his follow up move will probably be to purge the Shia clergy of the Eastern Province. pl
Cleaning house in the name of corruption by a 32 year old member of the lucky sperm club who has spent nearly a billion dollars on homes, yachts, cars, planes and other lavish spending alone. Perfect opportunity for the Shias to preempt his next move, though the Iranians are probably more amused by the opportunity MBS’s delusional thinking holds for them.
This consolidation of power was bound to come when the time came for the old guard to give way to the new. As luck has it, it is Mohammad bin Salman not Mit-ab Abdullah who is the next king. It could very easily have been the other a few years ago. And as is the norm with successions of this sort, other potential claimants to the throne either go to the prison or to the netherworld. Nothing special here.
The worry here is that everyone seems to be gearing up for war. Israel, after seeing their whole campaign against Syria breaking down, making statements that it will go into Syria to protect a Druze village. Saudi making threats about cutting off the Iranian hand. Lots of visits of middle east potentates, from King Salman to Netanyahu to Moscow where they were politely told to f*ck off (I suppose). All this along with the war in Syria winding down with lots of ex-ISIS gently changing their side to the US supported SDF (can’t think of a more oxymoronic name, neither Syrian, nor democratic and not much of a force either without US air support)
The situation in the middle east seems very similar to what it would have felt like in Europe before world wars I and II. Alliances being formed and everyone just loading their guns and waiting. We might still yet avoid the big one – Israel + Saudi + allies (maybe with the US, maybe not) against the Iranians and their allies (including SAA and Hezbollah but most probably with the Russians not taking a side).
It benefits the Israelis and the Saudis to push this to the brink and let the war start now. The other side would prefer to wait, patiently as they have done for the last many years. The key player here would be the US. Trump is the only one who can pull back barking Netanyahu from his mad dog war by not playing along. But will he?
He is utilizing the same play book as Xi Ping of China.
In regards to his grand ambitions, he will fail since the material, organizational, and intellectual elements for their realization do not exist in Saudi Arabia. But the Faranji will stoke him and take his money, laughing and joking about this new Ifi Ami.
“…his follow up move will probably be to purge the Shia clergy…”
Isn’t it more likely that it will be the Sunni clergy he’ll purge first?
What will a purge of the Eastern Province’s Shia clergy look like?
And please forgive me for asking–beyond oil politics, I am utterly ignorant about anything within Saudi Arabia–but what power do the Eastern provinces’ Shia clergy wield? Do those have any kind of political recourse within the house of Saud, or are their only choices violent rebellion / utter subjugation?
it could go either way but he probably sees the Shia clergy as Iranian subversives. pl
They have no recourse except rebellion. pl
It is a grudge match that will not alter the strategic situation.
As per usual, Arabs will be losers in any case; reprising their history since 1945.
I do feel sorry for the Arab people, and those non-Arabs dragged by them into these fruitless policies.
Not even that, which would be suicidal.
God bless them.
The whole world is in the situation analogous to what obtained in Europe between 1886 and 1914, with the Middle East being the Global Balkans.
The danger, in my opinion, lies mostly amonh the Olympians of the Western Gortress – they are clearly vety prone to miscalculation.
I think Kushner’s trip gives this a US meaning as well:
The Arabs have a recourse – some are exercising it now by streaming into Europe. I have some new Syrian neighbors from a few years back as well. The only voting that matters is with your feet, your wallet or your rifle (knife, sword, spear?). And somebody always has a bigger or more guns, so that vote is always the most risky to cast.
My reference was to the Shia Arabs of the Eastern Province. They have no recourse other than rebellion. pl
Things just got a whoooole lot crazier.
Prince Bin-Muqrin was the descendant of the Prince who was replaced by Bin Salman. If this was a staged incident it was an incredibly stupid one. Nobody’s going to believe it was an accident without 100% proof positive.
in historical monarchies that followed primogeniture this was common practice upon a change in succession.
the saudi, might be one of the only (if not the only) major monarchy in history that has had several lateral succession among brothers. rather than continuously from father to son.
while the timing is indicative, and “cleaning house” would be a prerequisite for starting any major conflagration, i see it as far less telling than the harari show for instance.
and on top of the MBS does not have a very good tract record of making good decisions and planing and executing them well.
So they are going to enjoy European freedom that they did nothing to earn but show up with a bag of money or a refugee story? How’s that currently working out for the Europeans? I’ve seen read that plenty them don’t like that open border policy at all.
I just saw the report about the helicopter crash involving Saudis shortly ago. The New York Times newspaper plugged it into an article near the bottom about the shakeup in the Saudi ruling family–
Surprisingly, fairly near the top, the article quotes Chas Freeman, probably because the article originated out of the Times’ London bureau. Here in the states in the mass media, Mr. Freeman’s exceptional knowledge and experience is not welcome–
“It is the coup de grâce of the old system,” said Chas W. Freeman, a former United States ambassador. “Gone. All power has now been concentrated in the hands of Mohammad bin Salman.”
Since you never know in a NY Times article where a pertinent sentence might be, here is one further down the page, under the invisible subheading, coincidences–
“Three White House advisers, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner [who were the other two?], returned just days ago from the latest in at least three high-level Trump administration visits to Saudi Arabia this year.”
Then, still further down, under the same subheading, the helicopter crash is mentioned, beginning, in classic NY Times fashion, with: “In what appeared to be an unrelated episode….”–
“In what appeared to be an unrelated episode, a helicopter carrying another Saudi royal, Prince Mansur bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Asir Province, which borders Yemen, was killed on Sunday along with a number of other officials when their helicopter crashed. Al Arabiya, which reported the crash in a brief dispatch, did not identify the cause.”
If I am interpreting the chart of the Saudi ruling family correctly, posted by Col. Lang above, the person killed, Muqrin, is the brother of King Salman, and was a former “crown prince”.
As’ad AbuKhalil, who grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and teaches at California State University at Stanislaus, wrote some commentary on the situation–
AbuKhalil does raise the issue that if there is a big anti-corruption campaign going on, a name that has not been raised for discussion is one “Bandar Bush” bin Sultan.
IMO what we’re seeing are the Saudis and Israelis working in concert to prep the ground for another ME war, this one directed at Saudi’s rival Iran and what it sees as Iran’s puppet (Hizballah). Saudi will use their influence ($$$$) upon their Muktahr on one side, and the Israelis will use their paid 5th column inside America’s religious societies to prep the American citizenry on the other side that it is ‘necessary’ that there be another ME war, this one at the evil rival of their Hegemony called Iran.
Saudis and Israelis are playing both sides against the middle, and we the American citizenry are what they see as the Oreo creme in the middle to be molded at their whim.
And of course none of the American religious leadership’s kids and grand-kids will be spilling their blood, just our kids whom both the Saudis and Israelis see as cannon fodder.
I was in Kenya a few years ago and my guides were telling me that 3 opposition leaders had died in 3 different plane crashes in the last 10 years. Kenyans have much more liberty and ability to protest than the Saudis. The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must – especially in KSA.
Thank you for this analysis Colonel, I don’t know anything about the specifics of House Saud and nothing I read from MSM reports since this has happened have told me anything,except summing it up as “anti corruption” or some other BS without any context whatsoever….how deeply in the dark hole of mis/disinformation we are kept.
Actually, succession via a line of brothers, or agnatic seniority, is quite common in the Gulf. While the family tree above is useful, it doesn’t really show what you need to look for, which is the potential line of brothers that form up beside Muhammad bin Salman.
Essentially, what we are seeing is the long-expected “extinguishing” of the Sudairi 7 line of brothers, with Salman’s descendants maneuvering to form the new line of succession. Salman’s older brother Nayef and his sons also gave it a shot, but they were shut out. For now, anyway…
It also appears those with close ties/affiliations with the Bush’s and the Clinton’s were uprooted.
Whose boots hit the ground in war-making against Iran? Not the KSA; probably not any frontline USA infantry or SF? Only an air and cruise missile war?
What would a winnable war look like that would set Iran’s overall military capabilities back ‘far enough’ without causing it to be another ME failed state?
robt, not that it matters.
I read AbuKhalil’s 2002 book, but admittedly I am highly hesitant about his BDS position. To the extend it makes me wonder about the guy more generally. I have to admit that I am with Norman Finkelstein in this context. His versus Norman’s position seems to plays into the hands of Israel.
Rumor (?) has it that Prince abd-al-aziz bin fahd (son of the late king) was either killed resisting arrest or died in custody? Is this true? pl
For what it’s worth.
The report was apparently issued by the Saudi royal court but didn’t say how. Seems like quite a crazy time for Saudis to be invoking article 51
Another theory relating to the mass recent arrests and helicopter “crashes” in Wahhabi Barbaria
“Prince Abdul Aziz was deeply involved in Saudi Oger Ltd, a company which until it ceased operations in the summer of this year, was owned by the Hariri family. Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was putitively in charge of the company until it ceased operations.
Prince Abdul Aziz’s strange and sudden death which is said to have occurred during an attempted arrest, sheds light on the theory that the clearly forced resignation of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri had more to do with internal Saudi affairs than the Saudi attempt to bring instability to Lebanon.”
I was reading the Wikipedia page on the “Volcano H-2” missile that was reportedly intercepted over Riyadh, and it states:
“Volcano H-2 was first revealed to the international community when it was launched at Saudi Arabia on July 22, 2017, which successfully hit the region of Yanbu and caused a major fire at Aramco oil refineries. Although this is disputed by Saudi Arabia which has said the fire was caused by a malfunctioning generator and the humidity of the air.”
Wow. So the Houthis are building short range ballistic missiles and managed to set fire to an Aramco refinery with one. I can’t believe I did not know about this.
Perhaps more significant than the purge of the Saudi royal family is the purge taking place of the Saudi clergy (see http://tinyurl.com/ya9de889).
The Saudi royals being sidelined or killed are just wealthy playboys. The Wahhabi clergy, while mercenary hangers-on of the al Saud, command a following both in the country and among Wahhabis internationally.
It is a measure of the rot in the Saudi kingdom that one headstrong young princeling has been able to so easily take it over. How long he lasts will probably be a function of external machinations.
On August 17, 2017, the motorcade tof the Prince was attacked near Paris by an armed commando, who stole some pocket money (250 000 euros), medicines and some documents. Here is the report by Le Monde : http://abonnes.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2014/08/19/abdel-aziz-ben-fahd-prince-saoudien-peu-discret-braque-aux-portes-de-paris_4473283_3224.html
and by the Figaro :
Hello FB Ali
The link does not seem to work….
The tinyurl worked for me. Is the same thing happening to the Shia clergy in the Eastern Province? p
The idiot press keeps saying it is the Houthis who fired the missile. In fact it was the Yemeni Army guided missile battalion. They had SCUD when I was there as Defatt 30 years ago. pl
Jack Keane was on Fox today referring to the SANG as the “palace guard.” The SANG is a second Saudi army not under MODA and numbering 250,00- fulltime Beduin troops with a sizable armored force and vast part time reserves. its function is to ensure population and territorial security throughout the country but especially in the Eastern Province to insure control of the Shia. Removing Mit’ab from command was a key move to block a counter-coup. pl
It’s the spurious ‘).’ at the end which fools some browsers, better put a blank after each URL.
Copy the link, put into search engine and erase the final parentheses and period which will let the article appear.
“It is a measure of the rot in the Saudi kingdom that one headstrong young princeling has been able to so easily take it over.”
But it is only the third day of the counter coup event which has change the paradigm. And with his highhandedness to the other family princes, returning fighters from Syria and Iraq, and, from several different media sources of a consensus the that Crown Prince is not well liked I wonder if he will see this next Saturday let alone December. Or could the Kingdom have its own breakdown to civil war like it has provoked in others?
That makes more sense to me re Hariri. Trying to start a war with a resignation & obviously fake assassination plot is hardly Helen of Troy level, as casus belli go. His going the way of his father ‘at the hands of Hizbullah’ would have been more like it.
Now this is very interesting – the connection between the killed Prince and Hariri and his resignation from Riyadh.
Where there is smoke there is a fire.
Thanks for this.
In my humble opinion, this is very significant. But MbS has so many balls in the air now, I cannot imagine how it will all turn out.
Also, there is this hypothesis from Adam Garrie at the Duran – BREAKING: Saudi regime orders arrest of so-called “Syrian opposition leaders”
The US will try to “finesse it” with air and naval forces – but it won’t work. There is no way the US Navy can prevent Iran from shutting down the Straits of Hormuz. Iran can dump mines and the like all day long using small boats.
The only way the US can keep the Straits open for shipping is to occupy the shores all along the Iran coast. It would take scores of thousands of Marines and US Army – if we have them. And they would then be the targets of a guerrilla war by a million or so Iranian militia alongside Iranian regulars and IRGC. This would produce thousands of casualties per year, not the hundreds a year the Iraq war produced.
There is no chance the US can win a war with Iran. It’s four times bigger than Iraq in size and population, and Iranians will never surrender. The war will cost four times what the Iraq-Afghanistan wars combined cost. Iraq would probably throw out any US forces remaining and join in on Iran’s side.
While Iran has little ability to project military power abroad, it can conduct missile attacks on significant Saudi oil assets, on US bases in the region, and other kinds of “asymmetric” attacks throughout the region on US assets.
A Pentagon war game conducted early in this century pitted a US Marine general as the head of Iran’s forces against US forces. He managed to sink 16 US naval vessels. They had to suspend the war game and “re-float” the vessels to continue the game. While the US thinks it has defenses against small boat “swarm attacks”, we won’t know how effective they are until the war actually starts.
Iran won’t be a failed state because its ethnic divisions aren’t as significant as Iraq’s were. If anything, it’s likely to become stronger in the region despite a significant destruction of its infrastructure by the US air campaign.
We did keep the straits open once before against Iranian efforts to the contrary. Operations Earnest Will and Nimble Archer. I was very involved in those events. BTW your attitude toward Wikipedia is that of a pedant. pl
A question for those more knowledgeable about Islam than I:
Does all the strife in the Islamic world, twixt Shia, Sunni, Kurds for example,
totally disprove the idea that “Islam is a religion of peace”,
and the notion that Dar al-Islam is a “territory of peace”?
I would be interested to hear what those more knowledgeable about Islam think about this.
Islam enjoins peace among Muslims, not toward infidels (kuffar) or true heathen (wathenieen). This sounds simple but it is not. As I have treid many tiemes to explain Islam is a religio-cultural construct in which because there is no central authority, groups of various size decide what Islam and Sharia are on the basis of consensus (ijma’)the resulting consensus groups are more or less hostile toward all other consensus groups. In the case of Sunni jihadi consensus groups they are violent in the rejection of all other groups. that is why HTS and IS fight each other. Ethnic difference further complicate matters. Does that make your head hurt? pl
I have tried many times on this forum, and I will try again: Islam is not a religion of Peace – it is a religion of both War and Peace. While peace is preferrable, at times, war becomes a necessity.
Succession via brothers was a common means of succession among the Turkic/Mongolian tribes of the eastern and central Asian steppe, as well. What we are seeing in Saudi Arabia was often repeated in those tribes, as well: once the line of brothers ran out–or if the last remaining brother was considered weak, and susceptible–then this kind of free-for-all among the competing offspring was common, and often resulted in a new line of brothers rising to possession of the throne.
Another answer to your question is that Muslims take their religion (or the various versions of it) much more seriously than, say, modern Christians.
They are going through the same phase that Christians did earlier (eg, the Thirty Years War). The latter soon moved on to fighting over other causes (King, country, nation, etc); Muslims are still fighting over religious beliefs.
IMO it is being used as a diversion (to the dislike of EU politics. People don’t like it, but a lot of this is based on sentiment. When you look into the facts (which not a lot of people do), it isn’t that important or troublesome.
It does however play in the hands of populist-nationalist parties who keep growing. It does also mean that the Euroborg are still able to form new governments as a lot of voters elect strategic against (ultra) right and left populist parties or only a relative small percentage is enough to become the next government. In my country with a very small coalition of pro-Euro parties (76 of 150 seats) and for example in France (and the UK) with stepped electoral elections (2 rounds in France and a system similar to the US in the UK). No government has a strong electoral majority.
IMO the next elections will be won by the (ultra)right and muslims (in particular refugees) will be used as scapegoats.
Part of the problem is that a lot of asylum seekers are young, male and alonw who regardless of culture are always more problematic than families. IMO it would have been better to insist on extendedfamilies. Improper behavior will be handled internally and return when the situation is improving (like Syria) is easier.
Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or is the Prince going after 911 players as well?
Pepe Escobar at Asia Times has a post up at AT with what appears to be a lot of inside scoop on the Saudi purge and its consequences. In the past his reporting has generally been pretty reliable with regard to other countries but I don’t recall him ever delving into Saudi affairs before. I’m very curious to read what others here think of this story.
As for that war game – it was named “Millennium Challenge 2002”.
An interesting read. Soooo … a capable but retired Marine general fought smart and beat the US Navy in an exercise and Pace, a still active Marine General … by order … refloats the lost ships to … not lose, err, to win. How realistic. What a brilliant strategist.
Mr. Van Riper appears to be a capable man. As for Pace, I’m not so sure.
Interestingly Pace’s wiki entry says that “Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced on June 8, 2007, that he would advise the President to not renominate Pace for a second term” as a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
* For one, the script of the exercise – in one sentence: “Surrender or we’ll bomb ya” – appears familiar.
** I’m speculating: Perhaps Gates problem with the man was that sunken ships usually cannot be re-floated by, say, an edict, willing or an order?
Concur completely with your assessment on events in Saudi Arabia, as well as your subsequent comments; particularly following my recent roadtrip back to KSA. MBS is all about consolidation of power, and not social or economic reform as many experts are saying. The second order effect of this is exactly as someone noted that AMB Freeman has commented, as the end of “Consensus/Ijma” among the Saudi royal family. The third order effects, particularly for US interests, may be more significant, depending if MBS’s next actions are as successful (sic) as they have been so far (i.e. Yemen, Qatar, etc). I would guess that POTUS is being advised what the long-term US interest WRT Saudi Arabia and the region, and is continuing to ignore it, particularly when you look at the makeup of the recent Kushner delegation.
No one’s yet mentioned Prince Talal, al Waleed’s father. I seem to remember him being something of a reformer/black sheep, 30 years ago. Is he still around?
You had been warned
It says here he was shot
Is MBS a descendant of the man who died in a crash in Texas pre- 911?
Pepe Escobar always claims to have an “inside scoop” on various developments. I find this rather dubious!
In this post he writes of “a struggle emanating from the military”. BS!
The real armed force in SA is the National Guard. If they could let their commander, Prince Miteb b. Abdullah, be arrested without a squeak (in spite of their long association with his family), I don’t see the army doing anything. As I said above, the whole kingdom is rotten to the core.
He also says that, after the death of his father, King Salman, MbS will face a backlash. I doubt that, too. His take is in line with that of the US establishment (especially the CIA), which lost many of its supporters in MbS’s purge.
MbS sees the writing on the wall; he is moving SA out of the US’s orbit and closer to that of Russia and China.
“which lost many of its supporters in MbS’s purge” Any basis for this statement? IN SA if you associate with Americans you are automatically suspect. To recruit clandestine assets you have to be able to associate with people. In SA surveillance is everywhere. They follow people to your door and wait outside. detention is without habeas corpus and is unlimited in length. I suppose you could recruit Saudis in London or Nice if you could get their attention. Typically these wastrels and vapid billionaires have no serious interests. CIA’s role in SA has always been almost entirely liaison to the Saudi service. I am sure that CIA has never been a political force in SA. pl
I did not say that any of these people were CIA agents. What I said was that the US and the CIA lost many of their “supporters”. By that I meant people who were pro-US or/and had good relations with the US government or the CIA. Such as former Crown Prince M b Nayef.
The Saudi royal family has always had good relations with the US, and on many occasions has acted on US requests (many call them directions). A lot of the royal princes had financial assets, residences and other ties to/in the US. Almost all of them who were in-country have been arrested by MbS.
“or the CIA.’ No. As I have tried to tell you social interaction outside of government to government channels or business delegation visits is impossible. You greatly exaggerate the extent of US government leverage over SA. They are very good at flim-flamming us. pl
Most opposition parties in Holland are also pro-EU or pro-EU if run differently and even Wilders party is against Eastern Europe but not really against a EU without Eastern Europe
Iraq wasn’t resupplied by Russia and China. Iran will be. Iran is also not an partly empty plain.