There seems to be a lot of change and turmoil happening in the House of Saud and Saudi Arabia in general.
Seems like we are getting a surprise a week or so. I don’t know what to make of it, partly because I’ve not been paying much attention lately, and partly due to it being a place that generally didn’t interest me much. But it is being pushed to the forefront due to the scope and rate of changes.
Women are being allowed to drive. OK, got that. About time.
Saudi is bombing folks in Yemen and stepping up to providing their own defense. About time, but maybe a bit heavy handed. Wondering just where they intend to stop. Qatar being squeezed for being friendly to Iran, but is that the last step or the first step in an anti-Iran anti-Shiia move? Where will a militant Saudi put the finished line?
Saudi Aramco up for sale. OK, may make sense as a simple diversification, but… Can’t help wondering if the oil is running a bit thin so they want to sell at a huge cash rake before how bad it really is shows up… or if they are just all on board with the Global Warming Scam and want to diversify out of oil and into Teslas, batteries, and wind farms…
Now we have a New Prince in town shaking up the other Princes and Families. What the?…
This link pegged 2 cores on the Odroid XU4 at 100%. Yes, I had 6 more cores to go, but I don’t like it when pages that ought to just be displaying text and a picture cause cores to slam to full operation. So I’ve copied the whole article here just so nobody else has to “go there” if on small systems. It might only be some bit of Java that doesn’t do well in this browser (so goes open loop) or it might be something trying to crawl into a Microsoft Box and not figuring out this is Linux and it’s kit will not work… but I’m not interested in debugging their page.
Bold bits mine. Generally looks to me like a power grab and desire to concentrate wealth from non-oil sources into the hands of the House of Saud royals.
Saudi Crown Prince’s unprecedented shakeup changes Kingdom
With Hariri’s resignation, Israel has more leeway in next war with Lebanon
Saudis gamble on Hariri resignation to check Iranian grip on Lebanon
By Seth J. Frantzman
November 6, 2017 13:16
Arrest of numerous princes and businessmen in corruption probe aims to consolidate power and remake country, experts say.
Saudi Arabia has placed itself front and center of the news in the Middle East. First the country enabled former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to make his momentous resignation from Riyadh. Now a swath of senior princes and officials have been rounded up with allegations of corruption. Amidst the momentous news, a missile was also fired from Yemen at the capital city’s airport Saturday night.
Foremost among the potentates carted off in Saudi’s anti-corruption probe is Al-Waleed bin Talal, a prince whose vast holdings include a web of the most important media and financial groups in the United States: Twitter, News Corp, 21st Century Fox and Citigroup. A dozen other princes, and businessmen have been arrested as well.
So if he was so corrupt what does that say about his influence on Twitter, News Corp, Fox, etc. etc.? This guy was touted as the Saudi Warren Buffet; so maybe he’s more like the Saudi Ponzi or what?
Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice-president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies says that charges are also part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)’s attempt to reshape the Saudi government in his own image. “MBS is looking to bring in new blood, fresh thinking and younger leadership to bring the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into the modern era,” says Schanzer. He argues that “these corruption charges appear to be one part of that effort.” MBS, who was born in 1985 and is the eldest son of King Salman, has been crown prince since June 2017. Since 2015 he has been Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia. When he was appointed to that role at age 29 he was the youngest defense minister in the world.
Dr. Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, says the attempt to consolidate power is unprecedented and could also be dangerous for the Kingdom. “Israelis and the establishment [in Israel] I assume look favorably on the foreign policy that MBS initiated. We like his boldness and activity and aggressiveness against Iran and against Iran proxies in Yemen etc.” However while his conduct against Iran is welcomed, there is a potential downside. “I’m not so sure if what is going on inside Saudi reassures Israelis. In the long run any instability or conflict inside the palace can affect the tacit relations behind closed doors. Any damage to Saudi regional status is not something that Israel would be happy about because of the shared interests between the countries.” Before the shakeup, MBS had carved out a niche as a reformer looking to the future. He supported privatization and changes in Saudi Arabia that would affect health care, education and military sectors of the economy, according to a profile in Egypt Today. He has also supported the potential massive IPO of ARAMCO and been outspoken on bringing women into the economy. US President Donald Trump has reportedly welcomed the listing of Aramco on US stock exchanges, part of Trump’s overall policy to work closely with the Saudis on numerous regional issues. The Crown Prince is also involved in other reforms. In September the Kingdom announced the women would begin to receive the right to drive a car.
So is it just Trump being OK with that, or was it Trump giving a bit of a shove? I doubt the Saudi’s would care what anyone else thinks, given their incredible ownership of much of the world… but you never know what leverage exists.
The overall picture of the shakeup in Saudi Arabia is that if affects numerous high profile people. According to a list tweeted by policy analyst and visiting Professor at the University of Miami Rula Jebreal, it includes Prince Mitaib bin Abdullah, Minister of the National Guard, Prince Turki bin Abdullah, former Governor of Riyadh and Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, former President of the Royal Court, as well as a raft of other former ministers of labor and finance, chiefs of the investment authority, a former head of Saudi Arabian airlines and the CEO of the Bin Ladin Group and Saudi Telecom. According to The Daily Sabah in Turkey, the arrests include the heads of three state-owned TV networks. At least two of those arrested are sons of the late King Abdullah who died in 2015. Those detained range in age from 47 to 67 years old.
Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya presents the arrests as a widespread anti-corruption campaign. It says that Mohammed Bin Salman’s new “anti-corruption committee” has sweeping powers to “investigate, arrest, ban from travel, freeze accounts and portfolios, track funds and assets of individuals.” In addition the reporting seeks to link those arrests to the floods that affected Jeddah in 2009 and responses to a health crisis. The Kingdom highlights this as a clear indication that “no one is above the law.” Another Saudi news outlet described the Crown Prince’s actions as a “war against corruption.” The hashtag “king fights corruption” is now trending.
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, was quoted in Daily Sabah saying that MBS is setting his sights to remain in power for decades. He is “remaking the kingdom in his own image and signaling a potentially significant move away from the consensual balancing of competing interests that characterized Saudi rule in the past.” Ian Black at the London School of Economics told Al-Jazeera a similar message. “Since Mohammed bin Salman became the crown prince in June, we’ve seen a lot of upheaval. We’ve seen the announcement of this very ambitious Saudi plan to transform the Saudi economy, [called] Vision 2030.”
Saudi Arabia’s actions do not come in a vacuum. It is part of a larger alliance with the gulf states and Egypt. The United Arab Emirates has said it stands firmly with the Saudis, although its comments don’t clearly reference the arrests, but rather the Yemenite missile. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said that foreign hands “will not undermine the resolve of our brothers in the Kingdom.”
That choice of 2030 is a bit of a worry, being aligned with the Global Warming / UN Agenda dates. Could just be a coincidence, maybe.
Saudi and to some extent regional stock markets are down a bit. Folks “in the area” showing some worry.
Here’s another view on it from NPR, the NGO of National Public Radio in the USA that does much more than radio now.
With Saudi Arrests, Crown Prince Shows He Can Force Change. But It’s Not Democracy
November 6, 20174:21 PM ET
Caption to the photo of the Crown Prince:
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh last month. “We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he said at the economic forum.
Well, it would be nice for the various Wahhabi hard core mosques to stop preaching such a hard core version of Islam, but I’m not seeing how that’s going to change any time soon. So better tolerance for use infidels would be a welcome change.
The Saudi prince behind the weekend’s unprecedented arrest of high-level Saudi officials and businessmen is known as young and brash, and has even been called reckless. He is also known to be in tune with Saudi Arabia’s youth; those under 25 make up a majority of the country’s population.
The prince’s latest high-risk move has gotten rave reviews from Saudis on Twitter, the country’s most popular social media outlet. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, or MBS, as the 32-year-old leader is known, is gambling that he can modernize the ultra-conservative kingdom by consolidating power and mobilizing a generation of young people, say Saudi analysts inside and outside the kingdom.
So going for a rapid “cultural coup” with a demographic angle? Sure hope he has good control of the Royal Guard and Military. And doesn’t get shown to have committed some sin for which he can be claimed non-Muslim…
These high-profile targets were previously considered untouchable in the Saudi kingdom and follow other controversial moves, including a royal decree allowing women to drive and limits on the power of the religious police.
It does not mean Saudi Arabia is opening up to democracy. The country’s rulers are unelected monarchs with a record of jailing critics and members of the Shiite minority. And the purge — action taken by a single leader — is very much in keeping with Saudi royal tradition. But the sweep of arrests marks a change.
So in an accepted historical pattern, but implies folks ought to have known to make preparations in case it happened; so raises the stakes that someone might have a $billion or two stuffed in a Swiss Bank with directions to hire mercenaries should they be arrested…
“It is unprecedented, more for the speed and the scale,” says H.A. Hellyer, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London and the Atlantic Council. Mohammed bin Salman is sending a message, he says: “This guy is in charge and nobody is off the table.”
The crown prince is a Saudi-educated son of the current King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud Salman. In a surprise move, he was elevated in June to become next in the succession, replacing his older cousin.
“His position is already secure. It’s not like he was being challenged. Everyone suspects he will be announced as the new king. But you can always consolidate more,” says Hellyer.
In one of his first TV interviews after his June promotion, Mohammed bin Salman pledged to tackle endemic corruption in the kingdom. “No one who got involved in a corruption case will escape, regardless if he was a minister or a prince,” he warned.
It turned out to be no idle threat.
“Many of them have been known as deeply corrupt,” said a Saudi official who supports the crown prince and requested anonymity to discuss the arrest list — which includes former CEOs of Saudi Telecom and Saudi Airlines, four sitting cabinet ministers and high-profile business leaders from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s business capital on the Red Sea coast. Some had close personal relations to the crown prince.
These high-profile arrests send a powerful message, said the Saudi official. Business as usual is over, he said, with this “shock to the system.”
Well I guess some of them made one too many brags to the wrong guy about how much ‘rake’ they were creaming…
His anti-corruption commission launched a new probe into an old corruption case involving damage after floods devastated the Red Sea city of Jeddah in 2009. Torrential rains washed away thousands of homes and killed more than 120 people.
“No one was held to account there for the damage after the floods,” said the Saudi official who asked for anonymity. “Fighting corruption is always popular.”
The devastation in Jeddah was blamed on corrupt real estate practices and spurred a grassroots political movement that launched the career of a female activist, 38-year-old Rasha Hefzi. She won a seat on the Jeddah local council in 2015, when women could run for office for the first time.
The government has announced new trials with as many as 320 defendants, including some already acquitted by local courts.
Well, I guess asking for “double jeopardy” protection is unlikely there… It looks like partially the Prince is pushing things to make the people happy. Every new ruler needs to make the rabble like him, or risk rebellion. Tossing a few corrupt princes and “dukes” under the bus has been a winner for ages.
Interesting Trump connection here:
The new populism in the kingdom has the backing of the Trump administration — in particular,Jared Kushner, who reportedly has a close personal relationship with the crown prince.
But Mohammed bin Salman is playing a high-stakes game and there are grave risks, says F. Gregory Gause, head of the international affairs department at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service.
“The biggest risk here is to Prince Mohammad’s Vision 2030,” he says, a far-reaching reform plan to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil and diversify the economy.
“If some of the leading figures of the Saudi private sector can be detained in this way, it introduces enormous uncertainty into the investment environment,” says Gause. “Capitalists do not like uncertainty.”
So a close personal relationship with a Jew? How’s that going to sit with the rest of the House Of Saud? In the original, that Vision 2030 is a link to:
It looks like a positive vision statement. I was once told by an Arab friend that Saudi was sitting on a mountain of gold that would someday be mined after the oil ran out. That this statement talks to mining gold is interesting.
Our country is rich in its natural resources. We are not dependent solely on oil for our energy needs. Gold, phosphate, uranium, and many other valuable minerals are found beneath our lands. But our real wealth lies in the ambition of our people and the potential of our younger generation. They are our nation’s pride and the architects of our future.
There’s also clearly a realization that the people of Saudi Arabia ought to be doing more than just selling their natural resources.
Our ambition is for the long term. It goes beyond replenishing sources of income that have weakened or preserving what we have already achieved. We are determined to build a thriving country in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and ambitions. Therefore, we will not rest until our nation is a leader in providing opportunities for all through education and training, and high quality services such as employment initiatives, health, housing, and entertainment.
We commit ourselves to providing world-class government services which effectively and efficiently meet the needs of our citizens. Together we will continue building a better country, fulfilling our dream of prosperity and unlocking the talent, potential, and dedication of our young men and women. We will not allow our country ever to be at the mercy of a commodity price volatility or external markets.
We have all the means to achieve our dreams and ambitions. There are no excuses for us to stand still or move backwards.
Our Vision is a strong, thriving, and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunity for all. Our Vision is a tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method. We will welcome qualified individuals from all over the world and will respect those who have come to join our journey and our success.
So I’m generally in agreement with his stated goals for his country. Diversification and good stewardship of wealth is always important and valuable. Having the People gainfully employed, happy and healthy, is critical for any monarch who wants to have a long and peaceful rule with maximum prosperity. I wish him well.
It’s the rest of the country that I’m worried about… When change is too fast, the cultural “gel” breaks, and crisis, or worse, revolution, follows.
This is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. In that case, the Czar was weak and too wedded to old traditional ways. He let the corrupt aristocracy oppress the common people. At the same time, a key radical was put to death in a failed bomb plot. The older brother of Vladimir Lenin. The Czar also lost a war with Japan, leading to much of the society hating him. Lenin took the opportunity to lead that unrest into the downfall of the Czar and 300 years of Romanov rule. I hope the Saudi Crown Prince has read his history. It looks like it. He knows to remove the worst corruption and do things to improve life for the commoner. He just needs to make sure he doesn’t execute the wrong person’s brother… and lose an unpopular war…