Analysis by Mahmoud Monshipouri, with a foreword by NSS staff
Why does New Silk Strategies focus so much on Saudi Arabia? Simply because that country is seen by many Western experts to hold the destiny of the US in its hands, due to the petrodollar agreement whereby the Saudi royal family agrees to charge only US dollars for their oil and to invest the proceeds in US sovereign bonds (which they are becoming increasingly unable to do as a result of low oil prices) in exchange for the US “protecting the royal family” (dictators) and their “oil fields.” In Vahan Bogdasarian’s 3-part series “Making Saudi Arabia great again” (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), that author theorizes, based on the outcomes of US-waged wars, that the actual agreement was never fully disclosed to the public and that the terms thereof go much further than this, committing the US to unspeakable actions.
In response to our last posting, Saudi domination of the Middle East, a skeptical reader wrote that it would be impossible for Saudi Arabia to dominate the Middle East because its population is too small. We do not believe he read the article. Isn’t this characteristic of the Western world today? Of humanity? We are quick to promote our own ideas and conclusions but hesitant to do enough research to justify them. We cherish our ideas and consider them sacred, but we despise research that might challenge them. Yet research practices that consistently support the researchers’ expectations are worse than worthless. They are dangerous.
Imagine what might happen if we did the opposite, i.e., despised our own opinions and cherished research conducted to test – not to corroborate – them.
We invited that skeptical reader to post his opinion on the forum so that we could all discuss his idea. Perhaps he will do so.
Dr. Monshipouri mentions, in the below article, 3 problems that threaten Saudi Arabia’s stability. We have written about these before.
Economic troubles, low oil prices
Petrodollar in trouble
Social unrest in the Saudi Kingdom
Making Saudi Arabia great again
Fear of turmoil prompts huge Saudi arms purchase
Finally, why we called Saudi Arabia the Deep State, simply because the US has given it all the power, including the power to blackmail the US, and because the US always supports the kingdom and its whims:
The Saudis are the deep state
However, evidence that the Saud family’s days are numbered is mounting. If the country goes bankrupt, or if the streets of Riyadh erupt, or if internal intrigue tears the House of Saud apart, or if any of several possible scenarios should unfold that destroy nations, then monetary “experts” expect the US dollar would also eventually fall. Whether this is so or not depends on how competent these people are – that is, whether their reasoning is sound, and perhaps on whether the US government can at some point soon enough supplant money printing (quantitative easing), debt accumulation, extravagant and senseless war making, excessive leverage, stock and real estate bubble blowing and assorted fraudulent practices aimed at deceiving investors and citizens in general, with sound economic practices that encourage manufacturing and trade. So far the children who run Wall Street and the Washington government have no interest in sound practice. It would be disarmingly simple to imitate the sound, sober principles of thrift, hard work, manufacturing, creative innovation and trade of the kind that produce annual growth in China, Russia and the BRICS countries.
There are several ingredients missing in the US that would lead to success, but perhaps the most important one is a populace that demands economic soundness and an end to the senseless wars that the US invariably loses and that bring misery to the countries in which they are waged.
President Donald Trump’s offer to sell $400 billion worth of military hardware to this backward, warlike dictatorship with its barbaric and intolerant religion indicates that he believes in the narrative that the Saudis hold the key to the US dollar and hence to the US economy, and that there is no other way. As long as he and the rest of Washington and Wall Street persist in refraining from sound economic policies, he may be right. And can sound thinking ever come from an unsound mind?
That is the question we face today, not who is smartest or who is the best deal maker or is supported by the rich megachurches.
But there is nothing preventing the US power elites all from returning to sound thinking and practice and making America happy again. And couldn’t that make the rest of the world happy as well?
Yet down deep we all know there is something preventing them from this. And something tells us that that something is not material but spiritual. We will return to this discussion later on.
Dr. Monshipouri’s analysis follows.
The new power shake-up in Saudi Arabia
From Tehran Times
June 28, 2017
The Saudi Arabia’s succession battle took a new turn on June 21, 2017, when Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was elevated to a higher status, namely, the crown prince. In a series of royal decrees, King Salman ousted his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince and named his son Mohammed bin Salman as next in line of succession to the throne. The new crown prince’s rise to power indicates a dramatic reordering of the Kingdom’s power structure.
The removal of Mohammed bin Nayef has presented new uncertainty for the West. Nayef has been known in the West as a key Saudi security partner in a crackdown against al-Qaeda especially since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Having survived four assassination attempts, Nayef became permanently if partially ill because of one of those attacks conducted by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber in 2009.
This significant reshuffling has pushed Prince Mohammed and his so-called “Vision 2030” plan to the forefront of Kingdom’s political stage. Exactly where this vision takes Saudi Arabia in the future remains open to debate. Also uncertain is how far the new generation of young leaders in Riyadh will go to change the country’s welfare state economy by restructuring its oil-dependent economy in the wake of slump in oil prices and persistent ultra-conservative cultural pressures. What is certain, however, is that Prince Mohammed’s promotion to power comes at a difficult time, when the entire Middle East and North Africa region faces daunting challenges and the Saudi Arabia itself encounters numerous internal problems, ranging from low oil prices to a substantial increase in the size of younger cohorts of unemployed who are angry, vocal, and eager for social change. The lingering civil war in Yemen, which has tied down Saudis’ hands in an unwinnable crisis next door, has also presented new problems to the Saudis leadership.
“The lingering civil war in Yemen, which has tied down Saudis’ hands in an unwinnable crisis next door, has also presented new problems to the Saudis leadership.”Saudi airstrikes have irreparably demolished Yemen’s already inadequate and dilapidated infrastructure, leaving the country on the brink of famine, starvation, and epidemics such as cholera. The ensuing humanitarian crisis in Yemen has significantly undermined Saudi Arabia’s image both in the region and on the global scene, while also strengthening the resolve of a generation of young Yemenis to violently resist the Saudi military intervention in their country.
Perhaps most significantly of all, the prospect of a young prince—to become the king in not-too-distant future—with the potential to rule the country for decades has now become real. Such an eventuality carries worrisome implications. Consider, for example, the recent Saudis’ ill-fated policy of isolating Qatar following the accusation that Doha has kept financing extremist groups—a policy with which many of the region’s Arab countries, as well as the U.S. State Department, fundamentally differ. In fact, the U.S. State Department officials have pointed out that many Arab countries of the Persian Gulf allow funding to groups and organizations that foster extremism or underwrite terrorism. “Saudi Arabia, for instance, has long underwritten mosques around the world that teach a stark form of Islam strongly associated with extremism” (The New York Times, June 21, 2017:A13).
“The ensuing humanitarian crisis in Yemen has significantly undermined Saudi Arabia’s image both in the region and on the global scene.”Given that Qatar is an important military partner of the United States and home to the largest U.S. air base in the region, the boycott of Qatar has wreaked havoc on the region and intensified further divisions there. The control of the House of Saud by young and aggressive princes bodes ill for a country that is consumed by taking a hawkish stance toward Iran and yet at the same time claiming to lead the campaign against Sunni extremists, including Daesh. The Trump administration’s unbridled support for the new prince is likely to invite further controversy and discord in the coming months and years.
To successfully fight against Sunni militants linked to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Daesh—not to mention ending civil wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen—the United States needs regional stability, calm, and cooperation. That said, for both the United States and Saudi Arabia the priority, at least for now, seems to be not to frontally confront al-Qaeda and/or Daesh, but rather to fend off Iran’s pervasive influence in the region. Such urgency is fundamentally misplaced, for a strategy that allows for the simultaneous isolation of Iran and confrontation with al-Qaeda and/or Daesh makes little or no sense.
Mahmood Monshipouri, Ph.D., is teaching Middle Eastern Politics at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley. He is the editor, most recently, of Information Politics, Protests, and Human Rights in the Digital Age (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).