The Coming Fracture Of Saudi Arabia

 

The Bible’s book of Galatians, VI teaches, «as you sow, so shall you reap». And for Saudi Arabia, which has overtly and covertly supported rebellions in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Ethiopia, Philippines, and Lebanon that have led to civil wars and inter-religious strife, the day of reckoning may soon be at hand. The present Saudi king, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, is the last of the sons of the first Saudi king, Abdul Aziz al Saud, who will ever sit on the Saudi throne. After Salman dies, Saudi leadership will pass to a new generation of Saudi royals. But not all the descendants of the first Saudi king are happy about how the future succession may turn out.

Salman named his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, as crown prince after firing his half-brother, Mugrin bin Abdul Aziz, as crown prince after the death of King Abdullah in 2015. For good measure, Salman also named his son, Mohammad bin Salman, who is little-known outside the kingdom, as deputy prime minister. The 30-year old Mohammad bin Salman is seen by some as the eventual crown prince after King Salman figures out some way to ease Mohammad bin Nayef, the Interior Minister and close friend of the United States, out of the position of heir apparent to the throne.

More and more power has been concentrated into Mohammad bin Salman’s hands, including control over the Defense Ministry, the Council of Economy and Development, and the Saudi government-owned Arabian-American oil company (ARAMCO). The deputy crown prince and defense minister is the architect of Saudi Arabia’s genocidal military campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen and continued Saudi support for jihadist guerrillas in Syria and Iraq, as well as military support for the Wahhabist royal regime in Bahrain in its bloody suppression of the Shi’a Muslim majority population. Mohammad bin Salman is also the major force in Saudi Arabia seeking a military confrontation with Iran.

There is a schism within the Saudi royal family that has created a real-life «Game of Thrones» within the kingdom. The first Saudi king had between 37 and 44 sons from a harem of 22 wives. One of these sons, 85-year old Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, also known as the «Red Prince» for his support for a national constitution and Western-style rule of law separated from Muslim sharia law, is suspicious about the concentration of power in the hands of Salman’s family, which comes at the expense of the other princes with a political claim inside the monarchy. Prince Talal is not alone.

Power in Saudi Arabia has generally resided with the seven sons of King Abdulaziz and Hassa bin Ahmed, which include present King Salman. These sons are commonly known as the «Sudairi Seven». They included the late King Fahd; the late Crown Princes Sultan and Nayef; the former deputy defense ministers Abdul Rahman and Turki and Interior Minister Ahmed, all removed from succession; and King Salman. In addition to the families of the other sons of the Saudi founder, the families of the «Sudairi Six», minus Salman’s family, are intensely jealous of the power being conveyed to deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. When Salman dies, many observers of secretive Saudi royal politics expect to see a succession battle that might even result in a royal civil war.

And a civil war among competing Saudi royals can easily become one between various Saudi regions. Thus, the fracturing of Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen brought about by Saudi adventurism may come back to haunt the Saudis in a major way.

The Saudi government has never wanted to conduct a religious census of the country because it might not like the results, especially in the Eastern Province. In 2009, popular Shi’a leader Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was arrested by Saudi authorities for advancing the idea that the Eastern Region should secede from Saudi Arabia. In 2015, amid an international outcry of condemnation for its action, Saudi Arabia executed al-Nimr. Expect the Eastern Region to the first to openly revolt against the Saudi government in the event the current «Game of Thrones» turns into a «War of Thrones».

The next region to revolt against the monarchy would be Asir, the southwest area that borders northern Yemen, in addition to two neighboring Saudi regions. Asir is the home to a significant minority of Zaidi Muslims. The Saudi regime has been waging a genocidal campaign against the Asir Zaidis’ cousins on the Yemeni side of the border, the Houthi rebels, who are also Zaidis.

Intervention in a Saudi civil war by the United States and NATO would be guaranteed to result in a costly outcome for the West in terms of body bags, sabotage of oil installations, and a multi-billion-dollar financial drain. The probability that Yemen would see the restoral of an independent South Yemen and a battle for control of northern Yemen between Houthis and remnants of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government would entail Western troops also engaging in a protracted civil war in another huge chunk of the Arabian Peninsula. Even the most-warlike members of the Donald Trump administration would likely not want to become mired in a major Arabian imbroglio.

The real battle for control of Saudi Arabia would be mostly centered in Riyadh province, for the keys to the kingdom, or what remains of it, would be found in control of the Saudi capital city of Riyadh. In any event, a Saudi civil war would be best left to the regional actors to sort things out. Any outside intervention would certainly make matters much worse and could develop into a wider regional or world war.

Full article: The Coming Fracture Of Saudi Arabia (OilPrice)

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