This weekend, while we here in the US were focused on the upcoming election and President Trump’s visit to Asia, a powerful drama with vast geopolitical implications played out in Saudi Arabia.
Mohammad bin Salman, the king’s son, is the de facto ruler of the country and has been making increasingly aggressive moves in an attempt to shift Saudi Arabia from its status as an ultraconservative oil-producing nation to a 21st-century manufacturing superpower with social mores to match. In doing so he has greatly perturbed a broad swath of the Saudi elite – many of them his near and distant royal family brethren – as well as the fundamentalist Wahhabi clergy. Continue reading
In the first public criticism of the P5+Iran deal by a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family, Prince Bandar bin Sultan told Lebanon’s Daily Star the deal would allow Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb and would “wreak havoc in the region.” Covered in The Times of London, the prince also told Daily Star, “Saudi Arabia and the Gulf powers are prepared to take military action without American support after the Iran nuclear deal”
Prince Bandar was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 20 years before returning home to run the country’s intelligence service from 2005-2014. While he is no longer a part of the inner ring of Saudi decision-making, the prince is still a very connected member of the ruling family. The prince would not be conducting interviews without the permission of highest authorities; most likely he was asked to to put himself out there by his uncle King Salman. Continue reading