Global Geo-political Series: Is Saudi Arabia's new crown Prince a warmonger?

Dominique Dufresne
Novembre 12, 2017

Robert Jordan, the former corporate lawyer who served as George W. Bush's ambassador in Riyadh, said if Prince Mohammed's anti-corruption campaign is real, "it will add credibility to the Saudi business posture, to its operations, and to the potential IPO of Aramco", the Saudi national oil company. The king had decreed the creation of a powerful new anti-corruption committee, headed by the crown prince, only hours before the committee ordered the arrests. Why should ordinary Saudis have sympathy for the arrested if they have, as alleged, been engaged in massive criminal schemes involving bribery and money laundering?

Saudi Arabia said it has only frozen the bank accounts of individuals and not those of the companies they own or manage, as the kingdom seeks to ease tension among global investors over the crackdown.

Al Tayyar Travel, whose founder Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar has been arrested, rose 2.7pc after plunging 22pc in the previous three days. The question now, for hopeful investors, is whether the Crown Prince follows his corruption crackdown by opening up an economy dominated by plutocrats and royal cronies. The royal family acquiesced and by September the Crown Prince had rounded up and jailed religious and intellectual opponents. The Saudis hope that popular pressure could force him to give priority to butter over guns.

Bin Salman's political consolidation has come coupled with an ambitious programme of social and economic reforms aimed at modernisation the country.

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Iran has denied it was behind the missile launch, rejecting the Saudi and US statements condemning Tehran as "destructive and provocative" and "slanders". Since assuming the post, the new crown prince triggered a bitter power grab within the kingdom and triggered conflicts with many Arab neighbors. Financial sanctions that America imposed on Hizbullah in October will further tighten the screws.

About two-thirds of Yemen's population relies on imported supplies, said the aid groups, which include CARE, Save the Children and Islamic Relief.

A Foreign Ministry source, quoted by state news agency SPA, also called on Saudis not to travel to Lebanon, but without specifying any threat. They're still plenty skeptical of Prince Mohammed and his father the king, who recently visited Moscow with 1,500 retainers, his own carpets, and a golden escalator for his Boeing 747. Instead of following a Western model of modernization and reform, the crown prince has taken the path of China and Russia, where "political transition" means that power is retained by a tiny, very wealthy elite.

Germany will double its aid to UNICEF for Yemen to 20 million euros this year to help deal with looming famine, bringing its total annual aid to Yemen to 70 million, a spokeswoman for the development ministry said on Friday.

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One downside, of course, is more repression, wielded by a headstrong prince cocksure he knows what's best for society. The last three kings have reached the throne aged 61, 80 and 79.

Nobody took the charges at face value.

"Our humanitarian colleagues say that they have heard of health facilities shutting down because they cannot cover the increased fuel costs, and water pumping station have also been affected", Dujarric said.

In September he announced that Saudi women will be given the right to drive.

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A few days earlier the kingdom's Gulf-affairs minister, Thamer al-Sabhan, had promised "astonishing" developments to topple Hizbullah, a Shia militia-cum-political-party that calls the shots in Lebanon. And even though Israel worries about Hizbullah's growing arsenal of rockets and missiles, it will not fight to a Saudi timetable. It has $262.4mn outstanding as of August. "Confrontations will widen with Iran's unchecked expansion", Abdulrahman Al Rashid, a prominent columnist for the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, wrote on Nov 7.

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