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Author Topic: Saudi Arabia & the Arabian Peninsula  (Read 22615 times)
G M
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« Reply #100 on: April 20, 2016, 10:01:22 PM »

Actually, if we were to seriously produce oil like we have the potential to do, their usefulness is seriously reduced.


Asked and answered:

Frankly I am not so clear as to why we need to kiss up to the Saudis. ...

... Though we would all prefer them to Iran. [and ISIS and al Qaida and Boko Haram etc.]

Take it one step further, some of the 'moderate' Arab states will soon be allies of Israel, because Israel never was a threat to them and the common enemies Iran, ISIS etc. are.

The Kingdom is a strange place but they are our strategic ally.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #101 on: April 28, 2016, 10:23:39 AM »

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/saudi-arabia-brink-vikram-mansharamani?trk=eml-b2_content_ecosystem_digest-hero-14-null&midToken=AQEM_FYkB3NwIQ&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=1uDiFxsOzlN7c1
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DougMacG
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« Reply #102 on: May 03, 2016, 12:15:35 PM »

My former customer, Saudi builder Binladin, reportedly cuts 50,000 jobs.

Construction company Saudi Binladin Group has laid off 50,000 staff, a newspaper reported on Friday, as pressure on the industry rises amid government spending cuts to survive an era of cheap oil.

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/30/saudi-builder-binladin-reportedly-cuts-50000-jobs-as-government-cuts-bite.html

(Can't really say no relation to the famous al Qaida leader.)

It's not only North Dakota feeling the squeeze.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #103 on: May 20, 2016, 11:28:07 AM »

Forecast

    Although Islamic State-related attacks in Saudi Arabia have increased over the past year, strikes against hard targets still appear to be out of reach.
    For al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the end of a more than one-year unofficial truce with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen puts Saudi targets back in the crosshairs.
    Saudi authorities may struggle to maintain control of the jihadist threat as Islamic State fighters return from Syria and Iraq with more advanced skills.

Analysis

Jihadism has deep roots in Saudi Arabia, the second-largest source of foreign militants in Iraq and Syria since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. Since the mid-2000s, Saudi security forces have contained the jihadist threat in the kingdom, aware of the economic and security dangers it could pose if left unchecked. But in the past year, Islamic State activity in Saudi Arabia — and a recent series of raids against alleged militants — has raised fears that the threat may be growing beyond authorities' control.

Saudi Jihadism: A Chronology

The jihadist threat in Saudi Arabia is nothing new. In mid-2002, al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia launched a campaign of attacks in the country against both foreigners and the Saudi government. Saudi authorities eventually dismantled the group, forcing its members to flee the country. Many relocated to Yemen, where they helped to found al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Aside from a failed 2006 assault on the Abqaiq oil collection and processing facility, an amateurish attack in 2007 that killed three French citizens, and a foiled assassination attempt against Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2009, Saudi Arabia has been eerily quiet. But the calm was shattered in 2015 when militants associated with the Islamic State began bombing mosques in Saudi Arabia's restive Eastern Province in an effort to inflame sectarian tensions in the kingdom.

Before long, the attacks spread beyond Eastern Province and Shiite targets. After a series of raids in Taif in early July 2015, Saudi officials stopped a man wearing a suicide vest at a roadblock in Riyadh on July 16. To avoid capture, the man detonated his device, setting off a government crackdown that led to the arrest of over 400 alleged Islamic State supporters within two days.

The following month, a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a mosque in Abha, a city in western Saudi Arabia. The attack killed 15 worshippers, including 10 members of a special Saudi state security unit, and wounded many others. Since then, three other attacks against Shiite mosques in Eastern Province have occurred, along with a handful of small bombings in Riyadh and several assassinations of police and security officers. In addition, a number of raids against Islamic State members have been conducted in Riyadh, Dammam and Asir.

A raid outside Mecca on May 5 sparked a firefight that left four Islamic State fighters dead. Saudi security forces fatally shot two of them — one of whom had been named a suspect in the Abha mosque bombing — and the remaining two detonated suicide bombs to avoid capture. The same day, two other Islamic State members were allegedly arrested in Jeddah. Three days later, two gunmen killed a security officer who thwarted their attempted attack on a police station outside Taif.
A New Generation

These attacks differ from al Qaeda's operations in the early 2000s, which targeted foreigners and employed large vehicle bombs. Al Qaeda's Saudi branch understood the importance of expatriates to the Saudi economy and sought to cripple it by driving them and their families out of the country. Al Qaeda's campaign included assassinations, armed assaults on expatriate housing compounds and even an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah. In April 2004, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning, advising U.S. citizens to defer travel to the country, and ordered all nonessential diplomatic and consular staff to leave Saudi Arabia.

The threat environment could change even more as Islamic State fighters return from Iraq and Syria, bringing with them experience gained on the battlefield. Like the previous generation of al Qaeda operatives in the kingdom, the Islamic State fighters could use their honed skills to conduct more complex and strategic attacks. Both groups have a history of attacking tourist attractions in Egypt and Tunisia to undermine those nations' economies. A more sophisticated Islamic State campaign might echo previous al Qaeda initiatives, targeting expatriates to impair the Saudi economy.

Don't Forget al Qaeda

In addition to the growing Islamic State menace, Saudi Arabia faces a renewed threat from AQAP. Following the March 2015 Saudi-led intervention in Yemen's civil war, al Qaeda and the Saudi coalition reached an unofficial truce: The Saudi coalition would refrain from attacking the group in exchange for the jihadists' cooperation in fighting Houthi forces and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. AQAP benefited greatly from this arrangement, seizing the opportunity afforded by the chaos to snatch up large quantities of money, weapons and manpower while it controlled Mukalla. Despite losing several key leaders to U.S. airstrikes, the group is now arguably stronger in terms of men and resources than it has ever been.

But the truce fell apart on April 25. Coalition forces entered Mukalla after AQAP withdrew to avoid heavy casualties. As a result, the group will likely begin to attack coalition forces. Furthermore, it could draw on its increased might to relaunch efforts to export terrorism to Saudi Arabia. Since Saudis have always constituted an important component of AQAP, the group could try to use its ties in the kingdom to facilitate new attacks.

Despite the surge in jihadist activity in Saudi Arabia over the past year, there is currently no sign that Saudi authorities will lose control of the threat. Nonetheless, potential targets in the kingdom must practice heightened awareness as they look for signs of change in the jihadist threat, such as attacks on oil infrastructure or expatriates, the use of larger and more sophisticated explosive devices, or increased surveillance on possible attack sites.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #104 on: May 20, 2016, 07:49:42 PM »

second post


18WednesdayMAY 2016

POSTED BY MISHGEA | May 18, 2016 11:33:21 | ECONOMICS
≈ 28 COMMENTS

Liquidity Crunch or Worse

Saudi Arabia burnt through its reserves faster than anyone thought.

In signs of a huge liquidity crunch, at best, the country has delayed paying contractors and now considers paying them in IOUs and tradable bonds.
In retrospect, the Saudi threat to dump US assets looks more ridiculous than ever.

Please consider Saudi Arabia Considers Paying Contractors With IOUs.

Saudi Arabia has told banks in the country that it is considering giving contractors IOUs to settle some outstanding bills, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.  A projected budget deficit this year is prompting the government to weigh alternatives to limit spending. Contractors would receive bond-like instruments to cover the amount they are owed by the state which they could hold until maturity or sell on to banks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Contractors have received some payments from the government in cash and the rest could come in “I-owe-you” notes, the people said.
The government started delaying payments last year to prevent the budget deficit from exceeding $100 billion after the oil slump.

Beyond a Liquidity Crisis

Deficits don’t shrink if you delay paying the bills. Deficits arose because more money was spent than collected.  On May 17, the Senate Passed a Bill Allowing 911 Victims to Sue Saudi Arabia.  Obama threatens a veto. Meanwhile, Saudi threatens to dump $750 billion in U.S. securities and other American assets if the bill becomes law.

Does Saudi Arabia even have $750 billion. Color me skeptical.

Saudi Arabia’s bluff that it would sell US assets if the Obama signed the bill seems more ridiculous than ever.

For discussion of Saudi involvement in 911 and the alleged dumping threat please see Understanding the Saudi, Chinese “Economic Nuclear War” Threat; Saudi 911 Round-Up.

For discussion of Saudi Treasury holdings, please see Treasury Department Finally Discloses Saudi Treasury Holdings – Incorrectly?

There is no “nuclear” economic threat by Saudi Arabia or China as some have proclaimed.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
 
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ccp
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« Reply #105 on: September 22, 2016, 06:39:26 PM »

I don't at this point, agree.  This opens up a whole can of worms. This could very well come back to bite us.   Sounds like a big money grab to me.

 My mind could be changed possibly:

https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/09/obama-is-defending-the-saudi-government-agains-911-families

And families were already compensated from donations:

http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/06/news/economy/911_compensation_fund/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #106 on: September 22, 2016, 09:01:27 PM »

Please post in the Legal Issues in the War on Islamic Fascism thread as well.

FWIW, at present, I lean towards opposing this bill.
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ccp
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« Reply #107 on: September 28, 2016, 08:27:21 PM »

One would think this strategy comes from the LEFT.  Instead this time it is driven by the Right in an ass backwards way to spite Obama.  I dunno .

Apart that this sets a precedent that will be used against us Saudi Arabia will retaliate:

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/09/28/saudis-allies-warn-us-retaliation-911-bill/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #108 on: October 20, 2016, 12:20:22 PM »

Good morning. As it contemplates an initial public offering of its state-run oil company, Saudi Arabia launched the sale of $17.5 billion of debt Wednesday, people familiar with the situation told the Journal, in what would mark the largest emerging-market bond issue ever. It is the kingdom’s first international bond sale, a bid to support a sweeping effort to keep its economy afloat as oil income dwindles.
The sale is the latest example of a Persian Gulf state turning to international markets to offset declining oil revenues. Other oil exporters from the Gulf region raised $20 billion in total through international bond issues earlier this year. The issue would exceed Argentina’s $16.5 billion debt sale as the biggest from an emerging-market economy. For better or worse, there are $67 billion in orders for the debt, which seems to indicate a certain comfort level at nearly four times oversubscribed. The global plunge in oil prices has cast doubt about investor demand for shares in Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest player.

 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #109 on: February 17, 2017, 12:19:03 AM »

http://www.dailywire.com/news/13535/islamophobic-saudi-arabia-deports-40000-muslim-michael-qazvini?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=102516-podcast&utm_campaign=beingconservative
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #110 on: May 19, 2017, 08:36:56 AM »


By Karen Elliott House
May 18, 2017 7:10 p.m. ET
12 COMMENTS

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

President Trump will receive an effusive welcome here from his royal hosts determined to underscore that once again Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are close allies. Barack Obama favored Iran, but that’s over. King Salman, 81, is gathering 50 Islamic leaders to meet Mr. Trump. This unprecedented assembly is intended to show not only that Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Islamic world but that Muslim leaders support the U.S. against Islamic State terrorists.

While the elderly monarch is host, the indisputable power behind the throne is his young son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, 31. He is orchestrating a two-day summit spectacular that will star Donald Trump and the new face of Saudi Arabia—a country now enjoying once-forbidden entertainment and a much larger role for women, who may be allowed to drive as early as this summer. Conservatives seethe but can’t block change.

The young prince and the president have much in common. Both are outsiders, brash, unorthodox and new to politics. Each faces strong opposition at home. Both seek to spur economic growth by reducing the role of government. And each is fighting orthodoxy: MBS, as the prince is known, wants to curb the role of religion and tradition, which inhibit modernization, while Mr. Trump battles leftist orthodoxy and political correctness. Both are smart marketers.

Mr. Trump’s presence is an opportunity for the prince to show off his modernization effort. An extravaganza featuring something for everyone—the Harlem Globetrotters taking on a Saudi basketball team, car races, country singer Toby Keith —is intended to convince Americans there is a new, open Saudi Arabia and Saudis that mixing cultures and sexes isn’t evil.

How can the son of a king be an outsider? In a culture that reveres age, especially among the royal family’s thousands of princes, the appointment last year of a young man who isn’t a senior prince, nor even his father’s eldest son, came as a shock. Like Mr. Trump, Mohammed bin Salman faces a “resistance” in the form of determined opponents among his royal relatives. Social media has created a “virtual opposition” by enabling disgruntled citizens to express their views.

So both the prince and the president seek success to bolster their leadership, easier to achieve in diplomacy than domestic affairs. Given the badly frayed state of U.S.-Saudi relations, Mr. Trump is guaranteed a win, at least with Saudis, because he isn’t Barack Obama. The president has further pleased Riyadh by making this his first stop on his first foreign trip. No president has ever put Saudi Arabia first so visibly.

But the Saudis want concrete support once Air Force One lifts off for Israel, Rome and then a NATO summit in Brussels. Both countries see Iran as a threat, but the U.S. president demands more burden-sharing from allies. So the prince, who also is defense minister, is said to be ready to invite the U.S. military back to Saudi bases vacated in 2003 in the face of opposition to foreign troops in the land of the two holy mosques. Riyadh is fighting a costly war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and the prince wants more U.S. support.

If the leaders agree to return the U.S. military here, it would mark a significant new commitment to Saudi Arabia’s defense—and surely be seen by Iran as a provocation. It would be a clear triumph for both leaders—and a repudiation of Mr. Obama’s exhortation that Saudi Arabia “share the neighborhood” with Iran.

The U.S. wants to curb Iranian expansion but may be cautious about new entanglements as Saudi-Iranian tensions are rising. Prince Mohammad recently slammed the door on any dialogue with Iran, insisting that Tehran seeks domination of the Muslim world. “We know we are a major target,” he said. “We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia, but we will work so the battle is there.” Iran immediately warned that if Riyadh persisted with “such stupidity,” nothing will be “left in Saudi Arabia except Mecca and Medina.”

Beyond bases and Islamic nation support in the fight against ISIS terrorists, King Salman seeks to tie the House of Saud to the Trump family. The king has just named another of his sons, Khalid, 29, a former fighter pilot, as ambassador to the U.S. Sending his son to Washington is a very personal gesture to a president with family working in the White House.

Prince Mohammad faces much tougher domestic challenges than President Trump does. The prince has to transform an economy and society long addicted to oil revenues, which have collapsed, and persuade coddled Saudis they must work. Mr. Trump is trying to raise U.S. GDP growth to 3% from 1%; Saudi Arabia has no growth. Mr. Trump seeks to spur U.S. energy production, while the prince is suppressing Saudi production to stabilize prices, in part weakened by growth in U.S. oil production. The U.S. got good news that unemployment is down to 4.4%. Saudi unemployment officially is 11%, but among the 70% of Saudis under 30 the true figure is triple that.

Mr. Trump, for all the angry opposition at home, is more secure than the deputy crown prince. Should his father die, a new king may remove Mohammad bin Salman. Some Saudis believe King Salman will promote MBS to crown prince and thus next in line to be king—but he hasn’t yet done so.

Regardless of these uncertainties, Mohammed bin Salman is confidently pushing ahead with ambitious plans to transform Saudi Arabia. Like Mr. Trump, the prince needs some clear wins over the next several years—an end to the costly Yemen war; successful privatization of Aramco, the national oil company, and other government companies set for public sale. He must persuade skeptical citizens that his plans will in coming years provide Saudis a prosperous life without dependence on oil.

Ms. House, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, is the author of “On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future” ( Knopf, 2012).
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #111 on: May 19, 2017, 09:33:41 AM »

second post

https://clarionproject.org/5-things-trump-saudi-arabia/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #112 on: May 24, 2017, 11:38:04 AM »

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-opec-plans-oil-cuts-into-2018-aramcos-ipo-1495567353?mod=e2tw
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #113 on: May 25, 2017, 02:16:38 PM »

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html
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ccp
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« Reply #114 on: May 25, 2017, 04:10:54 PM »

I am not sure I disagree with Rand on this one.  I understand the bolstering up of Saud against Iran and *maybe * but on the other hand Osama Bin Ladin was a Saudi.  Why would not believe the arms will simply get siphoned to our enemies?  I know the Sauds showed off a building with 200 computers to combat terror but...........

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/senators-trump-arms-sale/2017/05/25/id/792425/

I would sign off on this if Netanyahu feels it is a good idea.  Just  my take .
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #115 on: May 25, 2017, 04:34:53 PM »

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-aim-saudi-arabia_b_5748744.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #116 on: June 05, 2017, 01:06:01 AM »

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40155829
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #117 on: June 05, 2017, 12:25:44 PM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/05/world/middleeast/qatar-saudi-arabia-egypt-bahrain-united-arab-emirates.html?emc=edit_ta_20170605&nl=top-stories&nlid=49641193&ref=cta&_r=0

also see

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/05/saudi-arabia-allies-break-diplomatic-ties-qatar-links-terror/

from 2016

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN12Z2SL
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #118 on: June 05, 2017, 02:35:03 PM »

third post

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/home-office-terrorist-funding-report-saudia-arabia-focus-not-publish-conservatives-government-a7766381.html
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G M
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« Reply #119 on: June 05, 2017, 02:38:37 PM »


We are long part the point where it is time to recognize that the Saudis are just ISIS with better P.R.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #120 on: June 06, 2017, 03:43:30 PM »

I have always said that a key to understanding Trump is in his life experience with "The Apprentice".  The values of the show are quite Machiavellian.

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/336555-pentagon-cant-square-trump-comments-on-qatar
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #121 on: June 21, 2017, 01:01:55 PM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/21/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman.html?emc=edit_na_20170621&nl=breaking-news&nlid=49641193&ref=cta
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« Reply #122 on: June 23, 2017, 10:46:03 AM »

 Saudi Arabia's 'Mr. Everything' Is Now Crown Prince, Too



After months of speculation and palace intrigue, Saudi King Salman shook up the kingdom's line of succession on June 21 by naming his powerful son, Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince and removing all titles from Mohammed bin Nayef, the former crown prince. This is the second time Salman has overhauled the line of succession and the Saudi government since taking the throne in January 2015. The move is a controversial one, considering it cuts large and powerful segments of the royal family out of the succession plan. And should the young bin Salman ascend the throne, it could mean Saudi Arabia will be ruled for six decades by father and son.

Today's announcement has several important implications. But none is as important as the amount of trust being placed in bin Salman, who has already amassed enough power to be dubbed "Mr. Everything" by some Western governments. As bin Salman has concentrated his power, bin Nayef has been increasingly sidelined. Today's reshuffle will only remove him from power even further, ousting him from his position at the head of the Interior Ministry and from all other leadership roles.
The Next King

If bin Salman becomes king, he will be the youngest Saudi ruler in modern history, able to potentially preside over decades of policy and reform in the kingdom. The crown prince is known for spearheading the country's economic reform, an agenda he will likely continue to push, and he may well turn his attention to effecting social change as well.

Perhaps more important, bin Salman has a vested interest in trying to solve Saudi Arabia's long-term economic and social challenges, including its overreliance on the oil sector and growing calls for more social liberties. Unlike Saudi leaders who have come before him attempting reform, he doesn't have the luxury of kicking the can down the road; any procrastination would create problems that are his to fix later on.
The Price of Reform

Still, change will come at a price. Any effort to push the boundaries of social reform in the kingdom risks ruffling the feathers of the conservative clerical establishment, which many in the royal family view as the foundation of the House of Saud's legitimacy and support. Many Saudis are firm believers in the conservative social fabric of the country and could resent swift adjustments to social strictures. As a result, any reform must be undertaken carefully while gauging pushback from the public.

In fact, bin Salman already has had to retract some of his suggestions for remedying Saudi Arabia's economic ills: In April, the king reinstated public sector bonuses, seven months after they were eliminated to improve the budget deficit. Popular resistance also prompted Salman to replace the water and electricity minister in April of last year when Saudis protested higher utility prices on Twitter.

Just because bin Salman is now closer to the throne doesn't mean he will have an easier time pushing through his reforms. If the reshuffle has upset other members of the House of Saud — particularly third-generation descendants of King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud who have been completely shut out of the line of succession — they will find ways to hamper the crown prince.

Nevertheless, bin Salman has made a name for himself at home and abroad. Not only has he been instrumental in leading the economic reform called for under the Vision 2030 platform, but he also has made his mark on Saudi Arabia's foreign policy and regional defense strategy in his position as the country's defense minister. He has been particularly instrumental to the kingdom's intervention in Yemen and to its increasingly aggressive stance toward Iran. (Last month he promised to move the fight against Tehran inside Iranian borders.)

Bin Salman has also worked hard to build a close relationship with the United States. But bin Nayef's unseating removes a known partner to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Bin Salman has skillfully portrayed himself as someone who is fully aligned with the United States in fighting terrorism, but he lacks the decade of experience that bin Nayef accumulated in his campaign against al Qaeda. Moreover, Saudi Arabia's intervention in Yemen, which was one of the first moves bin Salman made as defense minister, has proved costly and has become less and less popular. Bin Salman still faces the risk of blowback on that front.

With a long-term vision for reform, bin Salman has quickly risen within the halls of power. In doing so, he joins the ranks of other Gulf Cooperation Council leaders such as his new counterpart, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. But Saudi Arabia's economic and social issues are far more difficult than those facing the United Arab Emirates, where Al Nahyan's role is secure and well established. So although bin Salman is currently next in line for the throne, whether or not he actually becomes king will depend on how well he navigates the challenges of being crown prince — and how well he addresses the kingdom's problems with concrete action.

======================================================================================

 

It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow.

In the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the king is the ultimate decider. On June 21, King Salman implemented a significant decision by shaking up the line of succession to the kingdom's throne with the announcement that his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, would be removed from his role of crown prince in favor of his own son, Mohammed bin Salman. The elevation of his scion capped a two-year period during which Salman handed him successively greater power and more leadership responsibilities. While the shift marks a major change for the succession path, it follows a road the king has long traveled.

Several previous personnel and ministry makeovers since Salman took the throne in January 2015 have emphasized that economic reform is the kingdom's top priority. Amid the first major rounds of government streamlining, the king named bin Salman the head of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, adding to his other official titles such as minister of defense. In April 2016, the massive Vision 2030 economic reform plan was announced, and Mohammed bin Salman has been a public face for reform ever since.

Before he announced the reshuffle at the top, King Salman had already begun gutting the formal and official powers that Mohammed bin Nayef held. Over the previous weekend, the name of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution was changed to simply the Bureau of Public Prosecution, and it was removed from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior, which had been led by bin Nayef before Salman stripped him of all titles. The bureau was instead put under the control of a prosecutor who reports directly to the king. That move was likely driven by two motives. It could be seen as a streamlining driven by economic reform goals, especially since the bureau investigates mainly domestic economic fraud cases (in addition to doing some terrorism investigations). The new crown prince, hoping to guide Saudi Arabia smoothly through economic transformations and being aware of the growing demand among Saudis for transparency, has prioritized anti-corruption policies. But the changes to the Bureau of Public Prosecution clearly played into palace politics as well; any shifting of power, even slight, away from bin Nayef benefitted bin Salman. Other overhauls of Saudi agencies within the past year, including changes implemented in November 2016 and April 2017, reinforced bin Salman's authority within the government, especially on economic and defense matters.

Perhaps the most critical component of the economic reform program that bin Salman is spearheading is the move to put 5 percent of the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco, up for an initial public offering. The sale, expected to bring in between $25 billion and $100 billion, will be the financial engine that helps power the country's economic reform. The money it generates will go into the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which will be used to pay for the country's strategic investments domestically and abroad, underpinning its economic reform, diversification and transformation initiatives.

Bin Salman's economic plans are ambitious — already, the Public Investment Fund has invested in Uber and put $45 billion into the SoftBank-led tech investment fund worth roughly $100 billion that was launched last month. And the key to success is maximizing Saudi Aramco's valuation so the kingdom can reap as much reward as possible from the IPO. State-owned oil companies often fare worse than their private brethren in financial markets because they present political risks, especially given the large contributions they make to the broader national economy. With this in mind, and under bin Salman's leadership, Riyadh has sought to maximize Saudi Aramco's value while reducing its tax burden.

To that end, Riyadh cut the oil company's tax obligation in March from roughly 85 percent to 50 percent. That move increases the company's revenue earnings by 333 percent, which, in theory, should triple the valuation of Saudi Aramco and its stock offering. Outside estimates suggest that this could have pushed the company's valuation to between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion, giving the IPO a value of between $50 billion and $75 billion. However, bin Salman thinks that the worth of the country's crown jewel should top $2 trillion. So Riyadh is planning even more ways to increase it, including tax breaks for the company's heavily subsidized domestic fuel sales.

Though bin Salman has been actively lobbying for the IPO, he has faced internal challenges from allies and members of the royal family who are sensitive to any decisions, such as making a portion of Saudi Aramco public, that could cut their influence or could trim their share of the proceeds. In their eyes, the state-owned company's wealth belongs to the royal family. And beyond tension within the royal family, the crown prince has been butting heads with the Saudi Aramco leadership. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Aramco's executives had briefed the Saudi Cabinet on the potential location of the IPO: The company's leadership wants to go public on the London Stock Exchange, because they see it as the least risky decision. Bin Salman, however, prefers to list the IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

A New York-based IPO listing is indeed a much riskier move and could open up Saudi Aramco's shares to class-action lawsuits and potentially even damages under Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act court cases. Moreover, Saudi Aramco would need to comply with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's rules for oil companies, which require countries to report booked reserves. For the good of the IPO, Saudi Arabia has already allowed third-party reviews of its reserves (which is not an SEC requirement), but the country has long regarded the size, status and cost of its oil reserves as a state secret. The SEC also typically requires oil companies to move reserves into production within five years or remove them. For Riyadh, which intends to take a long-term view on oil production, that would not sit well.

But there are grander plans in the works when it comes to bin Salman's preference for a U.S.-based IPO. In addition to being in charge of economic reforms, bin Salman also holds Saudi Arabia's defense portfolios, and in both areas, his worldview is clearly aligned with Washington's. On the security front, Saudi Arabia has been leaning heavily on U.S. backing for counterterrorism and other initiatives to curtail Iran's influence in the region. This dynamic is playing out in the current Qatar-Gulf Cooperation Council crisis. Meanwhile, on bin Salman's 2016 trip to the United States, he made a raft of deals with U.S. tech companies (including Uber) while visiting Silicon Valley, signaling that he's interested in aligning with the United States economically as well.

To bin Salman, the Saudi Aramco IPO is not only a way to finance Vision 2030, but it is also a way to get closer to the United States, which is why he's pushing for a New York listing. That's a much weightier role for Saudi Aramco than its corporate leadership has seen for it thus far, and it comes with risks the company may not be eager to take. But ever since taking charge of Saudi Arabia's economic agenda, bin Salman has been on an almost uninterrupted ascent. And with his most recent promotion within the Saudi government, there is little to suggest that he will have trouble getting his way with Aramco.
 
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 10:51:13 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #123 on: July 03, 2017, 09:41:19 PM »

A lot of subtleties in this one

The Peril of Saudi Expansion in the Gulf of Aqaba
by Cynthia Farahat
American Thinker
June 26, 2017
http://www.meforum.org/6792/saudi-gulf-of-aqaba
 
Originally published under the title "Gulf of Aqaba Treaty: a Saudi Repudiation of the Camp David Accords."
 
After more than a year of a heated debate, Egypt finally ceded two small Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia, giving KSA control over the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba. These waterways separate the Sinai Peninsula from the Arabian mainland and portions of the coastline are owned by Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Giving ownership of Tiran and Sanafir Islands and control of the gulf and straits to Saudi Arabia is a strategic mistake and a security threat for five reasons.

1) Almost every regime in Saudi Arabia has furthered expansionist, imperialistic agendas. Historically, Saudi rulers have attempted to lead the Muslim Umma (nation) by conquest or political and religious imperialism. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's seizure of power in 2015 wasn't smooth, there were and still are attempts to overthrow him.

The Saudi internal conflict will most likely escalate after King Salman's historic precedent to move the Saudi succession from the house of Abdulaziz ibn al-Saud to the house of Salman. King Salman may believe that asserting his territorial control of Gulf of Aqaba will help him strengthen his domestic position by increasing his regional and international power. Whether the Tiran treaty, and succession coup stunt works or backfires is yet to be seen.

Nearly all Saudi rulers have furthered a religious imperialistic agenda.

2) King Salman has allegedly agreed to a portion of the Camp David Accords, which guarantees Israel unfettered access through the Straits of Tiran. This acquiescence creates a serious catch-22 for the King. While the deal increases King Salman's regional power, an agreement with the Jewish state threatens his domestic authority, because he is bound by Islamic Sunni jurisprudence.

For example, the Saudi view of treaties with Israel was expressed by King Salman supporter and Saudi celebrity Sheikh, Salman al-Ouda. When Mr. al-Ouda was asked about the legitimacy of treaties with Israel, he answered with a Fatwa issued in 1988-1989 and signed by 60 Sunni scholars. It declared jihad against Israel adding, "under no circumstances is a person or an entity to recognize Jewish authority over any fraction of the land of Palestine."

If King Salman were to actually abide by any element of the Camp David Accords, his rule would become illegitimate according to Saudi Arabia's fundamentalist Islamic system. These are the views Saudi rulers indoctrinate their citizens to adopt as the sole legitimate Islamic position towards Israel.

3) According to the Sunni Saudi narrative, suicide bombings against Jews and non-Muslims is a legitimate form of dissent. For example, a member of Saudi Arabia's Supreme Council of Scholars and advisor at the Saudi Royal Court, Abdallah Ibn Man'a, previously stated in an official Fatwa, "The best form of jihad for Allah, is martyrdom in his cause. Whoever dies in such an operation, is a martyr."
 
 
Saudi Arabia's King Salman (left) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, April 8, 2016.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia indoctrinates its security officers into adopting the belief in suicide bombings. For example, former security police officer and current Muslim sheikh Sami bin Khalid Awad el-Hamoud received his Master's degree in Islamic jurisprudence from King SaudUniversity in Riyadh. His thesis was titled, "Suicide Operations: Its Forms and Its Jurisprudence," where he argued that any region governed by non-Muslim laws is a "house of war," where jihad in all its forms should be exercised.

Since Salman has never shown any intention of abandoning Islamic jurisprudence, which is Saudi Arabia's raison d'être, his only solution under Sunni theology would be to officially agree to the accords, but unofficially continue to support militant Islamic activities.

It's puzzling why Egypt and Israel would agree to further associate with King Salman, who was accused by German intelligence of financing terrorism in Pakistan and Bosnia. While Israel is officially granted freedom of passage in the Gulf of Aqaba by the Camp David Accords, there is absolutely no evidence that Salman will abide by the accords or that he would not abuse his power in the Gulf of Aqaba. This would deeply endanger both Egypt and Israel.
 
4) The possibility that King Salman will facilitate a jihadist migration into Sinai, given his history as a terror financier, is not far-fetched. The presence of more jihadists in Sinai would endanger both Egypt and Eilat. Sadly, this scenario is likely given the fact that KSA plans to build a bridge linking Sinai to Arabia. Many have taken KSA's newfound control of the Gulf of Aqaba at face value and celebrated it as a Saudi adoption of part of the Camp David Accords. The treaty should be more accurately viewed as a Saudi repudiation of the accords, given the negative possible outcomes for both Egypt and Israel's security.

A warning about Saudi control of Tiran and Sanafir, was communicated in a 1957 CIA intelligence brief titled, "Prospects of an Armed Clash in the Gulf of Aqaba." The brief warned -- "Saudi Arabia, which controls the east coast of the Straits of Tiran, could conceivably take unilateral action to prevent entry of Israeli or Israeli-bound vessels into the Gulf." The briefing continued, "In the event that Saudi forces were to occupy the islands they might attempt to control shipping through the straits of Tiran from positions on the islands." It's still 1957 in Saudi Arabia, and if Salman and his son are overthrown, the possibility of replacing them with an Iranian friendly option, such as Prince Ahmed bin Abdel Aziz al-Saud, would mean that a Saudi-Iran coalition could be created.

5) Signs of other security concerns caused by the treaty have already begun to manifest. The Muslim Brotherhood's Turkey-based Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) has basically declared jihad in Gulf of Aqaba in an official statement on its official Facebook page. The ERC called upon Egyptians living in the cities overlooking the Red Sea to "struggle to liberate" the islands and the Gulf of Aqaba and treat them as "occupied territories."

Giving ownership of Tiran and Sanafir Islands to Saudi Arabia is a strategic mistake.

In another veiled call for terrorism, the statement also urged citizens to "treat all Saudi companies and institutions, as occupying forces." Not only does this destabilize Egypt's security, more dangerously it can inspire a coup d'état in Egypt. A coup could be launched with the excuse of defending Egyptian land, which may work given President el-Sisi's plummeting popularity after the treaty signing.

The issue of the Red Sea islands is part of a broader and reoccurring question of whether or not the free world should be making deals and treaties with Islamic theocracies. The international community would be well advised to refrain from further official treaties with Sunni and other theocratic nations, until these regimes reform their governments and recognize the modern international laws and treaties, to which they have already committed. Until that time, it is irresponsible to make treaties, which have repeatedly backfired. Saudi control of the Gulf of Aqaba, is almost as dangerous to regional peace as President Barack Obama's Iranian nuclear deal.

Cynthia Farahat is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Maqal.
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« Reply #124 on: July 19, 2017, 05:45:32 AM »

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It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow.

The diplomatic crisis in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has taken another turn. The Washington Post reported Sunday that the U.S. intelligence community had information suggesting the United Arab Emirates arranged a cyberattack on Qatar's state news agency in late May that set the dispute in motion. Unnamed U.S. intelligence officials claimed that Abu Dhabi orchestrated a breach of the Qatar News Agency's website and social media accounts to post erroneous statements from Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani expressing support for Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. The United Arab Emirates, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, then used the false quotes as a pretext to sever diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar. The revelation doubtless will further complicate relations in and beyond the GCC. At the same time, however, it's hardly a surprise.

Though Emirati officials have flatly denied allegations of their involvement, Qatar's leaders have had no trouble believing Abu Dhabi could be behind what they described as a "shameful act of cyber terrorism." The United Arab Emirates, after all, has a long-standing reputation for meddling — along with Saudi Arabia — in Qatar's affairs. Early into their statehood in the 1960s and 1970s, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates quibbled over their territorial boundaries. Riyadh wound up the clear winner in the disputes, but Abu Dhabi benefited as well. Qatar accused the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia more than 30 years later of trying to instigate a countercoup against Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who had recently overthrown his father. When his son, the current emir, then usurped his father in 2014, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh tried to bring the new leader to heel. They limited their relations with Qatar, demanding that Doha change what they considered destabilizing policies. The efforts met with some success, but they also set the stage for the current crisis in the GCC.

In light of its history with Qatar, the United Arab Emirates' alleged involvement in the hacking scandal seems par for the course. Abu Dhabi's deep distrust of Islamist and opposition movements has made it wary of Doha, which it sees as a force for instability in the region. From the United Arab Emirates' perspective, Qatar's support for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Hamas and Hezbollah — as well as the leeway the country gives its media — encourage extremism and subvert order in the region. Abu Dhabi will tolerate only so much, as its past interferences in Doha's affairs have demonstrated.

Of course, pinning down a clear attribution for a cyberattack sometimes proves impossible. A media platform makes an easy target for a skilled hacker, and determining the United Arab Emirates' level of involvement in the the alleged breach will be tricky, to say the least. Though the new intelligence implicates Abu Dhabi as the coordinator of the attack, evidence has yet to surface that it carried out the hack. A third party, for instance a Russian mercenary hacker, may well have committed the intrusion. Russia's potential involvement in the incident would align with Moscow's strategy to destabilize the United States' strategic relationships, this time in the Middle East, and to pit the GCC members against one another.

Either way, the incident will make it next to impossible for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to muster greater U.S. support for their anti-Qatar initiatives. And the irony is that the United States' apparent support for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi's anti-terrorism efforts helped catalyze the crisis in the first place. By focusing on the fight against Islamic extremism during the Riyadh summit in May — just days before the alleged hack — U.S. President Donald Trump may have inadvertently sent Saudi and Emirati leaders the message that they had his backing, no matter what. The Pentagon and the State Department, however, took a more balanced approach to the crisis in deference to the United States' delicate relationship with Qatar, home to one of the largest U.S. military bases in the Middle East. (If the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia decided to run with the White House's seemingly unwavering support despite the rest of the government's hesitation, they weren't the first U.S. allies to do so. The seemingly mixed messages coming out of Washington have created plenty of confusion on the international stage over where the United States stands on issues such as Russia and North Korea.)

Revelations over the hack also stand to change the already shifting relationship between the U.S. intelligence community and that of the United Arab Emirates. The United States depends on its ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ensure regional security, as well as its own national security. The details about the alleged hack won't change that. But the incident will probably damage the trust that Washington and Abu Dhabi share, even aside from the fact that U.S. officials leaked information about the hack to the press.

In the GCC, likewise, the episode has shaken the already battered bonds of trust between the bloc's members. The UAE foreign affairs minister made reference on Monday to a possible "refashioning of the GCC" and said that its annual summit, scheduled for December, is unlikely to occur if the dispute continues. The diverse bloc has endured its share of problems in the past, but the latest upset could leave more damage in its wake than previous crises have. And relations in the GCC are likely to get worse before they get any better, jeopardizing future efforts at economic and security cooperation among the Gulf states.
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