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18 January 2015


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Adam Silverman,

My looking glass is broken but one thing is for sure the House of Saud is now under siege. This post is a great start for Colonel Lang’s next War Game if he so chooses.

The Saudis need every petro-dollar of income even with at the lower price to dispense wealth through the tribes to keep the lid on. This is one of the reasons why they kept pumping and why oil crashed so hard.

ISIS knew when the Saudi General in charge of the border was visiting the outpost and killed him and his guards. This does not inspire officer corps confidence in their troops’ élan.

The Shiites know what is in store if ISIS overruns the oil fields. They will fight to protect their families and fortify their towns and villages and will beg Iran to save them. If this was 1990, the USA would come to the rescue but with an Army worn out by constant war for 13 years and a new cold war boiling with Russia, no intervention, and the subsequent cut off of Saudi oil may be inevitable. This is just the prescription for collapse of the world economy into full blown deflation.

Adam L Silverman


The one thing I didn't cover, because it really should be its own post, is that should ISIS drive west across the border and then south into the oil fields it puts Kuwait and Bahrain in play. They will have to move to firm up their own borders. This will likely rekindle the Bahraini Shi'a/Sunni issues that occurred about 18 months or so ago. It will also place pressure on the transshipment point for oil in the Arab Gulf.


Dear sir,
what do you think would be the ISIS strategy in Saudi Arabia (SA)?
I think there would be more and more suicide attacks and such. Is there any possibility of a rebellion within the house of Saud (after all Ibn-Saud did a similar thing when he aligned himself with Wahhabi)?

IMO Russia would not be very helpful for any war to restore the house of saud if it falls because I do not think Russua distinguishes much between pro-Saudi jihadists and anti-saudi jihadists.


In reply to Adam L Silverman 18 January 2015 at 09:55 PM

The Bahraini issues never really went away 'though. So when you say "rekindling" you are using I think the apt phrase - I find myself wondering how likely it is that the Saudis would re-intervene in Bahrain if their own backs were to the wall. I also wonder how well the Bahraini's bought-in Pakistani police and military would perform on their own if Bahrain were to reignite. They weren't particularly impressive the last time.

A wider point is that I've never yet met a Saudi soldier (or officer) who I'd describe as a "soldier". They're more like a gendarmerie than an army. I find myself wondering how well they'd perform against a motivated and disciplined force. Actually I take that back I don't wonder how well they'd perform I wonder how poorly they'd perform.

(I also find it interesting that the British government are about to locate a naval base in Bahrain).


In reply to VietnamVet 18 January 2015 at 09:39 PM

"They will fight to protect their families and fortify their towns and villages"

I think that's very unlikely.

"and will beg Iran to save them".

That's rather more likely but I wonder whether Iran would intervene.

"Iranian Shi'i troops on Saudi's holy soil!!!"

I can think of few slogans so inflammatory as that.



"Should ISIS make a push to take the oil fields, they will attempt to ethno-religiously cleanse the area of Shi'a at the same time. This is going to place Saudi Arabia in a far more difficult position than just having to protect the oil fields and infrastructure. They will have to defend the Shi'a as well."

Would they bother? There also is the possibility of collusion.

Probably Saudi national guard and army attitudes are roughly representative of the country, and that would Wahhabi Islam and Wahhabi chauvinism. The Saudis won't let Shia serve in either force.

Tayyip the Grand was happy to have ISIS pester the Kurds for him.

Why would Saudis chauvinists not be happy to have ISIS massacre a couple thousand Shia ('pour encourager les autres'), and have the rest fleeing over into South Iraq?

That would handily solve two things for them: For one they'd cleanse their troublesome province of potential for Iraninan subversion, and then they would bog down the Iraqis with refugee care. That wall they're building would make sure those Shia won't be coming back easily.

Saudi discrimination of Shia is rather complete, and any similarities to what Jews were subjected to under the Nuremberg must be fully intentional on the part of the Saudis. They are second class status subjects of the Saudi monarch. The Saudi treatment for Isma'ilis isn't any better.

Back in the days, razzias into Shia territory sure were stock and trade of the Ikhwan, the spiritual predecessors of ISIS and the actual predecessors of the Saudi National Guard.

What I am getting at: Saudi Wahhabi chauvinists may just see ISIS as an opportunity to achieve purity, at last.

And while at it, a faction in the Saudi succession crisis may try to get 'outside help' from ISIS. Certainly one of thouse thousands of princes can be counted on to harbour such ideas.

Or just take Pince Bandar, who, being the descendant of a slave, is ruled out as a king of Saudi Arabia. He is on the record of swaggering that he can switch off and on jihadis like ISIS. Probably he'll think so to to the day they chop his head off.




"I find myself wondering how well they'd perform against a motivated and disciplined force. Actually I take that back I don't wonder how well they'd perform I wonder how poorly they'd perform."

Well, given their Wahhabi inclinations they may just as well join ISIS rather than fight.


"I do not think Russia distinguishes much between pro-Saudi jihadists and anti-saudi jihadists. "

And why should they? Prince Bandar in his official function as a Saudi government functionary transmitted to Russia threats to unleash jihadis (read: Chechens) at Sochi if he doesn't support regime change in Syria, and then tried to sweeten the extortion by promising Saudi investment in Russia. Putin reportedly was not amused.


Apparently, the Russians then told Riad just how unamused they were. Bandar was moved out of office not much later.


Even so, considering how much Gulf money flowed into caucasus jihadi groups, the downfall of the House of Saud would for Russia probably only have a clarifying effect.

Pipes' Middle East Forum has offered an interesting reading of Bandar's engagement in Syria:

"The Worst Is Yet to Come

Bandar is in desperate need of scoring a victory in Syria to obscure mounting internal problems in Riyadh, including the split over succession and the rise of pro-Muslim Brotherhood advocates in the kingdom such as Awad al-Qani and his as-Sahwa Current.[21] Thus, recent reports of Bandar's meddling in Iraq's sectarian strife,[22] if true, may indicate a desperate ploy to deflect criticism at home from his Syrian failings. But this feint is also doomed to failure as tilting the balance of power against the Assad regime is not contingent upon destabilizing Baghdad. If anything, it is likely to increase Iraqi Shiite involvement in the Syrian armed conflict against the opponents of the regime. No less alarming, the spread of violence in areas close to Saudi Arabia carries the risk of spillover into the desert kingdom."


Their take is not implausible. Irrepective of Bandar himself, the Saudis who share his view will share this abovementioned desparation. Such desparation would explain why Bandar would make such threats towards Russia. That said, so would boundless arrogance.

Anyway, the Saudis have sort of a tradition of projecting outward their internal trouble. ISIS could be the latest attempt in that direction.

Things that can't go forever won't.


"If this was 1990, the USA would come to the rescue"

I can't see the US coming to the rescue of Saudi Shia, not even with the Genocide chick around. After all, she is remarkably unconcerned with ISIS butchery and ethnic cleansing aimed at Christians, Kurds, Shia, Alawites in Syria. R2P is all nice and well and good talk but US policy still is something different.

Then throw in Obama's leadership from behind that gave actors like Qatar, Saudia Arabia, Turkey the UK and France chancs to cause mischief. Even so, US policy would have just been as dysfunctional wih more direct US 'leadership'.

Direct US leadership (i.e style) cannot overcome the problem of dysfunctional policy (substance).

IMO the underlying problem hat bedevils the US is that US policy that still appears to be aimed at 'breaking the Shia crescend', i.e. of undermining Iran, Assad and Hezbollah (so that the dominoes may fall ... and Israel finally achieves full freedom of action).

That is remarkable, since in my reading 'breaking the Schia crescend' is an Israeli policy interest and not an American one, since neither Assad nor Hezbollah has a current quarrel with the US.

As a result of insisting on this policy, the US has the problem of pursuing irrecponcilable policy goals in the same place simultaneously:

That is most obvious by them being against Assad and his main opposition at the same time, searching forever in vain for an army of unicorns to constitute a credible third force.

In Iraq, the US can't like the Shia government at all, they don't like that they are allied with Iran, and yet they can't have ISIS win. However, thr price of helping the Shia is essentially putting down the Sunni, which is precisely what is fuelling Sunni support or at least toleration of for ISIS.

Etc pp.

Babak Makkinejad

I am still waiting for EU to break with US ...

The policy of breaking Shia Crescent is the Pan-NATO policy.


... fight them.

Babak Makkinejad


To this must be added the fact that Saudi Arabia, within its Sunni population, is also quite heterogeneous. There are different madhabs there and no national or religious unity exists among the inhabitants.



The official mathhab in SA is Hanbali. There are foreign workers i the country who adhere to other mathahib but the they are powerless. pl



IMO the path to power in SA for IS lies in the cities and towns of the Najd, Hijaz and Asir. These places are ripe for subversion and a pro-IS rebellion there would likely destroy the monarchy. pl

David Habakkuk


‘That is remarkable, since in my reading 'breaking the Schia crescend' is an Israeli policy interest and not an American one, since neither Assad nor Hezbollah has a current quarrel with the US.

‘As a result of insisting on this policy, the US has the problem of pursuing irrecponcilable policy goals in the same place simultaneously:’

I think recent events have demonstrated conclusively that the empowerment of the Israeli Lobby in the United States – and more generally of the Zionist intelligentsia – has been a disaster both for that country and the world.

An interesting example of quite how delusional this intelligentsia can be is provided by an interview given by George Friedman of ‘Stratfor’ on 19 December to the Russian newspaper ‘Kommersant’, the full text of which was published in English a few days ago.

(See http://tinyurl.com/llk6l58 )

In the interview, Friedman explains how the Russian attempt to prevent the United States and its allies fuelling the fires of jihadism by destroying the Syrian government ‘tipped the balance of opinion’ in Washington – paving the way for the ‘most blatant coup in history’ in Ukraine.

It is perhaps unsurprising that one set of predictable results – Crimea splitting off, a civil war in the Donbass, and Ukraine becoming a ‘failed state’ – seems not to concern Friedman at all.

Perhaps more surprising is his apparent inability to grasp that another predictable result has been the – almost certainly irreversible – consolidation of a Chinese-Russian bloc.

As a leading Russian liberal commentator, Dmitri Trenin, assessed the perspective of the Chinese leadership back in October, given present circumstances, Russia has nowhere to turn but to them: ‘Exit Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok; enter Greater Asia from Shanghai to St. Petersburg.’

(See http://tinyurl.com/kojfgeq )

Babak Makkinejad

Per Confucius; The first step in restoring Order in a Realm is by calling things with their true names.

That is, names that are reflective of the nature of things.

You cannot fight nouns.

As long as we do not acknowledge that we are in a multi-religious war we cannot be making any changes; in my opinion.

Yes, Castellio - I know you are disagreeing with me.

Yes VietnamVet and Charles I, I know you do too diagree - but I do not think that the evil financiers, capitalists, and arms-merchants in US and EU are instigators of the current wars.

William R. Cumming

Great post and comments! Thanks Dr. Silverman and ALL! There are some really really tough choices facing the World's leadership right now. So for the Cumming quick and dirty world view se as flows. All errors in thinking my own as always.

First, the USA! President Obama is now largely irrelevant IMO. Two vetoes in 6 years and his only real weapon left. The critical numbers dominating Washington Now and until January 20th 2017, 146 and 32. These are votes the President needs to defend his veto in House and Senate.

Second. S.A. is pondering the implications of vast energy resources suddenly on-line in USA and impact on the S.A. arrangement to have S.A. defend the dollar and USA defend the Monarchy in S.A.

Third! Russia. Footnote Russia has signed agreement to fund, build, and operate 8 new power reactors for Iran over next 25 years. Putin is expert in energy issues and policies and he still has vast popular support. But perhaps sand running out in his time machine. Agreements with China on energy huge but both sides know that nothing is forever.

Fourth, China! Playing its cards close to its vest Chinese will continue to ride the tiger of popular discontent. Chinese FP seeks stability but unpredictable. And in MENA energy circles, especially Iraq. China is the essential player, not the EU or USA!

Fifth, the EU! Citizens of the EU now understand their CAFE SOCIETY HAS BEEN AND WILL BE DESTROYED BY ISLAM RADICAL OR NOT! This will not be pretty as the world experts on ETHNIC AND CULTURAL CLEANSING GET TO WORK! Yes, it can happen again. Could be wrong and hoping so but probably not. The Ukraine again the victim of being a sideshow.

And did you know oligarchs rule in Kurdistan?

Charles I

Its also likely to increase direct Israeli involvement in the Syrian war(s) bringing then into more direct combat with on Hezbullah and Iran as the plots thicken.

Spotted this today.


Charles I

Israel is already fighting Hezbullah and Iran in Syria. Will they fight for the House of Saud?


Yes, take Riyadh and all the other stuff (oil fields, Mecca and Medina) will come with it. Then Sunni Islam has the dilemma, Is the Caliphate legitimate or not?

Charles I

And a lot of the Chechens threatened to be sent to Sochi are in fact now in situ fighting for ISIS, perhaps pressing their Saudi patrons.

Charles I

I don't necessarily believe they are the instigators - all conflicts seeming pretty local at heart to me - but they are mighty and soulless practitioners of their respective arts, that flourish best, in the age of electronic Capital, in ignorance, crisis and chaos


"...I do not think that the evil financiers, capitalists, and arms-merchants in US and EU are instigators of the current wars."

You are correct, it is the Conspiratorial Conquerors Club (University of Chicago chapter). The others provide assistance through their avarice and vanity.


VV, my take is, come hell or high water, exhaustion, no money, whatever, the US will throw down and defend them. (dem oil fields back home, to coin an old song)

Charles I

I agree redrawing Sykes-Picot in the current Globalization NWO GWOT fallout is a local affair and not a conspiracy. Tho even more about culture and geography than religion per se, which in one sense overlays the locals like the weather, and imho is not really what they are fighting about, its what they talk about.

They are fighting about the eternal suspects - power, borders, money, tribalism, nationalism, resources, social status, women, fear and resentment, even in the paradigms of Iran, the Caliphate or the Jewish State.

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