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18 January 2015


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r whitman

Conflict in SA of any kind would be a boon to oil producers in Iraq, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Canada, North Dakota , Alaska and Texas. Imagine if 12% of the worlds oil supply is not available.

different clue

Colonel Lang,

If (as I remember) Asir is the mainly Shia province, would the townspeople there also be Shia? If so, what could ISIS bring itself to offer them as a reason to rebel against House of Saud and in favor of ISIS?


different clue

Asir is mainly Hanbali Sunni with some few Zeidi Shia along the Yemen "border." pl

Babak Makkinejad

They have cafes in Muslims countries just that there are no women in them; for the most part.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think that the financiers are soul-less; before 2008 collapse, much of the funding of Silicon Valley startups came from the money they made on the financial sector - that was their game (in the sense of little boys playing).

r whitman

If the House of Saud falls who gets to steal their Sovereign Wealth Fund with all those Petrodollars in it?

different clue

Colonel Lang,

Thank you for correcting me and pardon me for getting it so wrong. I will go find the map I should have found to begin with.

Adam L Silverman


I think the strategy has three objectives, as I've outlined in the post: 1) drive to and seize the oil fields, 2) move on Mecca, and 3) ultimately remove the monarchy/House of Saud. I think that to achieve these objectives that you will see suicide attacks, as well as other forms of low intensity warfare. As to a rebellion within the House of Saud, I'm sure its possible, but I'm not sure how probable. While we have a lot of anecdotal, and in some case legal evidence - from court cases such as the BAE bribery case prosecuted in Great Britain, that different members of the royal family - princes and/or their spouses - have provided financial support to AQ, different AQ affiliates, and other reactionary, violent, extremist Islamic movements, when push comes to shove, I don't know enough to say that one group of princes would attempt to cut a separate deal. If it were to happen, however, it would not necessarily surprise me.

Russia will not be helpful at all. Putin and the Saudis are on opposing sides in the Syrian Civil War and are oil competitors. Moreover, the fall of a US ally fits within Putinism, which has a large portion of anti-Western revanchism as an underlying ideology. The other major component of Putinism, which partially drives and feeds off of the revanchism, is the belief that the past twenty plus years of international order need to be repudiated and reordered. Russia will play ball only where its in Putin's interest and when this happens it shouldn't be taken as anything but self-interest.

Adam L Silverman


I would be very careful of trusting anything that comes out of Pipes' shop. Or those that he's bankrolled. These include Steve Emerson...

I got asked to deconflict one of his other sponsorees last year. Woman has a doctorate in art history, but because of backing from a Pipes' funded organization is now a forensic imagery consultant specializing in violent crime and Islamic imagery that promotes jihad and terrorism. I was trying to keep a two star commander's good name and reputation deconflicted from this meshugas.


r whitman,

Won't the royal princes be in Monaco, Geneva and sundry other European locals? Then of course there are all those investment advisors......

Adam L Silverman


COL Lang is correct in making explicit, what I was driving at in terms of the dual nature of ISIS driving towards the oil fields. While the physical objective is the oil fields, the informational objective is in forcing the Saudis to deal with ISIS cleansing the Shi'a from the area. ISIS will be prepared to capitalize on the Saudi response, should it be in protecting the Shi'a or assisting them as they become internally displaced, as hypocrisy from Wahabbi theology and dogma. They'll also use it as an informational weapon to point to it as an example of Saudi apostasy. This creates the theological and theopolitical informational opening to represent themselves as having the true path of Islam as delineated by Ahmed Ibn Wahab, This is one of many tools that will be used to try to separate the Sunni Saudi populace from the monarchy and religious authorities and coopt them. This is especially true for those who are not as well off as other Saudis, as well as the large amount of young Saudi men with little to do. Traditionally, Saudi Arabia has exported these young men to do missionary work and in some cases to engage in the extremist understanding of jihad and shahadat - for instance the Arab Afghans that fought against the Saudis. ISIS will seek to bring many of them home and combine them with those already in Saudi as a weapon aimed at the monarchy and religious authority,

Adam L Silverman

Confused Ponderer,

Bandar's mother was a commoner, not a slave, and officially a concubine. His father, Prince Sultan, was a member of the Sudairi Seven princes. Prince Bandar and his mother went to live with his grandmother Hasa bint Ahmed al Sudairi at the age of eleven.



I think a weakness in Adam L Silverman analysis is that it doesn't look at the situation in Yemen. the key there, as I would see it, is the quotation marks used by Col Lang around the word border in 'Asir is mainly Hanbali Sunni with some few Zeidi Shia along the Yemen "border."'

I think the Saudi border to Yemen is - despite efforts to improve that - still quite porous and Yemen is ripe with weapons and militants of all kinds. Let me give some news quotes to make the point.

AP reported five years ago from Jabal al-Dukhan, Saudi Arabia's southwestern border with Yemen, quote:

Saudi Deaths in Fight With Yemen Rebels Reach 113

... The Al Riyadh newspaper quoted Maj. Gen. Ali Zaid al-Khawaji as saying the dead include a senior Saudi officer whose body was found with those of two soldiers after a battle last week to drive rebels out of a border village.

The latest toll is a significant jump from last week, when assistant defense minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan said the Saudis had 82 dead and 470 wounded. ...



A bit background of that fighting on both sides of the border is here in Wikipedia


Two days ago Lebanese Al Manar station close to Hezbollah carried this message, quote:

Saudi Arabia Warns Yemeni President: Houthis’ Control of Maareb Red Line

... Saudi Arabia has warned the Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi against any attempts to help the Houthi revolutionaries gain control of the oil-rich province of Maareb. Qatar-financed newspaper, al-Araby al-Jadeed reported the event, saying that Riyadh considers such move by Houthis, who are also known as Ansarullah movement, as a “red line.”... “This indicates that Riyadh realizes the importance of the oil-rich province,” which is considered the only oil and electricity supplier in Yemen, the daily said, noting that Maareb is also considered strategic because it neighbors Hadramaut and al-Jawf which are near to the Saudi kingdom. ...



However, President Hadi's abilities to influence the situation in a way that pleases the Saudis may be quite limited. BBC reported today, quote:

Yemen crisis: Houthi rebels surround PM's residence

... Yemen's Shia Houthi rebels have surrounded the prime minister's residence in the centre of the capital Sanaa, officials have said.

"The gunmen have surrounded the palace and the prime minister is inside," a government spokesman was quoted as saying. ...



Iranian Press TV put a bit different spin to the story, quote:

Yemen Shia fighters seize army base: Official

A Houthi official says fighters with the Ansarullah Shia movement have seized control of a Yemeni army base on a hill overlooking the presidential palace in the capital, Sana’a.

The Shia fighters “at this moment control the Nahdain mountain, which overlooks the presidential complex,” said the official, Ali al-Bukhaiti.

“They have allowed soldiers to leave with their personal weapons,” he added.

According to Yemen Press website, forces of the country’s Presidential Guard surrendered to Houthi fighters, also known as Ansarullah. ...


From what I see the development in Yemen just across porous borders can spell as much trouble for the Saudis as IS in Iraq, and of course these troubles intersect, as in Yemen are both, IS/AQAP and Shia, who all have lot's of weapons and fighters with no love lost for the Saudi royals.


Babak, you are a strange man.

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

I am not absolutely sure, but it feels Confucius and The Analects is a bit like Socrates' survival in Plato:


"Tsze-lu said, "The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done?"

The Master replied, "What is necessary is to rectify names."
"So! indeed!" said Tsze-lu. "You are wide of the mark! Why must there be such rectification?"


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

Were exactly is the difference between religion and ideology used by power gamblers?

I spare you my quote of mythical Lao-Tze.


Thanks for the clarification. What I was getting at were two things:

For one Bandar's 'lack of pedigree' among Saudi Royalty. That appears also be a problem with deputy heir/ deputy crown prince Muqrin, who also is 'only the son of a concubine'.

And then I also reply to your post from 19 January 2015 at 09:10 PM:

The current King will die sooner or later, so there's no rush. But the question of succession is key.

Are Saudis are indeed so loyal to the will of the dying king that they repect his choice of someone they deem 'inferior'? Apparently there is already some campaign against Muqrin in that regard.


On the flipside that means, there is an odd chance that someone who deems himself more legitimate (or able/deserving albeit lacking in pedigree, too, or someone younger but related by blood to a 'full wive') may try to seize the throne. Going against the will of the king, he needs some alternative legitimacy.

Religion immediately comes to mind - strict adherence to the Wahhabi faith may be the means of choice to underline his legitimacy. That would be the coup, or revolution from the top, variant.

Are there candidates like that in Saudi Arabia? Is there royal support for ISIS?

I wonder whether the subtle strategy in which ISIS targets Shia in order to delegitimise the Saudi government - if they help the Saudis - the protectors of holy sites - are helping apostates, and if they don't do anything they are ineffectual rulers - can work on its own or whether it needs inside help from the top or below.

ISIS as a potential ally probably gives a poop about dynasties, so Saudi Royals in their right mind are ill advised to even touch them with the proverbial ten foot pole. ISIS must look at Saudi Royals like my cat looks at pigeons.

Or is ISIS really just aiming lower, at a reviolution from below and a falling apart of the Saudi government and expect to cause enough ferment just by massacring Shia, soft targets?

If they go for that, we can probably expect car bombs or suicide bombings on the next Shia celebration. But will that be enough to cause a revolution? At the least, it will also need 'rabble rousing' in population centres.


Sorry, but I overread your reply above to Aka that ISIS will aim on

"1) drive to and seize the oil fields, 2) move on Mecca"

Yes, that makes sense. Rather straightforward.

I got lured by the intrigue of, er, palace intrigues. My apologies.


They say 'even a broke clock is right twice a day', well, unless of course it is digital, then it is always wrong. This here to mee didn't seem to come to the level of digital-clock-wrongness.

But your point is well taken, and I ried to clarify my own scepticism by writing 'Their take is not implausible'. Usually Pipes is quite horrible.

But while at it, do you know more about Bandar's threats to Putin and his removal from office?


Café comes from the Arabic word Ghahveh, translated into Persian as Ghahvehyee (Brownish). I am sure Mr. WRC knows that the whole "Ghahveh Khaneh" ( coffee house) culture was an integral part of culture in the Middle-East and North-Africa.
I would not worry too much about the Islamic take over of café-culture in E.U. They need to worry about Nuland take-over of their economy (I refer to Clinton's words, during his campaign against Bush: It is the economy st…d)

William R. Cumming

The real question for a questionable NATO IMO is whether NATO will be flipped into ethnic and cultural cleaning for its remaining existence!

It is not prepared or even organized to fight Russia or China IMO!

The last weeks have turned the EU to largely believe ISLAM is an existential threat to the EU IMO!

William R. Cumming

Porous borders becoming a new existential threat to the NATION-STATE system IMO!



ME borders were always porous and SA is not a nation state. pl

Babak Makkinejad

In regards to ideology & religion:

Is not Shoah your religion?

Babak Makkinejad

One correction:

Islam does not have much of a theology as compared to Christianity.

Among Muslims, Wahabis have none - theology is Reason asking Revelations.

Among Wahabis, Reason does not eixst - cunning does.

David Habakkuk

Adam Silverman,

“Moreover, the fall of a US ally fits within Putinism, which has a large portion of anti-Western revanchism as an underlying ideology. The other major component of Putinism, which partially drives and feeds off of the revanchism, is the belief that the past twenty plus years of international order need to be repudiated and reordered.”

With respect:

1. At the outset, a central thread in ‘Putinism’ was seeking alliance with the United States. You might care to look back at this RFE/RL report from November 2001. It opens:

‘Since the September attacks against the United States, Russia has been one of Washington's staunchest supporters in the “war against terrorism.” Russian President Vladimir Putin, on numerous occasions, has spoken of the need for a fundamentally new bilateral relationship. How long-lasting will Russia’s commitment be, and what is it seeking in its ties with the United States and other Western states?’

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

2. An invaluable account of why Putin’s commitment turned out not to be ‘long-lasting’ was given by Dmitri Trenin – who heads the Carnegie Moscow Center – in a long article in the ‘Tablet’ in August 2013. At the core of this, as Trenin brings out, is the fact that Putin, rather than believing that ‘the past twenty plus years of international order need to be repudiated and reordered’, sees the West as having becoming a destabilising force, alike in the Middle East as in the post-Soviet space. As Trenin summarises the change in Putin’s attitude to the West:

‘It goes without saying that Vladimir Putin is a very conservative politician and statesman, and he is deeply cynical about domestic politics and international relations. He defends the status quo: domestically, because it suits him best; and internationally, because it is often the lesser evil. In his more than a dozen years in power, he has lost his early admiration for the United States and his once-strong empathy for Europe.’

(See http://tinyurl.com/koqv8ts )

3. This perception is a very direct response to the actions of the United States and its European allies. In response to its – somewhat belated - realisation of the threat from jihadist terrorism the United States proceeded to smash up the secular nationalist regime in Iraq, and then continued along the same lines in Libya and Syria: thus fanning the flames of the jihadist threat.

4. The temerity of Putin frustrating what Colonel Lang terms ‘the madcap scheme’ of the Obama Administration ‘to purge Syria of a secular, multi-confessional government to be replaced by god knows what’ clearly produced apoplexy in the neocons. Last September, the president of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, reiterated the familiar hope that a ‘choice to join Europe’ by Ukraine could precipitate the destabilisation of Putin’s rule. It ended: ‘Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.’

(See http://tinyurl.com/ljbx4zf )

5. The sleazy propaganda language used by Gershman obscured a reality evident to anyone in the least knowledgeable about Ukraine – that the democracy promoters were actually facilitating the project of West Ukrainian nationalists to impose their version of national identity on the South and East, including Crimea.

6. As you may be aware, Victoria Nuland’s candidate for Ukrainian leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, recently made the following remarks on German television:

“Russian aggression in Ukraine is an attack on world order and order in Europe. All of us still clearly remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. That has to be avoided. And nobody has the right to rewrite the results of the Second World War. And that is exactly what Russia’s President Putin is trying to do.”

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

As you may also be aware, the emblem of one of the more prominent nationalist units fighting in the Donbass, the Azov Battalion, contains light transformations of the ‘Wolfsangel’ symbol of the SS ‘Das Reich’ Panzer division, and the ‘black sun’ set in the floor of the ‘Obergruppenführersaal’ of the castle at Wewelsburg. According to the ‘Wikipedia entry:

‘During the Third Reich the castle became the representative and ideological center of the order of the SS. Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS, wanted to establish the “Center of the New World”.

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sun_%28occult_symbol%29 .

7. The notion that empowering such people, and then trying to cripple the Russian economy in the hope of enabling their project of imposing Yatsenyuk’s conception of Ukrainian nationhood on the Crimea and the Donbass, was quite as ‘madcap’ as the notion that toppling Assad would empower ‘moderate Islamists’. Predictably, the effect has been to move Putin decisively in the direction of China – with the vast majority of Russians rallying behind him.

9. Another possible result of all this is is that complex latent divisions in Europe may be opening up. At issue here are not simply the economic effects of the sanctions against Russia on European countries, important as these are. The ‘wolfsangel’ and ‘black sun’ may not be symbols of ill-omen for people like Nuland and Gershman; they are for quite a few of us in Britain and elsewhere in Europe – not least, I suspect, in Germany.

Abu Sinan

There is a major geographical split in the Saudi Sunnis. There is the Najdi/Qassim types who are extremely conservative. Then you have the Hijaz whom the tribes under as-Saud took and destroyed multiple shrines, mosques and religious buildings along the way. The Hijaz has always been more liberal, and at the time when they were conquered by as-Saud, had a level of freedom and representation that they have yet to gain back. One of the regular insults used by the Najdi against the Hijazi is to call them "the vomit of the ocean". Literally in Arabic the phrase is "what the ocean has spit up." Saudi, on the whole, might follow the Hanbali madhab, but there are vast regional differences that should not be under estimated.

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