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29 April 2015


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Not only do you provide us a good education but you continue to be prescient. The Saudi's the best pals in the ME along with the Israelis of both Democrats and Republicans are a paper tiger when it comes to war. But they meddle in everyone's affairs and throw their money around that the Blairs, Clintons and Bushes are quite happy to partake in. The partisan hacks of course find great distinctions between the parties when in reality they are 2 sides of the same coin when it comes to bigger government and interference in everyone's affairs here at home and abroad. The foolishness in trading the secular Saddam for the medieval IS is only compounded by the fact that both Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are quite happy to strip Americans of their civil liberties because we must be kept safe from our Saudi pals crashing another aircraft into a building.

Margaret Steinfels

If only Saddam Hussein had known that in 1991.


Reading this left me wondering where, exactly, did the deserters go? My lack of knowledge about the KSA is showing, for sure. Do they just drift back home, to their original villages, never to be apprehended? That in itself would be pretty telling about any society. How does governance happen the army just can walk away from their posts with no consequences.



Someone will eventually go collect them but their fear overcomes that certainty. pl



He was repeatedly told how weak the Sauds were. His people told him but he was a military incompetent like Hitler. pl

The Twisted Genius

We had a Saudi NG major in our Infantry Officers Advanced Course. He was the biggest dirtball of an officer I have ever met. His American sponsor came from the 2nd Ranger Battalion and did his best to entertain, guide and support him for six months all while suppressing his strong desire to kill the bastard and bury him in a shallow unmarked grave somewhere on Fort Benning. In stark contrast, we had two Egyptian colonels who were Soviet trained veterans of the Yom Kippur War. One described in detail how he set up the fire pockets that clobbered the Israeli armor at the battle of Chinese Farm. Their critique of our active defense doctrine from a Soviet point of view was intelligence and devastating.


Col Lang or Patrick,

What percentage of the SANG or other branches of the Saudi military are ISIS or al Qaida sympathizers? Active moles?

Patrick Bahzad


That story about the Saudi major at Fort Benning put a smile on my face ... I felt for the sponsor from 2nd Ranger, as I do know the feeling from certain token armies in the Gulf States.
They buy hich-tech gear like there was no tomorrow, but they have only tin soldiers using these equipments (or trying to use them).
As for shallow unmarked graves, there are places with lots of holes in the ground, and lots of problems buried in those holes ... although in the case of IOAC, I wouldn't recommend this type of problem solving ;-)


Forgive my naivete, but how is this possible? I was under the impression that the US advised them in setting up and running their military forces (United States Military Training Mission - http://usmtm.org)


"The intel gathered by the western intelligence agencies shows that the Saudi military forces have fled their bases, military centers and bordering checkpoints near Yemen in group"

That is pathetic.

And the Saudis have the nerve of haughtily ordering in the Egyptians and Pakistanis to do what they cannot, because they pay them money? And be surprised when the Pakistanis refuse and the Egyptians are apparently less than enthusiastic?

One would have hoped the Saudis had possessed the good sense to check the answers before starting the war, and if the answer was no, to not have asked publicly.

Then there is the obvious idiocy of getting yourself into a war you cannot fight yourself, which means that the Saudis did not have a realistic assessment of their own military strength, and that likely, their officers didn't either or, just as bad if not worse, were yes-men who didn't want to upset the royals.

And how to better point out to ISIS, AQAP, etc. the great and utter weakness of the kingdom militarily? If the Saudi army runs from the Houthi, it will run from ISIS or AQAP. This will wet their mouths.

If I was a Saudi Sheik I'd hold my gold plated Airbus 380 on standby. If ISIS or AQAP comes to the Kingdom, the Saudi Army won't be the only ones running. The sheiks will be falling over each other on their way to the exits.

How was the phrase the Iraqis in Francona's book used for the Kuwaitis? The 'bearded women' down south?

Patrick Bahzad


Maybe Col. Lang can give you more insight, as he has a first hand personal experience of the Saudi military.

As far as I'm concerned, I would think that today's SANG or military is under strict watch, as the Saudi government is very much aware of the danger of an AQ type infiltration into the armed forces,
especially since the anti-terrorism campaign in the period 2003-2006.

Over the years however, there has been confirmed or alleged support and participation of SANG members in AQ or pre-AQ islamic insurgency or terror operations, starting with the seizure of the Grand Mosque of Mecca in 1979, which was organised and led by a former member of the SANG (from Al-Qassim province, in Najd region). Some of this guy's troops had also been in the SANG. In the more recent anti-terrorism campaign in the years 2003-2006, there have also been reports of collusion of SANG members with attackers.

It is difficult to give a reliable figure as to the threat, but it is true that the SANG still recruits from areas where very conservative religious beliefs are being held, even by Saudi standards (Najd region, and in particular Al-Qassim). Salafi beliefs are very common there. That is why there certainly are local sympathies with Al Qaeda, much less so with ISIS, which is resented as an Iraqi organisation and a Caliphate that isn't legitimate, thus no Caliphate at all. But this is a step away from calling them sympathizers, if you see the difference.

But as mentioned above, SANG is under tight watch and Prince Muhammad bin Nayef has efficiently reformed the security and police forces in the early 2000s. There has been extensive screening of all SANG officers and there is a constant supervision of lower ranks as well. In addition, analysing the profiles of Saudi Jihadis caught or killed in other countries (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq mostly), in the years 2003-2014, has shown that almost none of them had any previous military experience with the Saudi army or SANG. The Saudi policy has always been to export their Jihadi radicals and hope they get killed elsewhere, while promoting an agenda favourable to the Kingdom.

Overall, the present threat could thus be rated as rather low in KSA itself, but the domestic developments within KSA as well as foreign policy events might certainly have a bearing on how it evolves. Regarding deep-cover or sleeper cells, it has to be assumed that they exist, particularly in relation with Jihadi organisations doing the Saudis bidding in proxy wars like Syria, and to a lesser degree Yemen and Libya.



It is certainly true that the Saudi family run government will have everyone with a gun under close surveillance but the affinity of the core beliefs of the Wahhabi, Hanbali belief system in SA is so close to that of the Wahhabi inspired Islamists that the danger of infiltration must be serious. pl

Abu Sinan


That story came out recently, but I havent been able to find any links on it from any western media sources.

The Yemenis and analysts I know have tended to doubt the accuracy of the story because many of the sources where the story is coming from have a dog in the fight one way or the other.

I think it is very likely, but havent been able to find any sources that would help me push the idea.


Ppeople seem to think that an "adviser" to a foreign army, government or commercial company is really a commander in disguise. That is not the case. You can advise people until your head falls off but if they do not want to become you, they do not and there is nothing you can do about it. pl


Your site is useful. But it is more than a little creepy to see that when I arrive my visit is immediately trumpeted in a right sidebar, including the site I previously visited. In these times of resistance against mass surveillance, you fail to appreciate the contradiction with the avowed aims of your site, as embodied in its title.



Feel free not to come to SST. I run this place the way I please. pl

The Beaver


Just have to look at Sandhurst- the princes from the Gulf don't go through the same 'regimen' as the regulars.

Wonder when the Qataris will send their progeniture to St Cyr !


I guess I'm missing something re SA's air/land Yemen adventures (ie) WDC/Seven Sisters' fingerprints. I guess it's possible enough that Jeddah/Salman sucked it out of old Faisal's hookah?


I think more evidence needs to be found to confirm/deny the Saudi army desertions. I've been tracking through the two sources quoted and they quote others and those others appear to be either Iraqi Shia and a Christian group quoting unnamed sources. We should watch for harder confirmation. Maybe its true. Maybe its tainted by our preconceived notions of the SA military.


Browsers have a Do Not Track option. Dig around in advanced settings.

It is a cosmetic fix - it is only a "request" and not likely to be honored by serious surveyors/surveillors, but at least you won't see your arrival announced on Feedjit.

Babak Makkinejad

This has a long pedigree; the various ruling houses brought in Turkic slaves for protection and in time those former Turkic slaves became the ruling military cast; in Abbasid Caliphate as well as in Egypt.


Col: "Defeat would surely be their fate and the resulting failure of confidence might well destroy "the kingdom." PL

My daily prayer: Make it so.

Tom Welsh

Not sure about the geopolitical repercussions, but I for one would find it poetic justice if SA did invade Yemen, and after its troops were routed the fighting moved on into SA - all the way to Riyadh. I don't think the people in Washington and Tel Aviv would be too happy about it, though.

Swami Bhut Jolokia

Proving once again if you screw up in your job you too can get promoted to Crown Prince (#2). And the ambassador in DC becomes the new Foreign Minister? WTF?


Or you can just bookmark SST and come here directly, which is what I usually do.

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