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07 October 2015


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FB Ali

Alastair Crooke is a long-time observer of the ME. Here is what he recently wrote about SA:

"The third variable is Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is becoming heavily extended financially in the face of the drop in crude prices. Linked to this, Saudi is over-extended politically: engaged in wars in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya; and in ensuring the survival of President Sisi’s government. On top of this, the kingdom is being led by a young man, the King’s son, who has crossed every al-Saud family ‘red-line’: by not accommodating other family branches in a ‘balance’ of power; by persuading his father unilaterally to tear-up the succession arrangements; by refusing access to his father, by taking ARAMCO under his control; and above all, by launching and conducting the war in Yemen, without seeking, or obtaining, the family’s support. Reports are openly circulating within the al-Saud family (which are now public), calling for the King, Prince Mohammad and Prince Naif – the two crown princes – to be deposed".

( http://tinyurl.com/ptnczuw )


Walrus, there are many examples of this analysis available.

Jamal Khashoggi, a writer from Saudi Arabia and "A painful and frustrating Arab collapse"

"Our disaster is that as we collapse, we are carrying the seeds of the collapse of our modern states: intolerance, tyranny, tribalism, greed, and lack of governance based on sovereignty of law and democracy."

So when Dr. Ali Alyami says "The Saudi population, especially the younger people, are growing restless " I'm inclined to believe him.


A lot seems in line with the Washington consensus of not needing to be reality based. For example, he argues when asked about Libya and Iraq that destabilization has nothing to do with the US, it was the lack of democracy. On the one factor that would be useful, how long will the oil last, he has no information. I think I learned more from the alastair crooke piece.

RE: Your other question: I think the global economy would head into a deep recession in the event of a Saudi implosion - it seems to be heading that way on its own, and QE seems no longer to function.

The Twisted Genius

I certainly do not want to see the KSA collapse into chaos, no matter how much I think the royal family may deserve the Gaddafi treatment (knife up the arse, bullet in the brain and carcass on display in the grocer's frozen food aisle). We've seen enough of that in the region and it never ends well. I'd rather see their coffers emptied to the point where they can only afford to buy off their own people while they desperately cling to power. If the royal family lacked the time and resources to diddle with anything outside the borders of the Kingdom, we'd all be better off.

Kim Sky

First hand experience, a response to these so-called claims:

"...Saudi royal family. The country is divided along tribal, religious, gender and ethnic lines as a result of the regime’s “divide and conquer” policy and practice. The country is held together only by sheer force under the Saudi ruling family absolute rule.

Lot's of huff and puff about this one. The only tribal threat to S.A. is the shiite in the east, think AARAMCO, they are repressed there. A minority, and it is true the police are very opressive.

"The Saudi population, especially the younger people, are growing restless because they see what is happening in the world through social media of which they are among the highest users - that’s the only means they have to communicate. So the situation inside the country is also very fragile and the foreign policy conducted by the current regime is very perilous."

Young people, including women, are paid a salary to attend university. Schools are available to all. Universities are being built all over the place. Life takes place in the Malls (think better Malls than in the U.S., including KFC & McDonalds). And, life takes place in the mosques. The youth are full of life and happy. Asked about the royal family, they will role their eyes, only because there are way too many princes to think about. They are better off than youth in the U.S. Much more optimistic.

"The Saudi people are directly affected by the root causes of the Arab Spring – which is irreversible, will continue and more likely will spill over to the Gulf States. It is only a matter of time because the Gulf States are ruled by oligarchies who maintain control through bribery and the sword."

The Arab Spring, motivated by deep poverty, hunger etc. This is not a problem in S.A. In the last two years a massive operation/mass arrests and removal of the immigrant population, Pakistanis, Philipinos and Yeminis. The Saudi populus doesn't care about the low level workers/slaves.

The youth are some of the happiest I've seen in the world, and I've seen at least fifty countries.

Bill Herschel

Would the American military intervene to protect the Saudi oil fields if the Kingdom collapsed?

If they did, my opinion is that the Russia would do nothing to prevent it. Russia has plenty of oil. What is bothering them is Islamic extremism.

Slightly tangentially, someone should remind Hollande that if it were not for Charles Martel he would be speaking Arabic. Would ISIS go as far as Poitiers? They would go as far as Edinburgh if they could. As Europe looks around it, I hope it realizes that Ashton Carter (or Barack Obama) is not a modern Charles Martel and that Vladimir Putin, with any luck, is.

Kim Sky

As far as the problem with the "young prince". If necessary, he will be removed and the royal family will do a shuffle. This will have virtually no effect within the Kingdom. They have faced these types of squabbles many a time. Moving princes or kings out of power, and then back in again.

What happened to Prince Bandar. Or was he called Bandar Bush? Silently moved aside. Foreign policy may change, not a lot. War on Yemen is new. Imagine, U.S. students talking about our wars, not much of a response. Oh well, doesn't affect me, who cares.

Paveway Mk IV

My two cents: I wouldn't describe him as a denizen of the think tanks as much as he is an advocate anywhere in Washington for the two causes listed in his foundation's title: Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. That is what it is - he doesn't appear to have any other obvious political or business agenda other than reform in Saudi Arabia.

He is unique in that he is one of the few (the VERY few) informed and vocal critics of the Saudi rulers, their policies and their profound exploitation of religious extremism - via Wahabbism - to extend their control over the Middle East. That's why I doubt he's very welcome around many of the think tanks, which have - in many cases - a financial interest in keeping the Saudi royals happy and looking after their interests. Likewise, there's plenty of politicians who don't care what he has to say because they are already feeding at the Saudi royal trough or have interests complementary to the royals.

Alyami is not anti-Saudi Arabia in the least. He just doesn't like the current management (with good reason) and will say so honestly. He wants (wishes?) for a better country for his people there, and tries to influence anyone that will listen in Washington what the problems are now. He's the 'Emperor has no clothes' guy.

I would say that Walrus missed the real meat relevant to the U.S. from that interview quoted. Not sure if this is the original source, but it appeared in full on ZeroHedge: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-07/saudi-population-are-growing-restless-deep-look-inside-black-box-saudi-arabia

The parts everyone missed (I insist) is central to understanding Saudi support of Wahabbism:

1. Speaking of the power block of Wahabbi clerics, "...they have more in common with ISIS than they do with the Saudi royal family. So they are plotting against the regime that has always supported them and promoted them to important positions..."

2. Re Assad: "...In reality, the Saudi regime’s insistence that Assad has to go is partially to appease its own religious establishment who see Shiites as heretics and who want to establish their dominance over Syria as if they are entitled to do so..."

Wahabbi clerics are a kind of shadow co-government that are never going away if current (or future) Saudi leaders continue to use them to project Saudi influence in the region. They can extend that influence under Wahabbism much further than any army or political system affords them. The same holds true for *anyone* holding the reigns of power in Saudi Arabia, so rotating the ruling Royals will do absolutely nothing to curb their eternal support for exporting Wahabbism.

Dr. Alyami's hope is that a more rational group of the younger royals might gain support amongst the disenfranchised young adults in Saudi Arabia and break the yoke that saddles the conservative Saudi royals to Wahabbism. He knows some kind of change is coming and wants younger reformers to take the helm, but I don't see any conviction that he thinks that this is the way it WILL play out. He merely hopes it will.

His views are a breath of fresh air because the current obsession amongst the House of Saud watchers is who will be the next likely king and what will that mean. Short of an Arab-Spring-type revolution, it will simply be another flavor of a conservative royal bound at the hip with Wahabbism. In other words, nothing will change for the U.S.: Wahabbism, al Qaeda, ISIS and every other form of Salafist extremism will continue to spew from SA. On the same token, the shadow government (the clerics) will never call off jihadis in Syria - it's a religious war that they will never stop feeding with fresh blood. The U.S. and/or Russia will make things complicated for them, but they will never stop.

Regime change in Saudi Arabia will be meaningless unless the conservative Sauds go AND the clerics powers are neutered. Short of that, nothing changes.


I have a large amount of family members working in Saudi Arabia, as doctors, teachers, businessmen. They tell me that although the discontent and realizations of political hypocrisy with what is going on around them are real, the Saudi "middle class"(all of the non-Royal Saudis) are far from revolting or even feeling any type of discontent against the government in any capacity. Their lives are simply too good. No taxes, payed for college abroad, free stuff left and right. The freedom to do anything you want as long as you toe the political line. Aside from a total economic collapse which I don't see happening, the average Saudi will never put their cozy lives on the line.
Besides the economic side, a weak point I see in Saudi and Gulf society as a whole are the millions upon millions of non arab "mawali" living in a parallel society in shanty cities within the Kingdoms. If some foreign government or group could find a way to somehow exploit tension among these groups, it could cause major problems.


Paveway Mk 4

The USAF and RSAF have them. Nobody in the USAF could have written your comment. pl


Bill Herschel

You think the US military decides whether or not to intervene somewhere? How droll. pl

Bill Herschel

Well, I thought they would be following orders to intervene from Washington.

But, having said that, I wonder if they have been asked to draw up plans for military intervention in Saudi Arabia in case a) the Saudi king asks for it or b) the Saudi government collapses.

When I see a picture of Kerry with the Saudi Foreign Minister, my blood boils. We are going to force Assad from power because he is a brutal dictator? Hypocrisy.

Bill Herschel

What of the war in Yemen? Does that change anything?


"Dr. Ali Alyami appears to me a denizen of Washington think tanks focussed on Saudi Arabia."

Mos think tanks in Washington and NYC are run and funded by our kosher friends.

Paveway Mk IV

Oddly enough, only Raytheon UK makes them for the RAF and they have recently been exported to the RSAF (to my dismay), but the USAF does not and is not planning on using them at all that I know of. The USAF is sticking with the Small Diameter Bomb and the Laser-JDAM. I use to use the more familiar Paveway Mk III but forgot my password, so I upgraded my login ID.

Not sure I understand your comment about nobody in the USAF writing that. Do you mean wouldn't write it for political / career-ending reasons? I've been out a while and the VA hasn't stalked me yet. Maybe they should.

FB Ali

Very interesting!

I have always thought that, if a change were to ever occur, it would be from among their armed forces. Most likely, the RSAF, whose people probably have much more exposure to the outside world, and also are more 'technical'.

Of course, the establishment and the system are too well-entrenched to be dislodged barring a collapse of the oil economy.

FB Ali

I think Dr Alyami (or you) minimise the role of the royals (especially the present ones in power) in the SA support of the jihadis and the anti-Assad campaign. Of course it pleases the Wahhabi establishment, and lessens their pressure, but it also serves their geopolitical purposes. Crazy as they are!

FB Ali

The latest IMF report on Saudi finances:

"Oil price slump turns Saudi surplus into huge deficit"



Paveway Mark IV

Nobody has ever used s "Paveway" moniker on this blog, ever and a password is not required to post a comment. You are in the upper Midwest. I won't say where exactly. Your remarks about the Mark IV are a direct lift from the wiki on the bomb. My point about the USAF is that I do not think anyone in that service would have the depth of knowledge about SA to write that analysis, which, BTW, I think is pretty good. My guess is that you are a university type playing games. Don't. This is a blog full of spooks. pl

Paveway Mk IV

Not my intention and I don't think Dr. Alyami does either. I've read a few different interviews of him as well as some of his articles, so I'm speaking from a collective memory of his writings - not just this one.

My comments were meant as a response to the question about any valuable insights in his interview. My American friends that don't follow international affairs like to hate the easy, simple, cartoonish villains our mainstream media likes create for them. Possible Saudi coup? "Who is the evil Saudi guy supporting terrorism now? If he get's booted out, will the next guy be any better?"

It's impossible to answer that kind of over-simplified question - the situation is extremely complex with layers I can't even begin to comprehend. For a start, though, I think most Americans miss the subtle but complex relationship between Wahhabist extremism and the Royals. Each enables the other to some degree. It's not *just* as simple as an obscenely-rich princes throwing bags of money at unemployed jihadis. Of course it depends on that happening first, but that act alone doesn't explain it's spread and persistence. Wahhabism is integral to what's happening in KSA & M.E. as well as marginalization of Sunnis.

The point (at least as far as what the U.S. should be concerned with) is that with enough social unrest, Wahhabi jihadis will work for free. If the royals fled the KSA for some reason, someone would step in to fill the vacuum. The clerics would have every reason to do that, even though their main donors just left. They would certainly have a big say in who will be allowed to take the reigns and could get rid of someone they didn't approve of.

That doesn't make clerics the main force to be reckoned with, it just makes them an important one. Could they be removed or their role somehow diminished with a new government? I don't know. But I could see the U.S. attempting to 'fix' things by throwing in some hand-selected puppet. I'm guessing the clerics wouldn't be too happy about that.

And if the royals left and took their loot with them, how long is the middle class going to last? Do you have walls high enough to keep all the newly-starving poor Saudis and the millions of migrant workers out?

I'm not a big fan of the current KSA government, but I shudder to think what the people of Saudi Arabia might go through during a change. There's way too many bad things that can happen. I wouldn't want to see the people of KSA suffer because of the hate everyone has for the takfiris. Nobody had a vote among the people of Saudi Arabia whether they wanted to flood the Middle East with jihadis. We know the royals did it because they could afford to.


Paveway Mark IV

I don't know of anyone here who is a fan of the KSA government. I presume that you are Saudi. pl

Babak Makkinejad

"..We know the royals did it because they could afford .." is only half the story, the other half is the collusion on this project with the NATO states.

As well as in the catastrophic war in Yemen.

Let's not kid ourselves here, EU could wage an economic war against Saudi Arabia and stop that country from functioning in 2 weeks.

But why should all those secularist democrats in US, Canada, Australia, EU harm their bosom buddy?

Wahhabis have been needed against Islamic Revolution in Iran and they will be needed for the foreseeable; in my opinion.

The Bedu fighting the core state of Muslim Civilization; it would have been all too funny had the situation not become so grave because of it.

Caveat Emptor.

Bill Herschel

What should be made of this, if anything? It cannot be called pro-Russian by any means. And it is poorly organized.


And a specific question. Lavrov, the only articulate speaker on the world stage right now in my opinion, has made it very clear that he thinks the United States is protecting ISIS. To the extent that ISIS is an outreach by the extremists in Saudi Arabia, that makes sense. Does it?

Paveway Mk IV

Nothing to do with this blog - my computer went belly-up and my Google, Twitter and all the others were lost a couple of years ago. You can't use the old one again so I made all the new ones back then as IV. When this computer dies, I'll probably be back as Paveway V because I have no idea anymore what I used for all these new passwords.

"...You are in the upper Midwest. I won't say where exactly..."

Yes - there are actually several USAF vets here. It's because of all the blonde, corn-fed Mid-west women, I think.

"...Your remarks about the Mark IV are a direct lift from the wiki on the bomb..."

The Mk IV was way past my time and a different continent - I have to use Wiki now like everyone else.

"...My point about the USAF is that I do not think anyone in that service would have the depth of knowledge about SA to write that analysis..."

Oh, hell... were we really THAT bad? Come to think of it, you're probably right. We were paid by the AF for our dashing good looks and witty repartee, not our analysis skills.

"...My guess is that you are a university type playing games. Don't. This is a blog full of spooks..."

Jesus - have you read anything produced by our 'university types' lately? I would be delighted to find one that can put together a coherent thought longer than 140 characters. I'm not going to fax you my DD-214, but it's your blog. If this place is filled with spooks, then you guys already have a selector on me because of my rants on ZeroHedge (just ignore the dirty words - it's a rough place).

Paveway Mk IV

Er... no, just a nobody American. I realize the necessity and utility of governments (even bad ones) and I know a Saudi guy bleeds just like me. The rest is all details.

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