Friday, March 16, 2018

What is Muhammad bin Salman up to?

There is so much Western and Israeli investment in Muhammad bin Salman that if he falls a lot in Western policies and wars will fall with him--at least in part. Of course, nobody is more opportunistic than Western governments and Israel: just as US abandoned so swiftly Muhammad bin Nayif, its loyal servant for many decades, they will abandon quickly this MbS if he falls.  The story about him placing his own mother under house arrest is big.  It shows that a man is willing to violate not only the standard conventional thinking and policies and orientations of the Saudi regime, but even the common traditions and social norms of society in Arabia.  The fact that he can't trust his own mother because he fears that she may advance the fortunes of her other sons, tells you that he is most insecure.  He has dealt with his insecurity in two ways: 1) by relying on US and Western support no matter what he does as long as he serves Israeli interests and Western economic interests; 2) by being ruthless inside the kingdom and against his own royal family.  The story just now that the members of the "Saud Al-Kabir" within the royal family indicates that there is at least a sign of deep dissatisfaction.  And as Mujtahid observed: this branch is known for ruthlessness.  The National Guard was built and cultivated by King Abdullah and later his son. I can't see that all of them would swiftly switch allegiance.  I can't see how MbS could sustain his method of rule.  It is based too much on external support, fear and little by way of domestic support.  The promise of theatre and sleazy "art" from Lebanon is not enough to make people forget the oppression they suffer under and the bad economic situation of the Kingdom.  The grand promises of MbS will follow the dictates of the law of diminishing returns.  Every season he will fail to deliver and then he will decree bonuses to employees or new subsidies.  How long will that last.  He could have easily established a much more secure rule if he is not too paranoid and if he was a bit more deferential to the norms of the family.  Not a pretty picture coming out--for him and for those banking on him.