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Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Tension mounts in Lebanon as Saudi Arabia escalates power struggle with Iran

In Beirut’s southern suburbs, where buildings scarred with wars of old blend with posters of the latest dead, talk of another conflict has taken hold. A fight on a scale not seen before may be brewing, say locals like Hussein Khaireddine, a barber who says he and his family in the Shia suburb of Dahiyeh have grown used to tensions over decades.

“This one’s different,” he said. “It could lead to every valley and mountain top. And if it starts, it may not stop.”

The trepidation extends beyond the city’s predominantly Shia suburbs and south Lebanon, which bore the brunt of the 2006 war with Israel, to all corners of a country that has suddenly found itself at the centre of an extraordinary regional crisis. The turmoil had been brewing for years. But it was brought to a head on 3 November, at a lunch in Beirut being hosted by prime minister Saad Hariri. Midway through the meal with the visiting French cultural minister, Françoise Nyssen, Hariri received a call and his demeanour changed. He excused himself and left for the airport, without his aides.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/11/lebanon-saudi-arabia-iran–power-struggle-saad-hariri-resignation

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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East

 

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This isn’t the first time Saudi Arabia has threatened the stability of Lebanon

A weird and highly constrained “interview” on his personally owned television channel by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was made under Saudi duress in Riyadh. The “interview”, in which Hariri – who claimed he had resigned last week and who on Sunday said he has “complete freedom” in Saudi Arabia but wanted to “look after his family as well” – was made after the Saudis declined to invite a Beirut-based Future TV crew to Saudi Arabia and insisted that their own television personnel filmed him.

Thus when he was questioned by popular Lebanese presenter Paula Yakoubian in the presence of Future’s Lebanese director of news Nadim Koteich in Riyadh, the Saudis were in a position to cut him off or edit Hariri’s words if he strayed away from what was very possibly a vetted script. For the “interview” itself reflected not the views which Hariri has persistently made public at home in Lebanon but those of the Saudi government under the effective leadership of the increasingly aberrant Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-saad-hariri-saudi-arabia-crown-prince-mohamed-bin-salman-lebanese-government-a8052246.html

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The night of the long knives in Saudi Arabia

The night of 4 November could truly be the Night of the Long Knives in Saudi Arabia.

The night started with the sacking Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, son of deceased King Abdullah and head of Saudi National Guard, a tribal force created to protect the royal family and key oil areas in the kingdom.

 

Since its consolidation in the 1960s, with the help of Britain, the Saudi National Guard (SANG) shed its past as a tribal militia, created out of the ikhwan fighters who launched Jihad on Saudis in the early years of the kingdom, to become a modern para-military force, balancing the army and other security forces.

At the time, the regime preferred to have multiple coercive forces led by several princes for fear of army coups along those that dominated Egypt, Syria and Iraq in the 1950s and 1960s. After foiling several coup attempts by army officers in the late 1960s, the regime under king Faisal decided that several military forces serve security better than a single unified and strong army.

SANG became King Abdullah’s power base and fiefdom in which patron-client relations with the tribes of Saudi Arabia were maintained. His eldest son Mutaib inherited the position to command SANG during his father’s time as king but with Muhammad bin Salman’s fierce drive to control all Saudi coercive bodies, including the army, and security forces, SANG was the last unit to be targeted.

As no real challenge to Muhammad bin Salman can come from princes with no militia, he was keen to end his senior cousin’s control over the last security body that can potentially undermine his rule.

It was surprising that he waited for so long.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/night-long-knives-saudi-arabia-1884539620

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, has not gone as smoothly as the Saudis wanted

The Saudis may be holding the Lebanese Prime Minister hostage but their apparent plan to topple the Beirut government has gloriously backfired. Far from breaking up the cabinet and throwing Hezbollah’s ministers to the wolves, the Lebanese nation has suddenly woken up to what it’s like to be united – against the Saudis. The Lebanese government has announced that it does not accept the resignation statement which Saad Hariri was obliged to make in Riyadh, and overnight hashtags have appeared on several Beirut streets saying “kul na Saad” – “We are all Saad”. Even the Sunni Muslims of Lebanon are furious at their Sunni counterparts in Saudi Arabia.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/saad-hariri-saudi-arabia-middle-east-lebanon-mohamed-bin-salman-a8048141.html

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia is doomed to fail

About eight or nine years ago, I had an Afghan friend who previously worked for a large US aid agency funding projects in the Afghan provinces. He had been hired to monitor their progress once work had got underway, but he did not hold the job very long for reasons that he explained to me.

The problem for the Americans at the local agency headquarters in Kabul was that the risk of ambush by the Taliban was deemed too high for them personally to visit the projects that they were funding. Instead, they followed the construction at one remove, by insisting that whatever Afghan company was involved should transmit back to Kabul at set intervals detailed pictures of its activities to show that they were fulfilling their contract to the letter.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/saudi-arabia-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-anti-corruption-drive-doomed-to-fail-a8047731.html

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Saad Hariri’s resignation as Prime Minister of Lebanon is not all it seems

When Saad Hariri’s jet touched down at Riyadh on the evening of 3 November, the first thing he saw was a group of Saudi policemen surrounding the plane. When they came aboard, they confiscated his mobile phone and those of his bodyguards. Thus was Lebanon’s prime minister silenced.

It was a dramatic moment in tune with the soap-box drama played out across Saudi Arabia this past week: the house arrest of 11 princes – including the immensely wealthy Alwaleed bin Talal – and four ministers and scores of other former government lackeys, not to mention the freezing of up to 1,700 bank accounts. Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s “Night of the Long Knives” did indeed begin at night, only hours after Hariri’s arrival in Riyadh. So what on earth is the crown prince up to?

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-prime-minister-saad-hariri-resignation-not-all-seems-quits-resigns-surprise-saudi-arabia-a8045636.html

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Bold new leadership or reconfigured Arab autocracy?

Should one welcome or worry about the new string of bold announcements by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman about his plans to remake the country in his image concerning what it requires to thrive into the coming generations? I think a bit of both is the answer, because there is cause for optimism as well as serious concern.The cornerstone of the national reconfigurations is an instant megacity in the desert in the very northwest of the country, near the borders with Jordan, Israel, and Egypt. The new urban wonderland that will be called “NEOM” will cost over $500 billion and will operate independently from the “existing governmental framework.” This is in line with the crown prince’s two-stage vision: gradually leaving behind the traditional Saudi way of governance and social conservatism, and instead engaging in novel forms of dramatic social engineering designed to create a new Saudi society that is sustainable in a future when oil income is expected to decline steadily and the state does not control or finance all aspects of life.

Source: Bold new leadership or reconfigured Arab autocracy?

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The House of Saud Bows to the House of Putin

What a difference a year – an eternity in geopolitics – makes. No one could see this coming; the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadi terror – which Russia fights no holds barred, from ISIS/Daesh to the Caucasus Emirate – beating a path to the Kremlin and about to embrace Russia as a strategic ally.The House of Saud was horrified by Russia’s successful campaign to prevent regime change in Syria. Moscow was solidifying its alliance with Tehran. Hawks in the Obama administration were imposing on Saudi Arabia a strategy of keeping oil prices down to hurt the Russian economy.

Source: The House of Saud Bows to the House of Putin

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2017 in Europe, Middle East

 

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Wheels and Deals: Trouble Brewing in the House of Saud

Suddenly, the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadism is being hailed by the West as a model of progress – because Saudi women will finally be allowed to drive. Only next year. Only some women. And still subject to many restrictions.What’s certain is that the timing of the announcement – which comes after years of liberal American pressure – was calculated with precision, arriving only a few days before House of Saud capo King Salman drops in for a chat at Trump’s White House. The soft power move was coordinated by the 32-year-old Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, the Destroyer of Yemen; the king merely added his signature.The diversionary tactic masks serious trouble in the court. A Gulf business source with intimate knowledge of the House of Saud, having held a number of personal meetings with members, told Asia Times that “the Fahd, Nayef, and Abdullah families, the descendants of King Abdulaziz al Saud and his wife Hassa bin Ahmed al-Sudairi, are forming an alliance against the ascendancy to the Kingship of the Crown Prince.”

Source: Wheels and Deals: Trouble Brewing in the House of Saud

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Saudi Arabia lifting the driving ban is little more than a glitzy distraction from its continued geopolitical problems

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a media-savvy man, and he has just pressed the button he knew would make headlines: Saudi women will be able to drive for the first time in the history of the kingdom. And the act begat the headlines and the headlines begat a tweet from the President of the United States who himself begat a $110bn arms contract with the Saudis three months ago. And so it came to pass. For 24 hours, the world was told about the lifting of the driving ban rather than the chopping-off of heads, the arrest of human rights activists and the horrific war in Yemen.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/saudi-arabia-woman-driving-ban-lift-yemen-civil-war-gender-rights-qatar-middle-east-syria-kurdistan-a7970296.html

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Middle East

 

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