How Saudi Arabia Sows Instability

U.S. propaganda claims Iran causes Mideast instability, but the truth is that Saudi Arabia – from backing Islamic extremists to blockading and bombing Yemen – is the real culprit, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

By Paul R. Pillar

The anachronistic family enterprise known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long been politically fragile. In some respects it is remarkable that this entity has endured into the Twenty-first Century. A clan of royals lives on rake-offs from the country’s petroleum wealth, while using more of that wealth to buy off a fast-growing population.

President Trump shakes the hand of Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman on May 20, 2017. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

The Saudis have had to continue playing that game through vicissitudes of the oil market, on which the Saudi economy depends. The potential for breakdown has always been present. Now a king and his favorite — and ambitious and inexperienced — son are bringing the potential closer to becoming reality.

The power plays by that son, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), include the latest spectacular purge, which extends to senior princes in government as well as leading private-sector figures. The power plays flout some of the principal conventions through which the Saudi royals have held their enterprise together so far.

Although only one man can be king at a time, the system of rule to date has involved a distribution of power among different branches of the royal family. With the latest purge and the concentration of power in the young hands of MBS, that system is destroyed.

Another feature of the Saudi political scene over the past few decades has been a leaving open of the question of exactly where the royal succession, which had been working its way through sons of kingdom founder Abd al-Aziz, would go once the succession reached the grandsons of Abd al-Aziz.  There is no evident reason why MBS’s father Salman — the sixth Saudi king since the death of Abd al-Aziz in 1953 — should have had the prerogative of giving the nod to his favorite son as the holder of power in the following generation.

Salman himself was already showing signs of losing his faculties when he assumed the throne two years ago at age 79. Not only are there some other sons of Abd al-Aziz still around; there are also grandsons who would rank ahead of MBS in experience and demonstrated ability. Some of those grandsons are themselves sons of kings — such as the longtime intelligence chief and former Ambassador to the United States and to Britain, Prince Turki bin Faisal.

No matter how smooth has been the purge and how much window dressing about family approval adorned the king’s earlier naming of MBS as crown prince, there is bound to be significant resentment and opposition within the royal family over MBS’s power grab. Discontented royals can seek common cause with sources of discontent outside the royal family. That is a prescription for even greater internal instability in the kingdom.

The young prince’s audacious moves bring to mind the power plays of another favorite son in a family autocracy, Kim Jong Un of North Korea. The two heirs are nearly the same age; MBS is a year and half younger than Kim. Both have unhesitatingly purged people without letting family ties get in the way.

The North Korean princeling’s purges have involved killing the victims — with anti-aircraft guns reportedly often being the weapon of choice. The far milder Saudi method has been to incarcerate purged individuals at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. This is obviously a more humane approach, although one has to wonder whether MBS has crossed a Rubicon beyond which only something closer to Kim-style ruthlessness will enable him to keep rivals out of the way.

Wider Implications

The internal Saudi instability is important for outsiders, including the United States, regarding the need to realize what they are embracing when they choose to embrace a ruler such as MBS. (For a reminder of the implications of such an embrace, look at the other side of the Persian Gulf and recall what happened to U.S. influence following Washington’s close embrace of the shah of Iran.)

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman to the Pentagon, March 16, 2017. (DoD photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

In addition, there are external implications. MBS’s internal machinations are related to the export of instability from Saudi Arabia to the rest of the region. This is partly a matter of how the concentration of power in MBS’s young hands amplifies the effects of rashness and inexperience. It also is a matter of how rulers have long used external conflicts to complement their solidification of internal power, by providing a distraction from internal problems and benefiting from nationalist sentiment.

Saudi Arabia was already, even before the rise of MBS, a source of instability and a practitioner of throwing weight around elsewhere in the region. Its moves have included the use of armed force to suppress the Shia majority under Sunni rule in Bahrain, and the stoking of civil war in Syria in collusion with extremists of the Al Qaeda stripe (longstanding Saudi dalliance with whom has been another Saudi channel for exporting mayhem, whether intentionally or not).

MBS is moving faster and farther along this trajectory of regional destabilization. The prime exhibit is the disastrous war in Yemen, with the Saudi and Emirati offensive taking an internal conflict that was about tribal disaffection from the Yemeni government and turning it into an international humanitarian catastrophe.

The emboldened prince will make the situation even more catastrophic. Shortly after his purge in Riyadh he announced he was making the partial blockade of Yemen a total blockade of all ground, air and sea ports, thereby further extending collective punishment of the Yemeni people in a vain effort to salvage some kind of win.

No more successful has been the attempt to bring Qatar to heel. All that this effort has accomplished so far is an increase in tensions and animosity in the Persian Gulf region.

Destabilizing Lebanon

Now, also coincident with the purge, is a new Saudi move to politically destabilize Lebanon.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri meeting with Saudi King Salman, shown in a Twitter post from Nov. 6, 2017.

The announcement by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that he is resigning was patently managed by the Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia is where the Hariri family made its fortune, where Saad Hariri still holds citizenship, and where the resignation announcement was made. The apparent Saudi intention is to stir the Lebanese pot in a way that somehow would be disadvantageous to Hezbollah, which is a partner in the governing Lebanese coalition.

But all the move has done so far is to make Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah look honest and perceptive in noting the Saudi role in the move, and to make him look reasonable in being the one who wants stability in coalition politics in Lebanon rather than seeking crisis and confrontation.

A major theme in MBS’s regional maneuvers is hostility toward Hezbollah’s ally Iran. An irony in this mess, given how “Iran’s destabilizing behavior” is a favorite theme of the forces hostile to Iran, is that the destabilization and the seeking of crisis and confrontation and even war are coming predominantly from MBS’s Saudi Arabia, with an assist from the Netanyahu government in Israel.

The contrived nature of the Saudi maneuver in Lebanon is illustrated by a statement from the Saudi minister for Gulf affairs. Using a chain of reasoning that with Hariri gone, there is “no more distinction between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government,” the minister proclaimed that Saudi Arabia will treat the Lebanese as “a government declaring war.” This is in response to a political crisis that Saudi Arabia intentionally initiated. There is no indication that Iran lifted a finger to bring about any of it.

The Trump administration is worse than oblivious to all this; it is stoking it. While the President tweets about which stock exchange should be used for an initial public offering of shares in Aramco, at least as important a figure is another princeling. That would be the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who reportedly has hit it off well with his fellow thirty-something MBS and visited the Saudi crown prince just days before the purge.

This relationship is part of a mutual admiration society that also includes the United Arab Emirates’ de facto leader and Abu Dhabi crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, and the Emirati ambassador in Washington. With everyone swaying to the same tune of seeking confrontation with Iran, it is hard to gauge exactly how much each party is influencing the others.  But if the current U.S. policies toward the Persian Gulf players continue, then the United States will be complicit in the increased regional instability that the young autocrat in Riyadh is bringing about.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

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36 comments for “How Saudi Arabia Sows Instability

  1. November 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    It seems that subsidizing the campaigns of American congressional reps and endowing U.S. “think tanks” is a lot cheaper for the Saudis than paying for all the wars they instigate…and that red carpet treatment of Trump is really having a payoff! The purged heads of the princes are less likely to roll under an axe than find solace in their vast holdings of foreign real estate.

    • john wilson
      November 10, 2017 at 6:25 am

      BooH, if you really want to see how think tanks really ‘think’ have a look at Oksana Boyho’s interview with Mathew Kroenig on RT. It was aired on the 23rd of July this year. Kroenig is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. Listening to this character talk will send shivers down your spine.

      • November 10, 2017 at 9:47 am

        “Listening to this character talk will send shivers down your spine.” yes, indeed, John, … Kroenig was absolutely robotic. Although Oksana does some great interviews I was disappointed that she didn’t mention Saudi and Gulf State funding of American think tanks.

    • Sam F
      November 10, 2017 at 7:32 am

      While the Saudis can promote Sunni insurgencies, they apparently have little ground force beyond mercenaries, cannot launch a conventional war without US weapons, and have little influence in the US without alliance with the zionists, having no control of mass media, far fewer bribery channels, and little popular support.

      The article seeks to conceal zionist warmongering by promoting the Saudis as primary warmongers. But clearly it is the zionists who control Congress through campaign bribes, and control nearly all US mass media. All of Hillary’s top ten campaign donors were all zionists, not one of them was a Saudi, Congress is bribed largely by (and gives multiple standing ovations to) the Israelis not the Saudis, and zionists control nearly all US mass media directly and/or indirectly.

  2. Drew Hunkins
    November 9, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Killary admitted herself, in the internal record, she clearly said that the Saudi government (she specifically said ‘government’) is supporting ISIS in Syria.

    Straight from the Wall Street sycophant warmonger’s mouth: Saudi government officials support Takfiri al Nusra ISIS al Qaeda Daesh.

    • November 9, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      The Saudi’s funneling of money referenced in Hillary’s email is a “non-news story” only because it is precisely what allows the U.S. plausible deniability as we continue to support, arm and use jihadists to destabilize first Libya, and now Syria. The Saudi’s like the Israeli’s help with our dirty work in the Middle East while providing cover for the CIA and U.S. deep state interests at play. Our three nations combine to form one big cesspool of corruption and lawlessness.

  3. Abe
    November 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Paul Pillar offers up his own signature “hard to guage” brand of Hasbara propaganda.

    Pillar takes great pains to ‘splain’ Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman’s “maneuvers”.

    For one of the CIA’s top analysts, it’s damnably “hard to gauge exactly how much each party is influencing the others”.

    The obviously perplexed Pillar finds it an “irony in this mess” that “destabilization and the seeking of crisis and confrontation and even war are coming predominantly from MBS’s Saudi Arabia”, requiring a mere “assist” from the Netanyahu regime in Israel.

    Pillar’s “irony” evaporates when the heroic “influencing” efforts of the pro-Israel Lobby are taken into account.

    The Israeli-Saudi-US Axis of Evil is visibly re-orienting its war efforts.

    With the rollback of ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorist proxy forces in Syria, and the failure of Kurdish separatist efforts in Iraq, Israel plans to launch military attacks against southern Lebanon and Syria.

    Saudi Arabia and the United States are very much available to “assist” the upcoming Israeli military adventure.

    South Front has presented a cogent and fairly detailed analysis of Israel’s upcoming war in southern Lebanon.

    Conspicuously absent from the South Front analysis is any discussion of the Israeli planned assault on Syria, or possible responses to the conflict from the United States or Russia.

    Israeli propaganda preparations for attack are already in high gear. Unfortunately, sober heads are in perilously short supply in Israel and the U.S., so the prognosis can hardly be optimistic.

    “Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

    Over time, IDF’s military effectiveness had declined. […] In the Second Lebanon War of 2006 due to the overwhelming numerical superiority in men and equipment the IDF managed to occupy key strong points but failed to inflict a decisive defeat on Hezbollah. The frequency of attacks in Israeli territory was not reduced; the units of the IDF became bogged down in the fighting in the settlements and suffered significant losses. There now exists considerable political pressure to reassert IDF’s lost military dominance and, despite the complexity and unpredictability of the situation we may assume the future conflict will feature only two sides, IDF and Hezbollah. Based on the bellicose statements of the leadership of the Jewish state, the fighting will be initiated by Israel.

    “The operation will begin with a massive evacuation of residents from the settlements in the north and centre of Israel. Since Hezbollah has agents within the IDF, it will not be possible to keep secret the concentration of troops on the border and a mass evacuation of civilians. Hezbollah units will will be ordered to occupy a prepared defensive position and simultaneously open fire on places were IDF units are concentrated. The civilian population of southern Lebanon will most likely be evacuated. IDF will launch massive bombing causing great damage to the social infrastructure and some damage to Hezbollah’s military infrastructure, but without destroying the carefully protected and camouflaged rocket launchers and launch sites.

    “Hezbollah control and communications systems have elements of redundancy. Consequently, regardless of the use of specialized precision-guided munitions, the command posts and electronic warfare systems will not be paralysed, maintaining communications including through the use of fibre-optic communications means. IDF discovered that the movement has such equipment during the 2006 war. Smaller units will operate independently, working with open communication channels, using the pre-defined call signs and codes.

    “Israeli troops will then cross the border of Lebanon, despite the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, beginning a ground operation with the involvement of a greater number of units than in the 2006 war. The IDF troops will occupy commanding heights and begin to prepare for assaults on settlements and actions in the tunnels. The Israelis do not score a quick victory as they suffer heavy losses in built-up areas. The need to secure occupied territory with patrols and checkpoints will cause further losses.

    “The fact that Israel itself started the war and caused damage to the civilian infrastructure, allows the leadership of the movement to use its missile arsenal on Israeli cities. While Israel’s missile defence systems can successfully intercept the launched missiles, there are not enough of them to blunt the bombardment. The civilian evacuation paralyzes life in the country. As soon IDF’s Iron Dome and other medium-range systems are spent on short-range Hezbollah rockets, the bombardment of Israel with long-range missiles may commence. Hezbollah’s Iranian solid-fuel rockets do not require much time to prepare for launch and may target the entire territory of Israel, causing further losses.

    “It is difficult to assess the duration of actions of this war. One thing that seems certain is that Israel shouldn’t count on its rapid conclusion, similar to last September’s exercises. Hezbollah units are stronger and more capable than during the 2006 war, despite the fact that they are fighting in Syria and suffered losses there.

    “Conclusions

    “The combination of large-scale exercises and bellicose rhetoric is intended to muster Israeli public support for the aggression against Hezbollah by convincing the public the victory would be swift and bloodless. Instead of restraint based on a sober assessment of relative capabilities, Israeli leaders appear to be in a state of blood lust. In contrast, the Hezbollah has thus far demonstrated restraint and diplomacy.

    “Underestimating the adversary is always the first step towards a defeat. Such mistakes are paid for with soldiers’ blood and commanders’ careers. The latest IDF exercises suggest Israeli leaders underestimate the opponent and, more importantly, consider them to be quite dumb. In reality, Hezbollah units will not cross the border. There is no need to provoke the already too nervous neighbor and to suffer losses solely to plant a flag and photograph it for their leader. For Hezbollah, it is easier and safer when the Israeli soldiers come to them. According to the IDF soldiers who served in Gaza and southern Lebanon, it is easier to operate on the plains of Gaza than the mountainous terrain of southern Lebanon. This is a problem for armoured vehicles fighting for control of heights, tunnels, and settlements, where they are exposed to anti-armor weapons.

    “While the Israeli establishment is in a state of patriotic frenzy, it would be a good time for them to turn to the wisdom of their ancestors. After all, as the old Jewish proverb says: ‘War is a big swamp, easy to go into but hard to get out’.”

    Israeli Defense Forces: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War
    https://southfront.org/israeli-defense-forces-military-capabilities-scenarios-for-the-third-lebanon-war/

    In any event, let’s give poor perplexed Pillar some help and simply say that what’s going on here ain’t the Saudis “influencing” Israel or Israel offering the Saudis a li’l “assist”.

    • jo6pac
      November 9, 2017 at 3:30 pm

      I agree Abe. He also leaves out that Hariri had no power at all it’s president Anoun that is the power and is friends with Hezbollah. The Lebanese army has been working with Hezbollah, Syrian, Iraq, armies at their shared borders. If israel or the house of saud did do something stupid which I don’t put pass them I doubt Russia would just stand on the sidelines like they did with Libya and got burned.

      http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/11/defeated-elsewhere-saudi-ruler-declares-war-on-lebanon.html

    • Sam F
      November 10, 2017 at 7:24 am

      Yes, the article appears to be intended to attack those who reveal zionist warmongering influence, by promoting the Saudis as primary warmongers. But they apparently have little ground force beyond mercenaries, cannot launch a conventional war without US support, and have relatively little influence in the US, having no control of mass media, far fewer bribery channels, and little popular support.

    • Abe
      November 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      After Israel’s first military invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Israel continued occupying southern Lebanon from 1985 to 2000. After the last Israeli troops left Lebanon in 2000, Israel continued to systematically violate Lebanese territory.

      Nabih Berri, Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon, noted the Lebanese had violated the Blue Line less than 100 times between 2000 and 2006, while “the number of Israeli violations was 11,782 times, by air, sea and land” during the same time.

      Six months before Israel’s second military invasion of Lebanon, Lebanese President Michel Aoun with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in Mar Mikhayel Church, Chiyah. The venue symbolizes Christian-Muslim coexistence as the Church, located in the heart of the mainly Muslim Beirut southern suburb, was preserved throughout the wars.

      The Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah organized relations between the Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon’s largest Christian political party, and the Hezbollah Islamic party.

      Hezbollah’s conditions for agreement included the return of Lebanese prisoners from Israeli jails and the elaboration of a defense strategy to protect Lebanon from the Israeli threat. The agreement also emphasized the importance of having normal diplomatic relations with Syria.

      Since the the Syrian military departure from Lebanon in 2005, Aoun has been seeking to improve his country’s relationship with Syria. He has treated all Lebanese parties as potential partners in the process of change and reform of the country. The Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah enters in this context.

      It is important to note that Hezbollah is opposed by all the Israeli-Saudi-US Axis-backed terrorist groups fighting against the people of Syria: Al-Nusra Front and all Al-Qaeda affiliates, ISIS, and the so-called Free Syrian Army.

      Israel continues to routinely violate the territorial sovereignty of Lebanon and Syria, and has prepared to launch a long-planned attack on both countries.

      The Israelis rejects the right of neighboring nations to conduct their own affairs and organize their own defense against Israel’s aggression.

      Israel’s upcoming third military invasion of Lebanon adds to the list of flagrant Israeli violations of international law.

      Israel’s next war of aggression against both Lebanon and Syria is backed by Saudi Arabia and, like all previous Israeli invasions of Lebanon, equipped and enabled by the United States.

  4. mike k
    November 9, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    War is putting the finishing touches on the moral collapse of humanity. We humans have become the most monstrous and evil species on the planet. Our departure will be a blessing to all other forms of life here. May our reign of terror be ended soon…..

  5. mike k
    November 9, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
    As I foretold you, were all spirits and
    Are melted into air, into thin air:
    And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
    The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
    And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
    Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on, and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.

    William Shakespeare
    From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

    • Abe
      November 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Our revels now are ended…

      Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
      And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
      Leave not Iraq behind.

      • mike k
        November 10, 2017 at 8:31 am

        Good one Abe!

  6. John P
    November 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Good article, and in support one should visit the expert Middle east Middle East at The Independent, Robert Fisk. This is his latest article:

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

    “He certainly did not anticipate what happened to him. Indeed, Hariri had scheduled meetings in Beirut on the following Monday – with the IMF, the World Bank and a series of discussions on water quality improvement; not exactly the action of a man who planned to resign his premiership.”

    “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.”

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

  7. November 9, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Saudi Arabia does more than sow “Instability.” I believe it has western “governments” grovelling and kissing their posteriors. Victims abound and justice needs to be rendered. But don’t bank on it. See link below for more info.
    November 6, 2017
    Who Will Remember the Victims of Present Day War Criminals?
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/11/who-will-remember-victims-of-present.html

  8. backwardsevolution
    November 9, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Off topic: “Washington will apply its Foreign Agents Registration Act to RT America, the channel has announced. The Department of Justice has given the broadcaster until Monday to register as a foreign agent, otherwise the channel’s head faces arrest and its accounts could be frozen.”

    https://www.rt.com/news/409349-rt-foreign-agent-doj/

    But not AIPAC?

    • November 9, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      b.e.,…bad news, but thanks

  9. backwardsevolution
    November 9, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel has advised its ambassadors to lobby host governments.

    “Early this morning, Israeli Channel 10 news published a leaked diplomatic cable which had been sent to all Israeli ambassadors throughout the world concerning the chaotic events that unfolded over the weekend in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, which began with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s unexpected resignation after he was summoned to Riyadh by his Saudi-backers, and led to the Saudis announcing that Lebanon had “declared war” against the kingdom.

    The classified embassy cable, written in Hebrew, constitutes the first formal evidence proving that the Saudis and Israelis are deliberately coordinating to escalate the situation in the Middle East. […]

    The Israeli reporter who obtained the document is Barak Ravid, senior diplomatic correspondent for Channel 10 News. Ravid announced the following through Twitter yesterday:

    I published on channel 10 a cable sent to Israeli diplomats asking to lobby for Saudis/Harir and against Hezbollah. The cable sent from the MFA in Jerusalem [Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs] to all Israeli embassies toes the Saudi line regarding the Hariri resignation.

    The Israeli diplomats were instructed to demarch their host governments over the domestic political situation in Lebanon – a very rare move.

    The cable said: “You need to stress that the Hariri resignation shows how dangerous Iran and Hezbollah are for Lebanon’s security.”

    “Hariri’s resignation proves wrong the argument that Hezbollah participation in the government stabilizes Lebanon,” the cable added.

    The cable instructed Israeli diplomats to support Saudi Arabia over its war with the Houthis in Yemen. The cable also stressed: “The missile launch by the Houthis towards Riyadh calls for applying more pressure on Iran & Hezbollah.”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-07/leaked-secret-israeli-cable-confirms-israeli-saudi-coordination-lebanon

  10. backwardsevolution
    November 9, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    “The Great Gas War has already two distinct fronts: The now relatively quiet Northern Front in Ukraine and the Southern Front in Syria in which the Western empire has been losing. It looks to me that Lebanon is being targeted as the next front, where the West hopes its losses might be recouped. Yesterday, November 6th, Reuters reported, “Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.” This comes after Israel, Saudi’s long time though largely unofficial best friend in the region, has been very publicly preparing to renew its own war with Lebanon – or more accurately with Hezbollah. As the American news journal Newsweek put it recently, “ISRAEL PREPARES FOR ANOTHER WAR WITH HEZBOLLAH AS IDF PRACTICES LEBANON INVASION.”

    Why now and why Lebanon? Well the rulers of Saudi, a Sunni dominated country, will tell us that it is because Hezbollah is a Shia terrorist organisation. “Hezbollah” literally means the “Party of Allah” or “Party of God”. Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan yesterday pointedly referred to Hezbollah as, “the Lebanese Party of the Devil”. Saudi is not alone of course, Hezbollah has also been listed as a terrorist organisation by America, Israel, the Arab League, the UK and the EU. It is also, however, part of the popular government of Lebanon having seats in its parliament. I suggest, however, a powerful reason that a new war with Hezbollah may be in the offing is because Lebanon is the next link in any gas pipeline that could potentially bring Iranian gas to Europe.

    That was the reason the West decided to “liberate” the Syrian people and it will be why they decide to enforce the same salvation upon the people of Lebanon. Having failed to liberate the Syrians, Saudi, the West, its Sunni Gulf allies and Israel will now see if they can succeed in blocking any Iranian gas ambitions by liberating the Lebanese from their own government. I would not be surprised to hear quite soon from opposition groups vocally denouncing the government or at least Hezbollah. I expect spokes people from those groups to suddenly get a global platform alongside American and regional supporters such as Saudi.”

  11. backwardsevolution
    November 9, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    How Broke is the House of Saud?

    “And then you have the 15,000 princes and princesses who all live off of the Kingdom’s supposed riches (‘only 2,000’ profit directly). All of them live in -relative- wealth. Some more than others, but there’s no hunger in the royal family. Thing is, overall population growth outdoes even that in the royal family. Which means, since the country produces nothing except for oil, that there are 1000s upon 1000s of young people with nothing to do but spend money that’s no longer there. Cue mayhem.”

    And cue seizing of assets, or at least the freezing of their assets – so far $800 billion. This guy has got balls or very good U.S./Israeli backing, or maybe both.

    “The kingdom’s broke. Not today, or tomorrow morning, but crown prince MBS is able to look at the numbers and go: Oh Shit! And if he doesn’t see it, he has Kushner (re: Israel) and Al-Otaiba to fill him in. All three relative youngsters – MBS is 32, Kushner is 36, Otaiba is 43 – are exceedingly nervous by now.

    And then you get war, or the threat of war. War in Yemen, a blockade of Qatar, and now ‘mingling’ in Lebanon with the somewhat mysterious removal of billionaire PM Hariri -allegedly on an Iran/Hezbollah assassination plot-, and outright threats against Iran and Hezbollah.”

    I guess the princes under house arrest did not agree with the crown prince.

    “With money comes power. Who loses money loses power. Saudi Arabia is bleeding money. The population surge is uncanny, and there are no jobs for all these young people. Perhaps the best they can do is be a US/Israel puppet in an attempt to ‘redo’ the map of the Middle East, but that has not been a very successful project off late -like the past 100 years-.

    Then again, when you’re desperate you do desperate things. And when you’re a 32-year-old crown prince with more enemies than you can keep track of, you use what money is left to 1) keep up appearances, 2) steal what others have gathered, 3) buy weapons up the wazoo, and 4) go to war.”

    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2017/11/how-broke-is-the-house-of-saud/

  12. November 9, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Is more war coming? See article below.
    ————————————————————-
    “Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE urge citizen to stay out of Lebanon
    Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait urged their citizens to leave Lebanon amid rising tensions with the Hezbollah militia, following a similar move from Bahrain. France’s Emmanuel Macron arrived in Riyadh for a surprise visit.”
    09.11.2017

    http://www.dw.com/en/saudi-arabia-kuwait-uae-urge-citizen-to-stay-out-of-lebanon/a-41322875

  13. November 9, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    What You’re Not Being Told About the Royal Crisis in Saudi Arabia
    By Darius Shahtahmasebi
    The Anti-Media
    November 9, 2017

    In actuality, the available evidence that has come to light in recent weeks is that it was Saudi Arabia that actively coordinated an act of aggression on the sovereign nation of Syria in 2013. It has also come to light that a leaked cable, written in Hebrew, allegedly shows Saudi-Israeli collusion to provoke a war with Lebanon. It should be noted that the mainstream media and the governments that run in tandem with the media have paid close to zero attention to this, despite how damning the conclusion is….
    [read more at link below]
    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/11/no_author/what-youre-not-being-told-about-the-royal-crisis-in-saudi-arabia-2/

  14. Abe
    November 9, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Channel 10, the only Israeli broadcast Channel to be carried by local Cables in North America and Europe, reports that Israeli Prime Minister PM Netanyahu was questioned by police in corruption investigation while the Israeli Air Force concluded its largest-ever air defense drill

    https://twitter.com/news10/status/928722090047483905

    • Abe
      November 9, 2017 at 8:45 pm

      “assist”

      Mohammad bin Salman is busy giving Bibi a reach around to relieve his stress a wee bit.

      You see, Bibi hasn’t had a chance to really “go nuts” for a while.

      But don’t worry.

      John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and the whole pro-Israel Lobby are ready, prepared to supply Bibi with all the propaganda lube and triple-strength military Viagra he needs to get his “nuts” off.

      Soon there’ll be one more big circle jerk for the Israeli-Saudi-US Ass-Kiss of Evil.

    • Abe
      November 9, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      “assist” part duh

      Eliot Higgins is gettin’ busy with a “fresh” dollop of Bellingcat propaganda lube and his own reach around so Bibi can totally “go nuts” in Syria as well as Lebanon.

      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/11/09/fresh-evidence-sarin-use-syrian-government-forces-opcw/

      Higgins proudly notes that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – United Nations Joint Investigative Mission report on Syria “lists open sources in the annexes, many of which were examined in an October 2017 Bellingcat article, along with witness statements and evidence provided by witnesses to Bellingcat”

      The OPCW-JIM report is basically a Bellingcat “investigation” dressed in drag.

      Like the OPCW, the entire “First Draft” chorus of zealous war propagandists “shares” Higgins’ scatological fetish for holes and chemical agents.

      The “First Draft” propaganda “partners” are all gettin’ busy and crankin’ it real hard.

  15. LJ
    November 9, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Comments are regulated and controlled here now.. There is no Free Speech or Free exchange of ideas. Question: When has any country been allowed to place another country’s Prime Minister under arrest , make him read a prepared speech on International television and resign his office and then summoned Foreign Secretaries from European Countries to come and talk to this man (Harari) like he is still in power when in fact he has been forced to relinquish power. This is Medieval at best and apparently the Trump Administration supports this and documents leaked and published in Israel and elsewhere fron the Government of Israel to it’s Foreign Service show that Israel actively supports Saudi policy regarding Lebanon. 2 fun facts to know and tell under Hararis leadership in Lebanon,Prime Minister Harari Sr.’s family fortune increased over $10 bllion US through some kind of miracle. During his son’s tenure as Prime Minister Lebanon never had a budget or any fiduciary oversight or responsibility regarding Lebanon’s Government’s expenditures. This is fact that you would know if you had been following Lebanon’s political situation as long as I have. The Young Prince in Saudi Arabia could not take these steps without the tacit support of the US and a couple of it’s important allies

  16. Dr. K
    November 10, 2017 at 2:44 am

    The way I see it, MBS is the best thing that has happened in Saudi Arabia in decades. He is more modern, wants to increase women in the work-force, and transform Saudi Arabia’s economy.

    The problem with Saudi Arabia’s government – like the US government – is a bunch of old dudes that are behind the times and have only 2 or 3 operating brain cells in their head. Men and women with the ability to smooze and a lack of leadership and analytical skill seems to be the norm in just about every country on this planet.

    Overall, I find the analysis provided by Pillar to be a sad commentary on the state of the CIA/DC mentality and the retreading of agendas and positions that make no sense. But this is what I have come to expect from our “intelligence” community.

    The problem solving ability of these Deep State government people is bad. Thank God for Trump and his business-like approach to problem solving – otherwise these people would destroy our country – they were doing a fabulous job of it before Trump got elected.

    • mike k
      November 10, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Trump and MBS as our saviors?? Gimmie a break……..

      • Dr. K
        November 10, 2017 at 11:22 am

        Not saviors. Players that understand. Can’t say the same for the majority of the US Congress, the CIA, etc. The old and bad must go – and that includes the majority of the US Congress, the Foreign Policy brass, and the warmongering jerks that have killed millions and created a massive refugee crisis. It is time for the world to reign in the criminal sociopaths and their ilk that exploit populations for money and power. Ask Donna Brazille – she will tell you because she knows there is a much higher power.

        Every government in the world – including the Saudi’s and the US – needs to shape up right now.

        The Almighty is speaking. Can you hear it?

  17. November 10, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Trouble in Saudi-land? Article at link below.
    ————————————————————————-
    EXCLUSIVE: Senior Saudi figures tortured and beaten in purge
    #SaudiPurge
    Several detainees taken to hospital with torture injuries, while sources tell MEE scale of crackdown is bigger than authorities have revealed

    David Hearst
    Thursday 9 November 2017 21:48 UTC
    Last update:
    Friday 10 November 2017 13:47 UTC

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-senior-figures-tortured-and-beaten-saudi-purge-1489501498

  18. Abe
    November 10, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    A factor in Israel’s Saudi-backed destabilizing drive for war with Lebanon and Syria is the Netanyahu regime’s ‘greater Jerusalem’ annexation agenda.

    Israel’s upcoming attack on Lebanon and Syria likely will be used to advance annexation under the guise of ‘security measures’.

    American journalist and author Ramzy Baroud discusses Israel’s ‘creeping annexation’ tactics:

    “Israel wants to maintain an absolute demographic Jewish majority in Jerusalem, including in occupied, and illegally annexed Palestinian East Jerusalem. There is enough support in the Knesset and among the public to ensure that coveted Jewish dominance. But the political balances, and possible drawbacks, are just too delicate and great for Israel to get exactly what it wants, even if there is a clear consensus among Israeli Jewish politicians and the public to permanently change the status of the city.

    “One of the factors that the Israeli government is considering is the support of the Donald Trump administration. How far will Trump go to support Israeli transgressions […]

    “While paying lip service to peace, Netanyahu has no intentions of allowing a Palestinian state to ever take shape, and is tactically working to ensure a complete physical partition between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, while, simultaneously linking major settlement blocs to Jerusalem.

    “One of such efforts includes the recent decision to completely destroy two Palestinian villages of Khan Al-Ahmar (located in the E-1 corridor which connects Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim) and Susya. The ethnic cleansing plan was described by Israeli rights group, B’Tselem, as ‘virtually unprecedented.’

    “But Netanyahu had to temporarily flout his own method of ‘creeping annexation’ of Palestinian land to join the burgeoning movement championed by Katz and others, who call for wholesale annexation and dramatic steps to ensure Jewish dominance.

    “By doing so, he was prepared to deal with another popular Palestinian revolt, similar to the one that culminated last July in protest of Israel’s closure of al-Haram al-Sharif/al-Aqsa compound.

    “However, pressure emanating in Washington, which reportedly took place just as the Knesset’s ministerial committee on legislation was preparing to approve the Bill on October 29, ended the Israeli maneuver for now.

    “It was Netanyahu’s office that postponed the Bill again, fearing to upset the special relationship he has managed to espouse under the Trump presidency.”

    ‘Creeping Annexation’: Why Israel Shelved the ‘Greater Jerusalem Law’
    By Ramzy Baroud
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/10/creeping-annexation-why-israel-shelved-the-greater-jerusalem-law/

  19. CliffSideView
    November 11, 2017 at 12:48 am

    This is a brilliant piece by Paul R. Pillar and something that has come out of deep thought. The Sunni Islam specifically Wahabi Islam is a major threat to the world stability. Trump giving this crown prince any leeway is going to come back and bite us hard in the back. Long before the Saudi ARAMCO was released, I had read a brilliant risk assessment of the geopolitics around the upcoming IPO. It seems like the assessment was spot on and the predictions are playing out neatly.

    https://www.perchingtree.com/saudi-aramco-ipo-key-risks-loom-for-investors/

  20. November 11, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    The tenor of this diatribe appears to be that Iran and the Shia are just reacting to Saudi and other Sunni power grabs aided by Israel. If these actions are so dastardly that the USA should withdraw its support for the evil doers and help the opposition.
    That would deliver the Fertile Crescent to Iran and Russia.
    The whole tract fails to mention the roles of the UK and US in bringing the Middle East to its present state. Start with the UK promising Palestine to Jews and arabs. Then the US abandonment of the Shah and Saddam Hussein. Yes, they were both our boys. Bush and Cheney really fouled up when they let up on the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to grab Iraq’s oil. Obama said he would do something if Syria repeated its use of poison gas on civilians and failed to do so. Things are so muddled that the US is helping Iran and the Shia take over Iraq. We are telling the Kurds, our only true Moslem allies, to step down from independence.
    So make a choice, Sunni represented by Saudi Arabia or Shia upheld by Iran. This is the basic fight and it has been going on for over a thousand years.

    • Zachary Smith
      November 12, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      Obama said he would do something if Syria repeated its use of poison gas on civilians and failed to do so.

      Couldn’t make sense of most of this, but the quoted part really stood out.

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