|The recent death-dive of Saudi foreign exchange reserves|
|Saudi GDP per capita was the highest in the world in 1980 (IMF). The US only caught up when oil prices collapsed.|
|Before he US invasion of Iraq sent oil prices into outer space, Saudi had no cash reserves, tons of debt (the bars), and low oil income, yet survived.|
|One-eyed Abdulaziz trying to convince the USA not to swat him like a fly while learning to sit in a chair at the same time. He brought eight sheep with him on the warship. Churchill, who met him the next day, didn’t even know who he was.|
|The crash of oil prices was caused by the 2 million barrels a day of extra crude that the US dumped on the market since 2011, which the global economy could not absorb, as it was struggling to recover from the 2008 financial crash, also made in the USA.|
As oil prices and Saudi’s war expenses go in opposite directions, there are about as many pundits predicting Saudi’s near demise as there are scoffing at the very thought. Still, the chart looks pretty scary, as does the number 2.4%, which is the amount of Saudi’s forex reserves it took to get the country through January. The IMF gave the tribal state 5 years until it goes bust but at this rate, their remaining $594 billion will be gone by August 2020.
However Saudi has had a lot less cash for a very long time and managed to score as high a GDP per capita as the post-Iraq oil bubble blesses it with today. It has also been deep in debt, as opposed to cash-rich, after the oil price crash of 1980, yet muddled through. So why should it worry now just because its pile of cash got sightly less enormous? It’ll just get a loan until oil prices recover, right? I mean who wouldn’t lend money to the goose with the golden eggs?
Somehow, investors don’t see it that way. There’s a thing called a Credit Default Swap (CDS) which is basically an insurance policy against a debt default. It’s a far more reliable gauge of investment value than agency credit ratings, since rating agencies collect their fees from the actual people they are rating: Not a great system, as recent experience with AAA-rated subprime mortgages proved.
Saudi just got downgraded by Standard & Poors two whole levels from A+ (Japan) to A- (Malaysia), just four months after downgrading it from AA- to A+. That’s still 3 grades above junk, so not bad, right? Except when you look at where Saudi’s CDS rates are, should it choose to borrow on the international market, you see that the guys who can actually lend it money, instead of just take its money to give it a grade, think its investment value is the same as Portugal’s, i.e. junk. If agency ratings were any good, Saudi would be rated BB, 3 steps below where it is now.
What makes Saudi’s position hopeless – and I weight my words – is the perfect storm that its primitive rulers have brought upon themselves with their conceited and short-sighted belief that they could throw money around from their recently-amassed mountain of cash and defeat all their enemies in one fell swoop. Before going into the different weather systems that combine to create the perfect Saud-killing storm, we should keep in mind the single cause that has created all this extreme weather: The bottomless stupidity, ignorance, bigotry, and arrogance of these bedouin tribal chiefs who sit atop the world’s most valuable oil reserves for no other reason than that the British Empire put them there and the US empire saw it convenient that they should remain. If you think that’s hyperbole then read about how the measly sheepherd Abdulaziz had no illusions whatsoever who the real “sultan” of Arabia was:
The sultan of Najd, Abdelaziz al-Saud bowed his head before the British High Commissioner in Percy Cox’s Iraq. His voice quavered, and then he started begging with humiliation: “Your grace are my father and you are my mother. I can never forget the debt I owe you. You made me and you held my hand, you elevated me and lifted me. I am prepared, at your beckoning, to give up for you now half of my kingdom…no, by Allah, I will give up all of my kingdom, if your grace commands me!”
–Servant of the British Empire: On the founding of Ibn Saud’s kingdom
The oil price spike that started with the US’s invasion of Iraq – an invasion that the oil company executives in the White House had promised would bring oil back to $10 – introduced a decade of artificially high oil prices disconnected from supply and demand. An oil price bubble was created by banks, hedge funds, and oil companies although there was no scarcity of oil, in fact quite the opposite. Not only did investors make huge profits on oil futures contracts but US oil multinationals thoroughly gouged China, whose manufacturing-based economy was the world’s most energy-hungry. Meanwhile, high oil prices made the exploitation of US shale oil and deep sea oil reserves economically feasible, since both involved enormous investment and operating expenses. Banks actually hoarded oil in warehouses and tankers to take it off the market. Oil giants reduced refining and transport capacity to create artificial shortages.
Saudi looked on in puzzlement as prices broke through $150 despite slow sales. It reaped the windfall profits and amassed the huge war chest that Salman and his idiot son Mohammed are eating through these days, half suspecting what the bubble would lead to, i.e. US overproduction coupled with sluggish demand due to the burden of the high cost of energy on the global economy. Just as in 1980, high oil prices – imposed this time by Western financial speculators, not OPEC production cuts – helped slow down global economic growth to nearly a stop and almost on the day that the first tanker of export crude left the US, the price of crude plummeted to $30.
Abdullah (1) tried to be a reformer, though all he managed to do, in his last days, was to give women the right to vote in municipal elections (2) but at least got rid of the ogrish and very dangerous Nayef (3) though he failed to replace Salman (4) with Muqrin (5)
The oil price crash occurred at a time when Saudi transited out of the relatively prudent leadership of Abdullah bin Abulaziz, son of one-eyed Abdulaziz’s wife Fahda from the great Shammar tribe that is spread between Riyadh and Syria, passing through Iraq. During his reign, he held back the Sudairi Seven, the seven brothers issued from Abdulaziz’s bigot wife Hassa from the Najd, the dark southern birthplace of Wahhabism from where Mohammed prophesied the “horn of satan” would enter the world.
Abdullah led Saudi for 20 relatively stable years, the first five as a regent for the infirm Fahd, who was also a Sudairi and during whose lucid years Wahhabi mischief proliferated, from the Afghanistan jihad to the 1982 Hama jihad to backing Saddam against Iran to Chechnya. Abdullah tried to remove as many of the Sudairi Seven as he could, killing the worst one, interior minister Nayef, but failing, from his sickbed, to remove Salman from his position as crown prince before Salman could have him killed. So just as oil prices peaked, another deranged Sudairi became head of the Saudi tribe.
The new Saudi tribal chief Salman thought the best use for his new cash stash was to invade poor Yemen next door. The ignorance and incompetence that pervades his country turned the US Apache helicopters and Abrams tanks that he paid a fortune for into Yemeni target practice.
Admittedly, Abdullah engaged in some mischief of his own in Syria, not out of zealotry but because of the strategic threat posed by the US handover of Iraq to Iranian-backed Shiites, creating an unbroken Iranian-controlled “Shiite crescent” through four countries, as well as a possible pipeline route to the Mediterranean for Iran. The reason I’m harping on the difference between Abdullah and the Sudairis isn’t that Abdullah was a great guy but that the Sudairis are immeasurably worse, particularly in the idiot department.
The 1980 oil crash – that was the Sudairi Fahd and his cretin of an oil minister Yamani, descended from a line of Qadis and Muftis. Abdullah managed to hold Saudi’s head above the water during the lean years that followed, when GDP fell 20%. No such level-headed management is available today. Instead, the current batch of Sudairi morons are busy hiring armies from the far corners of Africa and Asia to fight a losing war in Yemen, having already spent billions trying vainly to topple Syria’s Assad. The only dubious distinction they have gained to date is to make Saudi Arabia the world’s top arms importer, up from No 6 in 2004-8 and No 4 in 2009-13.
To be fair, Saudi won that top prize during Abdullah’s watch. He is the one who signed all those “deal of the century” arms contracts, only he didn’t do it to get quagmired in Yemen but to get unquagmired from Syria: He bought piles of French, British, and US military junk not to start a new war but to buy the support of those countries to get him out of the one he’d gotten tar-babied to. It’s how France went from being the world’s 5th arms exporter to its 2nd and from a hijab-banning, Turkey-hating Islamophobic country to a jihadi, Turkey-backing Islamophobic country (see my Allons enfants du djihad post). It’s how London became Londonistan. It’s not, however, how Turkey’s Erdogan went from pro-democracy minority-friendly Islamist good cop to totalitarian, sectarian, and jihadist Islamist bad cop. As I explained in the second part of my Long War post, the deal Tayyip made with Saudi was for massive property purchases in Turkey. All of these generous distributions of bakhsheesh were Abdullah paying the very high price of buying allies for his obnoxious and parasitical regime when he realized he couldn’t topple Assad and that Assad would soon be coming after him.
When Abdullah was forced evict the US from Prince Sultan Airbase in 2005, Saudi was left pretty much naked and defenseless. The $60 billion arms deal in 2010 was his attempt to ensure his own defense rather than rely on the US.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that Saudi has never been a part of any international security alliance. None of its “friends” in the West are fool enough to sign up to defending a bunch of pre-medieval barbaric hopped-up Wahhabis in their tribal and sectarian wars. Despite this lack of formal allies, in 2003, Abdullah was left with no choice but to shoot himself in the foot by asking the US to pull out the 363d Air Expeditionary Wing from Prince Sultan Air Base, an event that was publicized in 2005 as “US forces leaving Saudi Arabia” although they still remained at over a half-dozen other bases in the country. Not only did Saudi thereby lose a powerful deterrent but allowed its detested rival sheikhdom Qatar to score a huge win by hosting the biggest US overseas base, Al Udeid, where the US aircraft leaving Prince Sultan went to perch.
|After 9/11, the Sudairis and their Wahhabi clergy allies targeted the most galling of Abdullah’s reforms, the Western-ish girls’ schools. The first one they burned in 2002 was in Mecca (the one in the photo is in Jeddah), making it clear that they were striking a blow for their insane idea of Allah.|
|At least as mind-boggling as the Kunduz “Airlift of Evil” was the entry of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards unit called the Badr Brigade, made up of Iraqi Shiite traitors, into Northern Iraq in March 2003, to assist the US occupation of Iraq.
AFP PHOTO/Behrouz MEHRI
Abdullah had to make this self-destructive move because after 9/11, the Sudairis capitalized on the local hero status of the 15 Saudi jihadis who had kamikazed into New York and Washington to accuse Abdullah of letting the US kuffars occupy the holy lands, echoing Bin Laden’s gripe against the regime during the Gulf War. Osama had driven his point home by blowing up US pilots from the King Abdulaziz airbase, the US’s first airbase in Saudi, in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, for which both Saudi and the US found it convenient to frame Iran and Shiites. Interior minister and big-time Al Qaeda backer Nayef ostensibly put down street demos against Abdullah but actually provoked them, notably by burning down a girls’ school (one of Abdullah’s reforms) and having his religion police force the girls fleeing the fire back into the flames because they hadn’t put on their abayas. This shocked even Saudis who, geniuses that they are, went out to protest Abdullah for it.
The upshot is, Abdullah could never know what these Wahhabi perverts would come up with next to topple him, so he sought to appease them by shutting down the largest US base. This lost deterrent seemed relatively unimportant when the US invaded Iraq, thus getting rid of the immediate danger of Saddam coming to Jeddah for his revenge. However when the US proved incapable of putting down the Baathist/Sunni insurgency in Iraq and let the Badr Brigade take over the job, alarm bells went off in Jeddah. The Badr Brigade was a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps made up of Iraqi Shiite traitors. The US had allowed the Iranian-allied force to enter Iraq, ostensibly so that it could police the southern Shiite provinces of Basra, Maysan, Karbala, etc., which the US didn’t have the manpower to do. For the Saudis, however, this was the US selling them down the river and plopping the Iranian army down squarely on their border.
It got worse: The US threw down the towel and instead of occupying Iraq or installing a more docile version of Saddam, it handed the keys of Baghdad to the Shiites and said it was leaving. Abdullah then told Cheney that if the US attempted to cut and run, he would support Sunni insurgents in Iraq and didn’t care how many US soldiers they killed. He did one better by creating Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS’s precursor. After that, Sunnis and Shiites started butchering each other with gusto and still haven’t stopped.
When not just Badr Brigade commander Hadi al Ameri (left) but his Iranian boss Qassem Soleimani (right) showed up in Iraq, Abdullah decided that the time for defense was over and started a proxy jihad against Iran’s ally Syria
By 2007, sophisticated Iranian-made IEDs had showed up in Iraq and in March 2009, a video appeared on the web showing Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s famous Quds Force commander, in the mountains of Iraq near the Iranian border. Abdullah knew that however many tanks and jets he had, as long as it was his fat, indolent, and spoiled countrymen who were manning them, they were no match for Soleimani’s forces, and neither were the Americans able to cope with Soleimani’s advanced IEDs.
He needed to do something fast to throw Iran off balance, so he started a jihad in Syria. Pretty soon, both Soleimani and the Badr Brigade got caught up in saving Assad, then in saving Iraq from ISIS. They no longer had any time to destabilize Saudi. Abdullah’s ploy worked, moving from defensive to offensive. Syria would keep his enemy Iran busy for at least a decade.
Bottom line: However loathsome the means, Abdullah nevertheless steered the Saudi ship through some pretty stormy waters and brought it to port brimming with petrodollars and as prepared as it ever would be to defend itself against its enemies. He paid down the huge debt chalked up by his Sudairi predecessor, stashed away hundreds of billions for a rainy day, and used some of them for a price war that drove the US’s shale oil production out of business and shut down 2/3 of US oil rigs, a decisive Saudi victory that contrasted sharply with his predecessor Fahd’s disastrous oil policies of the 70’s.
So what did the Sudairis, who were finally rid of Abdullah, do with that legacy?
The Sudairis began their demolition of whatever reforms Abdullah was able to make the instant they took power. Salman named reactionary Wahhabi cleric Saad al-Shethri, a notorious enemy of Abdullah’s mixed-gender university and girls’ schools, as his personal advisor as soon as he stepped in, possibly a more destructive move than Nayef burning down girls’ schools.
He then removed the Muslim Brotherhood from the list of the kingdom’s many enemies – Abdullah had bankrolled General Sisi, who toppled Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi -and ended Saudi’s feud with Qatar, the major backer of the Ikhwan (Ikhwan al Muslimin=Muslim Brotherhood) and Al Qaeda in Syria (aka Al Nusra). Instead he put the least reactionary and most pro-Western of the Saudi entourage on his shit list: the Emirates. It was the friends of Al Qaeda reuniting at long last. Overnight, Saudi became a second ISIS, sending the armies of its entourage into Yemen and bombing the country back to the stone age.
Yemen’s descent into hell: 1-The usual Arab Spring song and dance 2-Saudi- and US-backed tribal chief Hamid al Ahmar starts an armed uprising 3-They topple former US-backed strongman Saleh, seen here with burn gloves after al Ahmar and his Al Qaeda pals put a bomb in his mosque and almost killed him 4-Al Qaeda takes over most of the country.
To be continued…
Salman’s excuse for laying waste to Yemen was that the Houthis, whom Saudi alleges are Iranian-backed Shiites, deposed a Saudi stooge who had recently been installed after Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh was toppled by the Ikhwan. That’s the short version. The long version is, Saleh was a longtime US ally who managed to keep the fractious country in one piece while assisting the US in its fight against Saudi-backed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The names Anwar al Awlaki, Omar Faruk Abdul muttalab, and Nidal Hasan may ring a bell (more on those later). So basically, the old devil Saleh was playing along with Obama’s ghost chase in Yemen and using the US military aid that came with the “Long War” to suppress the various rebellions that were chronic to that dirt-poor but fascinating country.
Then in 2009 the powerful pro-Ikhwan tribal leader Hamid al Ahmar stepped into the US embassy and told the Yanks that he was organizing a rebellion to topple Saleh. This fit in perfectly with the US’s harebrained plan to win over the Arab street by backing the Muslim Brotherhood (scroll down to the old guy in the fedora). One month later, Saleh took away Ahmar’s oil export monopoly that was the source of his family’s wealth and the basis of Saleh’s alliance with his deceased father, an alliance that the young upstart chose to discard in the hope of moving on to bigger and better things. Two years later, the requisite angry crowds congregated in front of the cameras in synch with those in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. Meanwhile, Hamid’s heavily armed tribesmen, accompanied by groups of Al Qaeda terrorists, occupied several key Saleh towns like Zinjibar near Aden, where clashes were continuing. Finally, Hamid got Al Qaeda to put a bomb in Saleh’s mosque and Saleh was down – but not out.
The old devil came back from the dead, got himself patched up ASAP and sprung back into action, sealing a pact with the Houthi tribes against the jihadists who no doubt intended to massacre them as Shiite heretics, as they did elsewhere. Meanwhile, Hamid realized he had just been screwed by the Saudis, since he was shut out of the puppet government, upon which he withdrew his tribesmen from the fight. The Houthis went on the counteroffensive, took over the capital Sanaa, and rolled into Aden. That’s the point where Saudi and its Western clients choose to say that things went wrong in Yemen. In other words, it wouldn’t have been so bad if Al Qaeda had taken over and turned the place into another Libya.
Things then turned doubly bad because just as the Houthis took over Sanaa, Abdullah died.
As Houthis were celebrating their victory in Sanaa, Saudis were mourning Abdullah at his unmarked grave, a simple pile of pebbles as dictated by the Wahhabi code of barbarism.
Up until that point, Saudi’s meddling in Yemen had been low-key, allowing the US to set deeper root there by pretending that the various tribes allied with Saudi were Al Qaeda whereas a lot of the Hashid tribes were in fact just as Zaidi (i.e. Shiite) as the Houthis. The US government scared Americans with an underwear bomber who supposedly was sent to America from Yemen whereas he was a Nigerian rich kid radicalized in Londonistan by Mi5’s very own salafist imams. Americans were told that an American called Anwar al Awlaki was running Al Qaeda there, which not only was patently false but Awlaki had been wined and dined at the Pentagon in appreciation of his good services to Muslim deradicalisation. Both the US and Saudi were turning dirty tricks in Yemen and whatever Abdullah had been doing in Yemen up till then had been low-cost, low-key, and with the US’s blessing. There is no better proof of that than the fact that the US didn’t evacuate its embassy even when Al Qaeda blew up a US warship right in front of it, yet it evacuated as soon as the Houthis arrived.
Saudi’s free ride with human rights NGOs is over.
States must stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen conflict-Amnesty International
Amnesty International has investigated over 30 air strikes in Sana’a, Hodeidah, Hajjah and Sa’da, their circumstances and impact. Amnesty International found that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued to commit violations of international humanitarian law, including by the apparently deliberate targeting of civilian objects such as hospitals, schools and factories.
The industrial-scale carnage that Salman’s idiot son Mohammed has got going there since March 2015 is a completely different matter. He has been caught several times by human rights NGOs using cluster bombs on civilians and bombing schools and hospitals. The Saudis have no concept of human rights, war crimes, or accountability. They can’t fathom the notion that they with all their money should ever suffer consequences for these crimes. It’s particularly difficult for those of the Sudairi branch of the family, brought up on pure, unedulterated Wahhabism. They are the ones who rape, torture, and murder their maids and servants in their Western mansions or luxury hotel suites, and bite the police who come to arrest them. The Saudis have been having the run of the killing fields of Yemen for over a year and don’t know how to stop. The moment is fast approaching, with the European Parliament waking out of its slumber and calling for an arms embargo (braving Saudi threats of retaliation, even), that others will do the stopping for them.
A cel phone video captured by the YPG on Saudi-backed Jaish al Islam terrorists trying to sneak into Iraq shows them in gas masks launching the types of rockets that landed in Zamalka, Eastern Ghouta.The terrorist shooting the video says that they are in Qaboun and shooting at Jobar, right across the road from Zamalka.
Abdullah was smarter about his war crimes in Syria; he committed them deniably and with Western accomplices. Little chance that anyone will ever haul Saudi over the coals for those. Who can prove the Saudi finger behind Zahran Alloush’s Jaysh al Islam roasting people in ovens in Adra or sending off chemical rockets from Qaboun in the early hours of 21 August 2013? Whereas in Yemen, the unexploded Saudi cluster bombs are all over the place, no plausible denial or guilt-sharing is possible there. Human Rights Watch, loath as it is to point out any crime in the Western camp, was forced to acknowledge at least that much with 2 reports out already. Maybe the US State Department had it file those reports as a sort of shot across the bows to the Saudis.
Saudi’s rap sheet in Yemen doesn’t end with cluster bombs and targeting civilians. It has also been busted as an ally of Al Qaeda, as reported by the BBC:
The BBC having acknowledged the obvious, Al Qaeda is now officially a member of Saudi’s “coalition.”
During a visit to the frontline outside Taiz late last year, documentary maker Safa AlAhmad spoke to pro-government militiamen attacking Houthi fighters on a key hilltop with the support of troops from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who were providing tactical advice.
While there, Ms AlAhmad was warned by one group participating in the battle not to film them.
She was told they were members of Ansar al-Sharia, an affiliate of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and that they were angered by the presence of a woman.
Yemen conflict: Al-Qaeda joins coalition battle for Taiz – BBC, 22 February 2016
The Yemeni major-general appointed by Saudi as governor of Aden was blown up by Saudi’s terrorist “allies,” along with many other Saudi-appointed officials
While Emirati forces may be sharing trenches with Al Qaeda in the north, they are locked in combat in the south, along the Gulf coast where Al Qaeda and Islah (the Ikhwan-linked clans loyal to the al Ahmar oil export mafia family) have taken control of all the ports except Aden, which they have turned into a chaotic battleground. Saudi-appointed officials are shot and blown up daily and Emirates troops fight an indistinct mixture of foreign Al Qaeda, ISIS, Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood (Islah)-linked clans, and southern secessionists, all of whom threaten to cut off their sea link to their home base. The chaos in Aden, largely ignored by the world, finally hit the headlines when Islamist terrorists raided Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, a home for the elderly, and murdered 17 people, including four nuns.
Emirati forces pull out of Yemen in early November, 2015. They staged a “victory parade” at Zayed military city.
A convoy of war-damaged Emirati Oshkosh armored vehicles returning home for repairs. The total losses were left in Yemen.
The Emirates, an unwilling member of the Saudi coalition from the start that has strong objections to serving Saudi expansionism and Al Qaeda, pulled out a large part of its troops in November, both as a result of the chaos spread by Saudi’s local “allies” and of devastating Houthi missile attacks that cost the lives of several high-ranking UAE and Saudi officers.
The occupied south-southeast of the country is a total chaos, with Al Qaeda, ISIS, Islah, and southern secessionists running amok among UAE troops and assorted mercenaries hired from as far away as Senegal and Colombia. The 450 Mexican and Colombian Blackwater mercenaries deployed by the UAE to Yemen suffered casualties from “foreign forces,” which indicates “green on blue” attacks within their own camp since Sanaa had no “foreign forces,” and the Blackwater guys were abruptly pulled out.
Saudi’s dysfunctional “coalition” lacks any sort of chain of command, with Senegalese and Sudanese mercenaries drifting around aimlessly, while Saudi and Emirates forces barely speak to each other, and the various militias and terrorists do their own thing. On top of the “green on blue” attacks from Al Qaeda, Emirates forces have now suffered a “south on blue” attack at Aden airport from the southern secessionists and have withdrawn from there too.
Houthi forces in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province destroy a Saudi armored column.
And that’s still the least of Saudi’s war worries. Abdullah’s proxy war against Syria had little chance of spilling over into Saudi territory but Salman’s war on Yemen already has, in a big way. Houthi forces and the Yemeni military loyal to Sanaa are already in three Saudi provinces. The westernmost one, Jizan, a major port and Aramco oil industry center, is now a war zone. Saudi & Emirates armor has suffered such huge losses in Yemen, and Saudi’s fleet of Apache attack helicopters as well,that the Saudi military now retreats in disarray whenever Yemeni forces show up. They don’t stick around to put up even token resistance unless they are surrounded.
Saudi has not only lost the Yemen war but is now facing a Yemeni invasion. Salman’s imbecile son got into a war relying on the UAE, with which he and his dad had crossed swords on day 1 of their rule. As far as the Sudairis are concerned , the UAE’s rulers are frenemies. They are to the Sudiaris what Qatar was to Abdullah.
Dumb and Dumber: In order to set him up as his heir, Salman gave his son Mohammed (left) total control over the army and the economy rather that to his deceased brother Nayef’s son (right), also called Mohammed, whom the US backs. The Yanks prefer Mohammed bin Nayef because they can horse-trade with him whereas Salman’s kid is an arrogant little prick. They may be giving Mohammed bin Salman all this rope so he can hang himself and clear the way for the other guy.
Mohammed has been facing heavy flak from rival Saudi families for the Yemen war since the start, when he ignominiously lost Aden to the Houthis because he was too dumb to keep the Hashid tribes on his side. He now has no clue whatsoever what to do and just keeps digging himself deeper, like the US did in Vietnam, by ordering more and more bombing of Yemeni cities. The moron doesn’t understand the notion that constantly committing war crimes is politically unsustainable. He has the example of Israel standing right there in front of him, which is powerless to stop the growing international backlash against its war crimes despite all its foreign political lobbies, once thought all-powerful. Yet Mohammed bin Salman still thinks he can make everything OK by spreading some more bakhsheeskh – which he no longer has.
The Jabal Omar company that has taken out a $2 billion loan to build the Mordoresque Jabal Omar complex on top of the Qaaba in Mecca has defaulted on the paltry $173 million first payment.
The economic debacle is even worse than the military one. The government has stopped contractor payments since April 2015, construction companies are going bust (except the Bin Ladens, who managed to receive an exceptional payment), banks are out of cash and interbank lending rates have shot up, and Saudi is seeking a foreign loan for the first time since the 80’s-for a measly $10 billion. The “julous” (investiture bakhsheesh) that Salman distributed to the people one year ago alone was $ 30 billion.
To further underline the totally unplanned, haphazard way the Sudairi Stupids spend & cut, the “economy czar” Mohammed bin Salman signed off on a 12.4% increase in construction contracts, of a total of 140 billion riyals, in the first half of 2015, even as he was kicking off a war on Yemen!
The populace has also gotten the ax: Contractors can’t pay salaries and it’s not known if the government can, while fuel prices have increased 50% and an income tax is on the way. There’s pressure on payrolls across the board and government hiring has slowed to a trickle.
Trudeau was willing to dent his nice guy image for the $15 billion Saudi is paying him for his LACVs
New arms purchases, on top of the war expenses, seem to have the priority above all else. Salman is trying to buy littoral combat ships from the US and a new batch of Canadian light armored combat vehicles is awaiting delivery, as if not enough Saudi troops had been incinerated in cheap tin cans already.
The drastic cuts that Saudi is making while purportedly still sitting pretty on a very impressive mountain of cash makes you wonder how much of those foreign reserves are actually available. For one thing, Saudi needs to keep that pile from getting too small in order to prevent a run on the Riyal, which is pegged to the dollar. So there’s no question of spending ever last penny, far from it.
The Sudiairi regime thus appears ready to sacrifice everything on the altar of war. Important infrastructure projects have gotten the ax, like the $30 billion port and and shipyard developement that would not only ease the pressure on existing ports and reduce import costs by unloading cargos quickly instead of making them wait at anchor for days, but it would generate income by turning Saudi’s Red Sea coast into a mineral export hub for Africa. New shipyards are vital for offshore oil exploration, which Saudi desperately needs to top up its reserves, which have been grossly overstated. All of that and much more has got the ax so that Saudi can fight a losing war for a few more months.
You might think that a country in this much trouble would start negotiating with its adversaries. The US started negotiating with North Vietnam right after the Tet offensive. With Saudi, intransigeance is the order of the day. When even the US has accepted that Assad won’t and shouldn’t be removed from power, Saudi sabotaged the latest Geneva round to avoid signing a deal to that effect, just as it sabotaged the deal between the Future block and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The man behind all this folly, Mohammed bin Salman, appears to be frozen in an attitude of aggression and defiance. Or he’s frozen in fear and is trying to look mean and tough. He knows too well that concessions or backing down would confirm what everyone has been saying about him, i.e. that he’s young, inexperienced, arrogant, and not half as smart as he thinks he is. Bye bye regency, bye bye throne. Saudi’s doomed fuite en avant (escape forward) is the work of inadequate Sudairis in way over their heads, and one of them in particular, Mohammed bin Salman.