The future for Saudi and the Gulf oil states?

lessons for the Sauds from Syria

The Iranians are good, really good.
The Russians are now rather good too.
The Saud backed forces are uniformly shit when fought by Shiites
And Patriot air defence missiles are quite good too.
 
(...) What I know of Waleed is that he is a true progressive and youth enabler, so it doesn't make much sense to lock him up if the goal is to modernise.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is believed to be a front man for other, higher placed, Saudi princes. Much of the money he manages is suspected of not being his. Posing as a successful businessman allows him to launder ill gotten gains belonging to others who don't want to be seen becoming inexplicably wealthy.

I would not be surprised if his arrest is intended to get him to talk about where the money comes from and where it goes. That information could then be used to arrest others, or it could be put into a file and used to ensure their compliance later on.

Anti-corruption campaigns are always great when you want to lock up your rivals or announce unpopular belt tightening measures to the public.
 
And Patriot air defence missiles are quite good too.

Against a tarted up Scud, it ought to be.

But things for the Saudis to be mindful of.

Yemen has IRBM's
They work
They are accurate, one hit a refinery and set it on fire, this one was aimed fair and square at KK international
All the Houthis have to do is switch targets to civilians areas rather than a defended point like an air base and they are quids in.
 
Qatar may be small and likes to use its media piss in the corrupt house of Sauds wheaties, but it's rich as feck and has very powerful friends as the Sauds have found to their cost when they tried to swat it.

There's new sheriff in town, and it's not a Sunni one.

Once that bit of Saudi funded and supported IS business in Syria avd Iraq is finally snuffed out, the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus axis with its new Russian friend will have scores to settle with the Magic Kingdom.

And judging by the staggeringly inept performance of the Sauds and their GCC Allies in Yemen, it's going to be fun to watch.
 
The Economist sums up a rather bleak balance sheet for the House of Saud right now:

This is already a fraught moment for Saudi Arabia, even without the palace intrigue. A ruinous two-and-a-half-year war in Yemen, meant to topple Houthi rebels who ousted the government in 2015, has plunged that country into a humanitarian crisis. Though the Houthis have lost territory, they still control Sana’a, the capital, and most of northern Yemen. As the Saudi shake-up began on Saturday night, they fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh. (It was intercepted.) Just as unsuccessful is the five-month-old blockade of Qatar, which was meant to force the gas-rich emirate to drop its support for Islamist groups. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival, Iran, is gaining influence across the region. Indeed, Saturday’s wild news started with the resignation of Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s pro-Saudi prime minister. Mr Hariri announced the move from Riyadh, blaming Iran’s malign influence on his country
https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21731021-muhammad-bin-salman-has-made-himself-sole-face-saudi-policy-saudi-arabias

I would be interested to know how the state of things are in the east, where the Shia minority are locally concentrated (unhelpfully) in the oil rich eastern provinces.

I can't believe the execution of the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr ended the unrest totally and for ever. Especially with the emboldened Shia forces in the other areas of interest to the Saudis; as pointed out by @meerkatz above.
 
As a resident of Saudi Arabia (but not for much longer) my take on it is that we are on a brink of a seismic change in regional politics that will have far reaching affects. MBS is only the first member of the third generation of the House of Saud to be lined up for power since the founding of the modern Kingdom in 1932. As such, it is a major step change that has put a lot of noses out of joint, both family and clerics. But the demographics are now with him and he is adored by young Saudis (my neighbors keep me informed). Word is that family is more of a threat than the Wahhabis and he will be mindful that his uncle King Faisal, a modernizer, was assassinated by a family member in 1975. A lot of people on here are blithely saying that the oil is running out and they'll go back to camel herding. In fact Saudi Aramco is developing a substantial down stream industry (SADARA, biggest chemical plant in the world opened last year) also a major ship building project about to kick off threatening the far east market so it's a JV between Aramco and Hyundai. So don't write off Saudi Arabia too quickly - if modernization is properly applied, it will give them an advantage over Iran in the long term.

As for the arrests, it seems to me that people didn't mind too much that the vast royal family skimmed off Armco's profits to fund their lifestyle. Not many Saudi's worked and everyone got paid a living subsidy. The concept of tax was unheard of. That's all changing now and VAT is being introduced with the possibility of income tax on the horizon. People will not be so happy if they think that their taxes are funding royal palaces and private jets, hence the crack down now.

As an aside, I wouldn't mind being arrested for corruption. The current miscreants are being incarcerated in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, which has been emptied of all other guests, so expect more arrests to come.
 

sumo2

Old-Salt
All very interesting, but will it affect the price of fuels at UK pumps? If not who cares? Its about time they sorted their siht out and left the dark ages behind.
 
I would be interested to know how the state of things are in the east, where the Shia minority are locally concentrated (unhelpfully) in the oil rich eastern provinces.

I can't believe the execution of the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr ended the unrest totally and for ever. Especially with the emboldened Shia forces in the other areas of interest to the Saudis; as pointed out by @meerkatz above.
I live in Khobar, not a peep from the Shias here, nor in Dammam and this is where the money really is. The Shias are more concentrated in Hofuf and other inland provincial towns, where they are kept in check by the National Guard, aided and abetted by their British officers and NCOs on secondment.
 
The Economist sums up a rather bleak balance sheet for the House of Saud right now:



https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21731021-muhammad-bin-salman-has-made-himself-sole-face-saudi-policy-saudi-arabias

I would be interested to know how the state of things are in the east, where the Shia minority are locally concentrated (unhelpfully) in the oil rich eastern provinces.

I can't believe the execution of the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr ended the unrest totally and for ever. Especially with the emboldened Shia forces in the other areas of interest to the Saudis; as pointed out by @meerkatz above.
A few months ago there were reports that the the security forces in the eastern provinces were using armoured vehicles to enter some parts of some towns. This had some connections with the Shia cleric you mentioned, but that wasn't the whole of it.

There were apparently a lot of grievances related to how the Shias had no influence in politics, and also some controversial property developments that were going on. With the latter, people were being forcibly evicted from their homes so the bulldozers could flatten everything and the new property developers could get on with things. I seem to recall reading that the cleric was giving support to the opponents of the development. I got the impression though that this issue was being used as a symbol of opposition to the regime, rather than being the sole or main cause. That is, the real issues were much broader.

I'm not sure how that is going now, as the international news organisations don't seem to cover much Saudi news outside of Riyadh or the oil industry. The stories that I was reading were originating with activists who were trying to use social media to publicise it in their ongoing campaign to get an arms embargo put on Saudi Arabia. That campaign has met with little interest, so the associated news has faded away. All of that needs to be taken into account when trying to judge whether the lack of recent news means much.
 
So don't write off Saudi Arabia too quickly - if modernization is properly applied, it will give them an advantage over Iran in the long term.

.

The priceless advantages Iran has over Saud is its demographics, its history, and it's not Arab.

It has a huge young and very well educated population with a strong work ethic.
The Persians are Persians, very nationalistic and have a 3,000 year history of nationhood to call on.
And they are not Arabs, they are a martial race who unlike the Arabs didn't need to import lackies to fight for them.

The Sauds are very well aware that before the Ayatollahs, Iran was the biggest by a country mile military swinging dick in the region, and its manufacturing economy was powering ahead.

It's possible the Sauds my undo their innate corruption and inherent Arab laziness, but I'm not convinced. They had it all for the last 50 years but squandered it on gold plated bath tubs and Cadillacs.
I found the Iranians really easy to pget along with, it was by and large a meritocracy and they were hard workers, smart and diligent. The Sauds? First thing you had to check was who he was connected to. Most of them seemed to be the most gormless clowns on planet gormless given jobs off the back of graft and family.
 
This seemed like the most appropriate existing thread for the following:
Saudi government to seize over $100B in 'corruption crackdown'

The government has so far squeezed $100 billion out of various businessmen and officials relating to allegations of corruption.
Saudi Arabia's government has arranged to seize over $100 billion US in financial settlements with businessmen and officials detained in its crackdown on corruption, the attorney general said Tuesday.

"The estimated value of settlements currently stands at more than 400 billion riyals [$106 billion US] represented in various types of assets, including real estate, commercial entities, securities, cash and other assets," Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb said in a statement.
There are apparently 56 people still in custody who have not reached settlements with the government. Some cases may to go trial.
In total, the investigation subpoenaed 381 people, some of whom testified or provided evidence, Mojeb said, adding that 56 people had not reached settlements and were still in custody, down from 95 early last week. Some cases are expected to go for trial, authorities have said previously.
The money will go a long way to filling the hole in the national budget left by the collapse of oil prices.
The huge sum, if it is successfully recovered, would be a major financial boost for the government, which has seen its finances strained by low oil prices. The state budget deficit this year is projected at the equivalent of $52 billion US.
It also represents a political victory for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and matches the financial target he set for getting settlements.
The announcement also appeared to represent a political victory for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who launched the purge last November and predicted at the time that it would net about $100 billion in settlements.
Among the released detainees are Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is a well known Saudi businessman. I will add that he is suspected of being the front man for a number of more highly placed princes.
Over 100 detainees are believed to have been released. Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, owner of global investor Kingdom Holding, and Waleed al-Ibrahim, who controls influential regional broadcaster MBC, were freed last weekend.
Investors remain wary about doing business in Saudi Arabia, as they don't know if their business partners or companies could be targeted next.
Despite repeated statements that the purge is nearly over, investors remain concerned about doing business in Saudi Arabia, where key business partners and firms could still be targeted. The government has also not officially released the names of individuals detained nor disclosed the specific allegations against them, leading to concerns of transparency and accountability.
There is also concern that some of those targeted recently and lost significant assets could try to retaliate in some way.
There is also concern that royal family members stung by the sweep and businessmen forced to handover significant financial assets or control of their companies could try and seek some form of retaliation.
 
This seemed like the most relevant thread for the following: Saudi Arabia will develop nuclear bomb if Iran does, says crown prince

Saudi Arabia said they will definitely develop nuclear weapons if Iran does.
"Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible," Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS in an interview that will air in full on Sunday.
The Saudis are pursuing their plan to develop a nuclear energy capability.
Saudi Arabia is stepping up plans to develop a civilian nuclear energy capability as part of a reform plan led by Prince Mohammed to reduce the economy's dependence on oil.
They said they want nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes, but have not been clear about whether than includes a uranium enrichment facility.
The world's top oil exporter has previously said it wants nuclear technology only for peaceful uses, but has left unclear whether it also wants to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel, a process which can also be used in the production of atomic weapons.
The US, South Korea, Russia, France, and China are all bidding on supplying the Saudis with a pair of nuclear reactors.
The United States, South Korea, Russia, France and China are bidding on a multi-billion-dollar tender to build the country's first two nuclear reactors.
Rather fascinatingly, Saudi Arabia's official statements about seriously considering developing nuclear weapons seems to have so far elicited little or no interest from the same people who get gravely concerned about nuclear weapons in certain other countries.

Given that Trump is talking about torpedoing the nuclear freeze deal with Iran which would put that issue at the forefront again, the chances of the Saudis wanting their own bomb is not remote.
 
Rather fascinatingly, Saudi Arabia's official statements about seriously considering developing nuclear weapons seems to have so far elicited little or no interest from the same people who get gravely concerned about nuclear weapons in certain other countries.
Why, it's almost as if the rules can tell who the baddies are and apply themselves accordingly.
 
If there is a possibility of Saudi developing a bomb, with apparent tacit support from countries-who-haven't-complained-much-yet, then it is certain that Iran will also do so. After all, who could think that Saudi leaders would behave in a mature and responsible manner regarding military matters? cough - Yemen - cough This is called proliferation and 'should' be jumped on by the grown ups. Then again, when the entire Middle East turns itself in to a glass car-park then it might simplify politics in the region.
 

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