Friday, November 17, 2017

Two spins on MBS

This is probably the most optimistic spin of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon's current escapades. I don't think it is all spin. It probably is part of the reason for MSB's domestic moves and Saudi Arabia faces economic collapse unless it finds a way to have an economy that is not entirely dependent on oil.

But it doesn't explain MBS's crazy foreign policy: his quagmire in Yemen, his silly and self-destructive blockade of Qatar, his over-the-top hard line against Iran, and his possible abduction and forced resignation of the Lebanese prime minister. That stuff is related to the other reason for MSB's "anti-corruption" crackdown: Salmon's consolidation of power in anticipation of his ascension to the Saudi throne.

My theory is that MBS believes that the current system in which Saudi Arabia is effectively governed by a council of elders (comprised of the various siblings and brothers who are the closest relatives of the current king) will not be able to make the hard to decisions to modernize the country both economically and socially. He is probably right about that. But his solution, to arrest or marginalize all his relatives who might dilute his authority, while adopting a muscular foreign policy to show he is a decisive and dependable leader, is a bad way to go about it. None of his high-risk foreign adventures has paid off yet, and it is possible (if not likely) that all will end badly for KSA. That will give his rivals in the Saudi royal family ammunition to fight back when the opportunity presents itself.