Subdued Civil War Raging inside House of Saud: Analyst
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A geopolitical analyst based in Hong Kong said a “subdued civil war” is occurring inside the House of Saud following the recent transition of power from Prince Mohammed bin Nayef to Mohammed bin Salman in the Arabian Peninsula country.
“My best sources tell me about a sort of subdued civil war raging inside the House of Saud,” Pepe Escobar told the Tasnim News Agency.
He added, “To conduct a foreign policy alienating not only Iran but also Turkey and Russia may land him in some serious hot water much earlier than anyone believes”.
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: As you know Saudi Arabia’s King Salman appointed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, placing him firmly as first-in-line to the throne. The monarch stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who had been positioned to inherit the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his powerful position as the country’s interior minister overseeing security. What’s your take on this?
Escobar: Mohammed bin Salman was already the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, considering King Salman has been virtually incapacitated by dementia and thus incapable of major political/economic decisions. I called it a House of Saud soft coup - as in MBS practically deposing Nayef. There may be serious blowback further on down the road. Nayef was and is the top CIA connection in Riyadh - due to his previous counter-terrorism czar role. US intel instinctively trusts Nayef and essentially agrees with the BND - German intel - who went public stressing MBS's erratic, sloppy and fundamentally dangerous character. As far as the Trump administration is concerned, the only thing that matter is MBS's non-stop anti-Iran campaign, and Aramco being listed in the New York Stock Exchange. Apart from that, he is expendable if he does not toe the line.
Tasnim: Following the decision, several Saudi princes were put under house arrest and still tight security is in place. Do you believe that Al Saud will continue to take the helm of the power in the Arabian Peninsula country?
Escobar: King Salman, Nayef and MBS are all Sudairis. Yet there are lesser known Sudairis and other branches of the family who are far from pleased with the soft coup. My best sources tell me about a sort of subdued civil war raging inside the House of Saud. More conservative elements are appalled by MBS's arrogance - and also do not agree with his Vision 2030, which would, in theory, modernize the economy but undermine the power of fanatic Wahhabi clerics.
Tasnim: The new crown prince is famous for his aggressive policies. Experts have expressed concerns that his impulsiveness could be dangerous and can make the region more insecure. How would Iran-Saudi Arabia's relations be affected under him? It seems that bin Salman’s aggressive foreign policy has failed to yield the desired results as the Saudi regime’s ongoing aggression against Yemen has been a complete failure against revolutionary people in the Arab country. What do you think about the regime’s war on Yemen and the new foreign policy?
Escobar: MBS's hatred of Iran and presumably all Shiites is pathological. At the same time, his diplomatic skills are non-existent. There is plenty of evidence. The unwinnable war he led against Yemen - now morphed into a horrendous humanitarian crisis. The blockade of Qatar. Going on the record on Western media telegraphing his move that the war for supremacy in the Middle East would be brought to Iran's territory. The leadership in Tehran is savvy enough to reign him in not only diplomatically - see Iran's support to Qatar - but militarily as well if he entertains funny ideas with his ghost "army" of mercenaries that cannot even subdue Yemen. He is already losing major face with the blockade of Qatar. To conduct a foreign policy alienating not only Iran but also Turkey and Russia may land him in some serious hot water much earlier than anyone believes.