Saudi Royal Family Dissatisfied with New Crown Prince: Ex-US Adviser
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A former US government adviser to Saudi Arabia highlighted the growing divisions between the oil-rich kingdom's rulers, saying that “many members of the royal family” are displeased with the elevation of Mohammed bin Salman to crown prince.
“…It is clear that many members of the royal family are dissatisfied with Mohammed bin Salman's leadership,” Paul Larudee from San Francisco said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“He has taken the country in directions that are very controversial even in Saudi society, including the coziness with Israel, the reckless war in Yemen, the setbacks to their proxies (ISIS) in Syria and the totally counterproductive dispute with Qatar,” he noted.
Larudee is an Iranian-born American political activist and human rights volunteer, who works with the International Solidarity Movement. He is a former contracted US government adviser to Saudi Arabia and a founder of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements.
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?
Larudee: Until Salman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has had a mostly cautious foreign policy based on consensus within the royal family and letting other countries do the fighting and take the lead. Prince Bandar bin Sultan was an exception, and Mohammed bin Salman even more so, encouraged by the fact that his father is feeble and partially disabled. He has now made himself Crown Prince because his father will do whatever he says. However, will he be able to hold power? This remains to be seen. There is no real precedent for this kind of power game within the royal family.
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?
Larudee: Last September, Prince Khaled bin Talal resigned all his posts. Showing dissatisfaction in this way is unusual in KSA, but it is clear that many members of the royal family are dissatisfied with Mohammed bin Salman's leadership. The house sequestrations are another symptom of the dissatisfaction, which is only natural, given the fact that his policies are not bearing fruit and are bankrupting a country that is otherwise one of the wealthiest. It was said of King Saud in the 1950s that he could not distinguish between a great fortune and an unlimited fortune. The same could be said of Prince Mohammed. He has taken the country in directions that are very controversial even in Saudi society, including the coziness with Israel, the reckless war in Yemen, the setbacks to their proxies (ISIS) in Syria and the totally counterproductive dispute with Qatar. If these policies don't show some sign of being producing benefits to Saudi Arabia, I have to think that wiser heads will find a way to ease out this hothead.
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?
Larudee: Besides the brutality of the war, there is no real motive for it other than hysteria, and it is yielding none of the results for which it is being waged. The problem with Prince Mohammed's policy is that if it doesn't work, his solution is to do more of the same, which in some circles is considered the definition of insanity. Unfortunately, there are enough fanatical Wahhabists with enough power to make Mohammed a credible and viable destructive force in Saudi politics. It would be better for everyone (except the warmongers and profiteers) if he were replaced by more moderate elements sooner rather than later. However, we may have to wait for the Kingdom to suffer additional failures in its foreign and fiscal adventures before the royal family decides as a group to end his rule. A coup d'état sooner or later is the most likely outcome, even if only within the confines of the al-Saud family itself. There are still reasonable people in the KSA power structure, who realize that their future is not with Israel and that they are better off pursuing a policy of tolerance and mutual benefit with their Arab and Muslim neighbors, including Iran and Syria, and developing the Middle East rather than destroying it.