Archive for the ‘Saudi former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef’ category

Modernizers launch a coup within the House of Saud

November 6, 2017

Modernizers launch a coup within the House of Saud, American ThinkerThomas Lifson, November 6, 2017

When President Trump visited Riyadh in May, the discussions must have included a mutual understanding of the changes the Regime has in mind. The US delegation included veteran Saudi-hand Secretary of State Tillerson and economic visionary Wilbur Ross of the Department of Commerce. These are precisely the people a monarch would want to talk to about restructuring his regime to cope with a reality that has changed. A big part of the modernization is entering closer relations with Israel, a natural mutual ally in resisting Iranian Shiites. Purportedly clandestine cooperation is widely in to be underway already.

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A coup is taking place within the House of Saud, in which a modernizing monarch is grabbing power and taking out rivals.  Forces now under command of the ruler just arrested 11 princes among dozens of others and is launching financial investigations that could lead to serious punishment. In Saudi Arabia, they behead people (at least 157 times in 2015) and amputate a limb off of thieves.  It is widely believed that baksheesh is not unknown in Saudi Arabian business circles, and an “anti-corruption committee” was recently formed.  In other words, the tools are in place to take out any opposition among the powerful, within or outside the royal family.

Bloomberg reports:

Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was removed from his post as head of the powerful National Guards.

That’s the first thing you do in coup: grab control of the forces on the ground.

Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was picked up at his desert camp, the senior official said. Authorities did not disclose the evidence that prompted the arrests.

 Prince Alwaleed bin Talal presides over a vast financial empire (estimated $35 billion in 2015):

 Alwaleed is the largest individual shareholder of Citigroup, the second-largest voting shareholder in 21st Century Fox and owns a number of hotels. TIME even called him “Arabian Warren Buffet”.

The second thing you do is take out any potential bankroller of rivals.

It all began a month after the historic visit of President Trump, when 81-year-old King Salman displaced the previous crown prince, who was his nephew, as tradition of succession required,[i] and installed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as effectively the monarch.

MBS, as the Crown Prince is known, is the leader who is launching what modernizers hope will be a Saudi Version of the Meiji Restoration[ii] in Japan, transforming the political economy and culture out of necessity – in order to survive in the modern world system.  The Saudis have practiced religious and cultural isolationism, while their oil allowed the country to avoid the necessity of building an economy that could supply anything else that the rest of the world would be willing to pay for.

The power grab was necessary, because Saudi Arabia has to modernize, and it won’t be pleasant for lots of people, in and out of the royal family. Thanks to fracking and associated technologies, prices are never going to return to $100 a barrel.  The regime itself is at stake because the population is growing and the young have few prospects of employment. The House of Saud almost fell in 1979, when the Grand Mosque in Mecca was seized by Shiite insurgents (The Saudi Shiite minority is concentrated in the oil producing region near Iran) declaring their prophet to be the Mahdi. The entire religious legitimacy of the family is that they are custodians of the holy places of Islam, and yet they had to bring in Pakistanis to retake the holy of holies, the Kaaba.

Source: Wikimedia

They understand that in order to stay in power, they have to deliver change.

When President Trump visited Riyadh in May, the discussions must have included a mutual understanding of the changes the Regime has in mind. The US delegation included veteran Saudi-hand Secretary of State Tillerson and economic visionary Wilbur Ross of the Department of Commerce. These are precisely the people a monarch would want to talk to about restructuring his regime to cope with a reality that has changed. A big part of the modernization is entering closer relations with Israel, a natural mutual ally in resisting Iranian Shiites. Purportedly clandestine cooperation is widely in to be underway already.

Of the people arrested, Alwaleed bin Tala is the most intriguing for Americans thanks to his Twitter sparring with candidate Trump during the election, and for a startling connection unearthed by Jack Cashill more than five years ago in World New Daily.

In late March 2008, on a local New York City show called “Inside City Hall,” the venerable African-American entrepreneur and politico, Percy Sutton, told host Dominic Carter how he was asked to help smooth Barack Obama’s admission into Harvard Law School 20 years earlier.

The octogenarian Sutton calmly and lucidly explained that he had been “introduced to [Obama] by a friend.” The friend’s name was Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, and the introduction had taken place about 20 years prior.

Sutton described al-Mansour as “the principal adviser to one of the world’s richest men.” The billionaire in question was Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

 

Deep currents are being stirred.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman


[i] This spread power around in the family, allowing for the growth of factionalism within the clan. Now that there is a direct and clear lineage, power can be grabbed at the very top and the rest of the clan brought into line.

[ii] I studied, wrote and taught the Meiji Restoration and realize the many differences in the specifics of the two countries’ situations. No exact parallel is implied.

Egypt refers 292 suspects to military court for plotting Sisi assassination

July 10, 2017

Egypt refers 292 suspects to military court for plotting Sisi assassination, Al Arabiya, July 9, 2017

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on January 25, 2017, shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaking in a televised address commemorating the revolution, in the capital Cairo.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that Egypt was “on the right track” six years after the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. AFP PHOTO / EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY

Bayoumi admitted that his wife had offered to wear an explosive suicide belt to distract troops while the rest of the cell members focused on targeting Sisi. Investigations also revealed an attempt to target Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. A dentist, Ali Ibrahim Hassan, also admitted that Ahmed Bayoumi Tahawi and Mahmoud Jaber Mahmoud Ali were planning to target Sisi and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and that a woman called Dr. Mervat, Ahmed Bayoumi’s wife, was planning on blowing herself up as women are not being monitored at the time.

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Egypt’s public prosecutor has referred 292 defendants to a military trial for being accused of forming terrorist cells and involved in terrorist operations, including two attempts to assassinate the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

On November 20, 2016, Attorney General Nabil Sadiq transferred the case to the military prosecution, which in turn referred it to the military trial.

In November last year, the Supreme State Security Prosecution revealed investigations with the accused of the terrorist acts inside and outside the country, most notably assassination attempts on President Sisi’s life, one during Umrah in Saudi Arabia and the other in Egypt.

Investigations revealed that there are 292 defendants, including 151 who have been arrested who committed more than 17 terrorist attacks.

According to investigations, the defendants tried to assassinate Sisi in Mecca by placing a large quantity of explosives at the Swiss Hotel, where the cell leader Ahmed Bayoumi was monitoring al-Sisi. He was working at the Clock Tower and admitted that he recruited a number of other defendants, including a suspect identified as Hussein Mohamed who was responsible for monitoring the operation.

Investigations revealed that the defendants had bought explosives and placed them on the 34th floor of the hotel, thinking that Sisi would be staying there.

Bayoumi admitted that his wife had offered to wear an explosive suicide belt to distract troops while the rest of the cell members focused on targeting Sisi. Investigations also revealed an attempt to target Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. A dentist, Ali Ibrahim Hassan, also admitted that Ahmed Bayoumi Tahawi and Mahmoud Jaber Mahmoud Ali were planning to target Sisi and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and that a woman called Dr. Mervat, Ahmed Bayoumi’s wife, was planning on blowing herself up as women are not being monitored at the time.

Saudi king upends royal succession, names son as 1st heir

June 21, 2017

Saudi king upends royal succession, names son as 1st heir, Fox News, Associated Press, June 21, 2017

(Please see also, IRGC Commanders: Our Main Aim Is Global Islamic Rule. Perhaps the IRGC statement of intentions was among the king’s reasons for making bin Salman the new crown prince. — DM)

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud waits to greet President Trump in Riyadh (REUTERS)

In remarks aired on Saudi TV in May, Mohammed bin Salman framed the tensions with Iran in sectarian terms, saying it is Iran’s goal “to control the Islamic world” and to spread its Shiite doctrine. He also vowed to take “the battle” to Iran.

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday appointed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, placing him first-in-line to the throne and removing the country’s counterterrorism czar and a figure well-known to Washington from the line of succession.

In a series of royal decrees carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the monarch stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from his title as crown prince and from his powerful position as the country’s interior minister overseeing security.

The all-but-certain takeover of the throne by Mohammed bin Salman awards near absolute powers to a prince who has ruled out dialogue with rival Iran, has moved to isolate neighboring Qatar for its support of Islamist groups and who has led a devastating war in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians.

The prince already oversees a vast portfolio as defense minister. He has become popular among some of Saudi Arabia’s majority young population for pushing reforms that have opened the deeply conservative country to entertainment and greater foreign investment as part of an effort to overhaul the economy.

He had previously been second-in-line to the throne as deputy crown prince, though royal watchers had long suspected his rise to power under his father’s reign might accelerate his ascension.

The young prince was little known to Saudis and outsiders before Salman became king in January 2015. He had previously been in charge of his father’s royal court when Salman was the crown prince.

The Saudi monarch, who holds near absolute powers, quickly awarded his son expansive powers to the surprise of many within the royal family who are more senior and more experienced than Mohammed bin Salman, also known by his initials MBS.

Meanwhile, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, 33, was named the new interior minister tasked with counterterrorism efforts and domestic security. His father is the governor of Saudi Arabia’s vast Eastern Province, home to much of the country’s oil wealth and most of its minority Shiites. The prince is also Mohammed bin Nayef’s nephew, and previously served as an adviser to the interior and defense ministries.

The royal decree issued Wednesday stated that “a majority” of senior royal members from the so-called Allegiance Council support the recasting of the line of succession. However, that vote of support appears to have been from a past gathering of the council two years ago when Mohammed bin Salman was named second-in-line to the throne, and Mohammed bin Nayef was named the king’s successor.

The Allegiance Council is a body made up of the sons and prominent grandsons of the founder of the Saudi state, the late King Abdul-Aziz, who vote to pick the king and crown prince from among themselves. The council does not appear to have met again before Wednesday’s sudden change.

Over the weekend, the king had issued a decree restructuring Saudi Arabia’s system for prosecutions that stripped Mohammed bin Nayef of longstanding powers overseeing criminal investigations, and instead ordered that a newly-named Office of Public Prosecution and prosecutor report directly to the monarch.

The prince had appeared to be slipping from public eye and was not believed to have played a significant role in Saudi and Emirati-led efforts to isolate Qatar for its support of Islamist groups and ties with Iran.

Instead, it was his nephew, Mohammed bin Salman, who embarked on major overseas visits, including a trip to the White House to meet President Donald Trump in March. That visit to Washington helped lay the foundation for Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May, which marked the president’s first overseas visit and which was promoted heavily by the kingdom as proof of its weight in the region and wider Muslim world.

Saudi-U.S. relations had cooled under the Obama administration after Washington pursued a nuclear accord with Shiite-majority Iran that the Sunni-ruled kingdom strongly opposed.

The warm ties forged between Riyadh and Washington under the Trump administration may have helped accelerate Mohammed bin Salman’s ascension as crown prince.

Despite his ambitions, which include overhauling the economy to make it less reliant on oil, the prince has faced failures and criticism for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which he oversees as defense minister.

The war, launched more than two years ago, has failed to dislodge Iranian-allied rebels known as Houthis from the capital, Sanaa, and has had devastating effects on the impoverished country. Rights groups say Saudi forces have killed scores of civilians and have called on the U.S., as well as the U.K. and France, to halt the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the Yemen war.

The U.S. already is helping the Saudis with intelligence and logistical support for the bombing campaign in Yemen, and the Trump administration has signaled it could assist with greater intelligence support to counter Iranian influence there.

The newly-minted crown prince also raised eyebrows when he ruled out any chance of dialogue with Iran. In remarks aired on Saudi TV in May, Mohammed bin Salman framed the tensions with Iran in sectarian terms, saying it is Iran’s goal “to control the Islamic world” and to spread its Shiite doctrine. He also vowed to take “the battle” to Iran.

Iran and Saudi Arabia’s rivalry has played out in proxy wars across the region. They back opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen and they support political rivals in Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq. The conflicts have deepened Sunni-Shiite enmity between hard-liners on both sides.