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Tensions Mount as the New Saudi Prince Takes Charge
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What a scary week in the Mideast. The epicenter of the world’s energy resources and the land-bridge between Asia and Africa is spinning out of control as the danger of a shooting war between the US and Russia grows daily.

A US F-18 warplane shot down a Syrian Air Force SU-22 ground attack aircraft over eastern Syria. This was a grave, reckless provocation clearly authorized by Washington. Russia, Syria’s ally, threatened to begin targeting its supposedly deadly S-300 missiles against US warplanes over Syria.

Another US warplane shot down an Iranian drone over southeastern Syria as US forces and US mercenary Arab troops closed in on a worthless piece of ground on the Syrian-Iraq border. Russia is rushing ten more warships into the Mediterranean, though most are obsolescent or small.

The US Navy is challenging – or provoking – the Iranians in the Gulf. US technicians and crews are keeping Saudi warplanes bombing Yemen, where half the population faces starvation. Just across the Red Sea, US warplanes and special forces are attacking the Somalia nationalist resistance movement, Shebab. At least 4,000 more US troops are headed for Afghanistan’s stalemated war.

US Marines are attacking ISIS positions near Mosul, al-Tanf and Raqaa and adding long-ranged HIMARS artillery rockets. American forces are using white phosphorus, a hideous chemical weapon, against Isis defenders. Iran may send more ‘volunteer’ troops into Syria and Iraq as US warplanes probe Iran’s airspace. Turkey is reportedly moving against US-backed Kurds in Syria. Some Mideast experts believe the US may be set on partitioning Syria.

A US fighter just buzzed a Russian aircraft over the Baltic carrying Russian defense minister Sergei Shogu until chased away by Russian fighters. Moscow is under growing pressure to retaliate against the US though President Vladimir Putin insists he wants no military confrontation with Washington.

Adding to these tensions, a palace coup in Saudi Arabia just sidelined the kingdom’s iron-handed number two, former Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef and replaced him by 31-year old Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son of King Salman. The King is said to be seriously ill. But the 15,000-member Saudi family is not pleased by the defenestration of heir apparent Nayef.

Prince – now crown prince – Mohammed was the author of Saudi Arabia’s stalemated war in Yemen, which is burning through the kingdom’s cash reserves at a time when oil prices are plunging and has killed large numbers of civilians. He is behind the recent Saudi-Egyptian-Israeli tacit alliance.

It was Prince Mohammed who came up with the plan to run US shale producers out of business by launching an oil price war. It has backfired badly. The Saudis even had to borrow $9 billion to keep the kingdom running.

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Arab critics assert that the young prince is rash and inexperienced. The Trump administration likes Prince Mohammed a lot. He is about the same age as Trump’s favorite, son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is in Israel this week supposedly crafting a final peace settlement between Jews and Arabs after a century of conflict. What a cruel joke this is.

Kushner has been meeting with Israel’s wily PM Netanyahu, who has no intention of ever allowing a Palestinian state, and with over-the-hill Palestinian ‘leader,’ Mahmoud Abbas, who is 82. Abbas is widely reviled as a US/Israel puppet who was made PLO leader after the untimely death of Yasser Arafat. The shady Mohammed Dahlan, rumored to be CIA’s Palestinian ‘asset,’ waits in the wings to replace the doddering Abbas.

The authentic Palestinian government, Hamas, is locked up in Gaza and totally isolated by a joint Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian campaign. Back in Washington, most of Trump’s senior advisors are ardent supporters of Israel. So with whom will young Kushner, himself an orthodox Jew, negotiate? As in decades past, Washington’s supporters of Israel’s moderates will negotiate with Israel’s right. Is it any wonder there is no Mideast peace?

Meanwhile, the new Saudi Crown Prince proclaims he will modernize the kingdom, diversify away from its oil and gas economy, and make himself leader of the Arab world. Those who do not readily agree, like little Qatar, will be squashed like bugs.

It’s a tall order. But we wish Crown Prince Mohammed well because Saudi Arabia, the world’s most ultra-conservative nation, very badly needs shaking up, modernization and less theocracy. The skimpy army is denied ammo and transport for fear of a coup, and the kingdom employs large numbers of foreign mercenaries.

In the past, 15,000 tough Pakistani troops defended the royal family. Pakistan’s former president, Zia ul-Haq, told me many funny stories of his days as a military advisor in Saudi and Iraq. Today, US forces in the region protect the Saudis from their neighbors and their own sometimes restive people.

Add the rising dangers in Syria, Iraq and the Gulf to this tense situation and we can count on Arabia and the Levant to provide lots of fireworks in days to come.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. 5371 says:

    The buzzing plane over the Baltic was Polish.
    One shouldn’t retail the propaganda about Mohammed bin Salman as cool, modernizing, hipster prince. At least, not unless one is paid to do so.

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  2. turtle says:

    So, Reinhard Nutandyahoo and Heinrich Kushner are going to work out the final solution to the Arab question?
    First guess: KzL Gaza, expanded as necessary, with additional land to be “donated” by Egypt in the long run.
    Second guess: Resettlement to the east (of the Euphrates)….

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  3. A very good summary of events. A hidden but vital political force in Saudi Arabia is The Ulema.

    Although it is allegedly an absolute monarchy, the Ulema exercises veto power over the King. The only other country in the region with the religious state so powerful is Iran – and these two religious bodies would love to destroy one another. The Shia in Iran, and the perverted Wahhabi head-choppers in Saudi Arabia.

    Yemen is a proxy war between the two. Our policy there is to both be fighting Al Qaeda while supporting it at the same time.

    The US hasn’t faced much of consequence in a war for more than a generation. The current crop of dumbed-down government school sissies is whining about “micro-aggressions” while white phosphorous bombs are raining down on the heads of children in places like Yemen.

    The Russians have held mass civilian nuclear war exercises while the snowflakes in the US have no place to go and wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do. It does not even register in their minds that nuclear war is possible. So the Russian citizenry is keen on their understanding of consequences while the snowflakes aren’t. It enables our government to behave recklessly while theirs is thinking carefully about how to protect its citizens.

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  4. mikh as says:

    80% of the Russian armada present or inbound for the med is built within the latest 10 year period, the two leading (big) ships are on their first and second mission after commission. That’s hardly “obsolete” by any standards.

    What US war planners have learnt lately is that even relatively small Russian ships like corvettes are crammed with firepower, kalibr cruise missiles most notably.

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  5. It’s not only funny but also unrealistic that two guys in their thirty-something want to find the magic formula for solving the Middle East conflict. Wow, Good luck for Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman, Saudis irrational hitman and expected next king. If Trump administration doesn’t take serious advice, they are going to end up in another disaster. The US hasn’t won a war in the last 70 years, they have, however, screwed up the whole Middle East, especially after the assassination of JFK by whomever. The right-wing US Zionists have been formulating US Mideastern policy in the interest and for the advancement of Israel. They have worked to the detriment of the US. The Saudi dictatorship is rotten. They have to rely on foreign mercenaries to protect their decadence. There are rumors that Israeli pilots are doing the dirty work for the Saudis in Yemen because they can’t trust their pilots. And with such morons, the US is co-operating. The Trump administration must be out of its mind.

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  6. Didi says:

    Saudi Arabia happens to be one of 38 states where our ambassador resigned on January 20, 2017 and no new ambassador has been confirmed yet. It is astonishing to find Canada, the UK, Japan, Argentina, Jordan, South Korea, and India on that list. Also 15 European NATO allies. There are additional openings due to even earlier resignations under Obama. Since January 20, 2017 the following ambassadors were confirmed: China, Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Samoa, and Senegal.
    US diplomacy is dead in the water. Ambassadors have been replaced by generals.

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  7. Munchen says:

    Saudi Arabia will be big news country very soon. Recall Crown Prince elevation was completed with support of Israeli air force on the ground at invitation of Saudis.
    There is much commingling of interests in Saudi as Iran and Shia crescent presents common enemy. Israeli security already consults with Saudi anti-terror people. Next you may see more joint operations on Syrian Golan Heights oil.
    The real prize is the Saudi oil. That is the long goal.

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