“Unless you study it intensively, Saudi politics are difficult to follow because they are rooted in the drama of a very large and dysfunctional family battling over its immense wealth. If you think your own family is nuts, multiply the crazy factor by 1,000, sprinkle in a willingness to kill any family members who get in your way, and you’ll have the right perspective for grasping how Saudi ‘politics’ operate.”
(Just be happy you aren’t doing Thanksgiving in Riyadh this year.)
I was talking with some people about the situation over the weekend and it is gnarly.
See, the Saudis are in the middle of a purge and are imposing an embargo on Qatar which has connections to Turkey, the US, and shares a massive natural gas reserve with Iran in the Persian Gulf. The Iranians are sponsoring a war in Yemen on Saudi Arabia’s southern tier. The Saudis have gone into Yemen as a result. Directly across from Yemen on the other side of the Red Sea are the Americans, the Japanese, and the Chinese (not to mention the French) in Djibouti. Lebanon believes that Saudi Arabia is holding its now former Prime Minister of Lebanon hostage. (He announced his resignation from Saudi Arabia.) The war in Syria continues. The Turks continue to eye wearily (and fight when need be) a restive Kurdistan (which is partly in Syria, Turkey, and Iraq). And Saudi Arabia and Iran keep talking about “acts of war.”
Plus this morning there was a huge earthquake at the conjunction of Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Iran.
Got it? I’m sure I left a bunch of big factors out. Regardless the mess that is the Middle East is a particular mess these days.
(From Peak Prosperity)
While turbulent during the best of times, gigantic waves of change are now sweeping across the Middle East. The magnitude is such that the impact on the global price of oil, as well as world markets, is likely to be enormous.
A dramatic geo-political realignment by Saudi Arabia is in full swing this month. It’s upending many decades of established strategic relationships among the world’s superpowers and, in particular, is throwing the Middle East into turmoil.
So much is currently in flux, especially in Saudi Arabia, that nearly anything can happen next. Which is precisely why this volatile situation should command our focused attention at this time.
The main elements currently in play are these:
- A sudden and intense purging of powerful Saudi insiders (arrests, deaths, & asset seizures)
- Huge changes in domestic policy and strategy
- A shift away from the US in all respects (politically, financially and militarily)
- Deepening ties to China
- A surprising turn towards Russia (economically and militarily)
- Increasing cooperation and alignment with Israel (the enemy of my enemy is my friend?)
Taken together, this is tectonic change happening at blazing speed.