A review of the Saudi purge taking place this week


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Link here. The analysis here is the best I’ve seen, and suggests once again that we might be seeing a significant shift taking place within the Arab Middle East.

It is in the context of Saudi Arabia’s reassessment of its interests and realignment of strategic posture in recent years that the dramatic events of the past few days in the kingdom must be seen.

Saturday’s sudden announcement that a new anti-corruption panel headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the near simultaneous announcement of the arrest of more than two dozen royal family members, cabinet ministers and prominent businessmen is predominantly being presented as a power seizure by the crown prince. Amid widespread rumors that King Salman will soon abdicate the throne to his son, it is reasonable for the 32-year-old crown prince to work to neutralize all power centers that could threaten his ascension to the throne.

But there is clearly also something strategically more significant going on. While many of the officials arrested over the weekend threaten Mohammed’s power, they aren’t the only ones that he has purged. In September Mohammed arrested some 30 senior Wahhabist clerics and intellectuals. And Saturday’s arrest of the princes, cabinet ministers and business leaders was followed up by further arrests of senior Wahhabist clerics.

At the same time, Mohammed has been promoting clerics who espouse tolerance for other religions, including Judaism and Christianity. He has removed the Saudi religious police’s power to conduct arrests and he has taken seemingly credible steps to finally lift the kingdom-wide prohibition on women driving.

There’s a lot more, including details about how the Obama administration was dishonestly aiding the wrong side. Read it all

Share

17 comments

  • Phill O

    Very interesting developments! Will pass this along to folk around here who are interested in the well being of Israel.

  • Perhaps the Kingdom is realizing that a 9th Century social structure is incompatile with attracting 21st Century talent to operate a space program.

  • Nick

    You should read Thomas Wictor on Twitter. He’s been talking about the Saudi reformation for a while. I didn’t believe it until now but he’s been discussing the civil war in Islam led by the moderate saudis. This gives me some hope.

  • Nick: I have read Wictor on and off, including when he had a webpage devoted to the Middle East. I thought him credible, but also preliminary. What he suggested might be happening was then too tenuous. The events of the past week are more substantial, and might finally produce real change (with an emphasis on the “might”).

  • John E

    Don’t know if that will clean up the sand box, to many belong to the Royal family and the tree is rotten to the roots.

  • Mike Borgelt

    Maybe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to be Saudi’s Kemal Ataturk?

  • ken anthony

    “Obama aiding the wrong side.” In all cases this is how I knew which were the wrong sides. Every thing else was just confirmation.

  • Joe From Houston

    Our manned space program employed the less fortunate back in the 60’s which added huge momentum to the The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hollywood produced a recent movie about it, as you may recall. History must be repeating itself in other areas around the globe as manned space programs other than ours are popping up. I guess it takes putting heroes at risk to break barriers in getting the right people for the job that reduces that risk, regardless of race, religion, or other discriminating factors.

  • Commodude

    I wonder if the Prince killed in the chopper crash was just too well connected to put on trial and purged in another manner?

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/high-ranking-saudi-prince-killed-helicopter-crash-n817801

    Awfully suspicious timing on the chopper crash.

  • Nick

    Robert – I should have known you would know of wictor. As they used to say…!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaching_grandmother_to_suck_eggs

  • Cotour

    And people argue with me vociferously when I tell them that Obama is a philosophical Marxist and supported flooding the country with radical Islamists, this is all a part of the Globalist drive that is pushed by Soros and his operatives Obama, Hillary and ………………the Bush’s, both papa and baby Bush. (They despise Trump for more reasons than him slapping sleepy Jeb around. Trump and the patriots that surround him are a threat to Papas “New World Order” / Globalism )

    Who was ahead of all this? (Buckle up, like it or not) https://youtu.be/tk9B37qw82I

    Was Las Vegas part of the radical push back? Seems plausible given the secrecy and ridiculous scenarios that surrounds the event.

    The nationalist Trump has certainly had his effects, this shake up in Arabia appears to be a concrete example of evidence of it. You do not casually lock up a bunch of billionaire prices for corruption along with convenient helicopter “accidents” without a good reason. Lets hope Soros is on the list.

  • Laurie

    When they say, “Peace and security…” then …

  • wodun

    Well, when this story popped up about Saudi Arabia saying they would fight extremism, I was skeptical. They have been the root cause of much of the extremism through the spread of Wahhabism. But if they are arresting Wahhabist imams, it is a sign they are serious.

    That the family that control’s Islam’s most sacred relics is taking steps to combat jihad is very profound. The Islamists and jihadists are very powerful groups though that transcend all of Islamic society and appear to be rising in stature. This sets up the future ruler of SA for a broad and sustained conflict.

    It would have been nice to see the Bushs’ push the Saudis to do this but it could be that it took ISIS and similar groups for some of the royal family to open their eyes to what is happening. The Islamism and jihad fervor sweeping the Islamic world isn’t just a threat to the West, its a threat existing power structures in Islamic society.

    Of course it would have been nice if Obama pushed for this too but he always seemed to side with the jihadists and Islamists.

  • wayne

    “Atom by atom, they will coil around us, and take all that we are…”

    Star Trek Discovery
    “T’kuvma’s Speech”
    https://youtu.be/-XTce38ef98
    (1:34)

  • LocalFluff

    This all is indirectly caused by the wild shale oil drilling in places like Colorado. The Kingdom doesn’t do well with these oil prices. Their leaders rationally have no interest to support mad terror groups, they have consultants who understand that they must modernize their economy, follow the lead of the UAE. Free trade for everyone in the world in a new city near the Suez canal (away from the shia). They are living off their savings now. Madmen running around in Syria beheading people doesn’t help them.

    I don’t think it is easy for the rational westernized parts of the family. If they held free election the extremists would likely get the majority there too, as they did in Egypt, Algeria, Iran, Turkey. Creating relative freedom in Saudi Arabia requires a lot of violence and blood. And I hope that they never hold free elections!

  • wayne

    We (the United States) don’t need their oil, anymore.
    Then the Question arises;
    “What has SA done for us, lately?”
    -“Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks were citizens of Saudi Arabia, and the others were from the United Arab Emirates (2), Egypt, and Lebanon.”

  • Laurie

    The article, I believe, fails to understand the Former President’s position regarding the Saudis and Iran. Obama was not cool toward the Saudis: rather he envisions himself as the major force in ending the conflict between the Sunni and Shia factions of Islam. Now, this doesn’t happen overnight – there are a number of things that need to happen first. Specifically, Israel needs to go away and the Iranian government needs to bow to the house of Saud. For Israel to go away, engage them in a war Iran. Whatever else were to happen, Saudi Arabia wins that conflict.

    The announcement, a few weeks ago, of reforms in Riyadh were just optics and preconditioning for the purge (consolidation of power) that is now underway to mitigate any potential resistance.

    Of course, I don’t know what Trump is privy to, but signing off on such a large weapons sale to the Saudis tells me he’s all in. With Russian support of Assad winning out in Syria, plan B is about to unfold.

    Now, for the record, I am against all of this. And, I do not believe Israel would lose in any war against any Arab nation (not that there are victors in such conflicts). I’m simply sharing my impression of what’s going on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *