by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times:
The US tour of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a triumph of multi-million-dollar post-truth public relations
The current US tour of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, is a triumph of multi-million-dollar post-truth public relations.
The fact that MBS also happens to be destroying Yemen is just a minor glitch. Smooth PR is always able to secure the maxim that not all dictators, Arab or otherwise, are equal; after all “our” bastards can get away with everything.
Until they can’t – as in Saddam Hussein or Hosni Mubarak.
MBS’s PR orb sucks up everything, from a softball 60 Minutes interview to schmoozing with a galaxy of high-profile figures such as Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, close pal Jared Kushner, James Mattis, Barack Obama, John Kerry, David Petraeus, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Tim Cook, and the CEOs of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Amazon, Uber and the Walt Disney Company.
MBS might as well be enshrined as the geopolitical Bono – and he doesn’t even need to sing “One Love.”
All that is supported by a glossy 97-page hagiography by the media group AMI, which publishes ‘The National Enquirer’ and ‘US Weekly’, hitting all the crucial talking points (“our closest Middle East ally destroying terrorism”; “transforming the world”; “the most influential Arab leader”; “improving lives of his people and hopes for peace”).
MBS was welcomed by both Harvard and MIT. He was lauded for his unprecedented – at least in Arabia – wisdom to build the world’s biggest solar power plant, a project expected to create up to 100,000 jobs and save billions of dollars.
He was reverentially allowed a free pass on virtually any subject – from refusing to admit the global march of Wahhabism as a key source of terrorism to his alleged promotion of “religious tolerance.” Of course, Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, is, by comparison, in the Crown Prince’s own words, “a Hitler.”
MBS at least admitted that the House of Saud’s building of mosques and madrasas all across the lands of Islam was a key Cold War gambit, when “allies” – as in Washington – were fighting the Soviet Union no holds barred.
He said the House of Saud had “lost track” of what happened – as if the jihad in Afghanistan and the Kalashnikov culture that enveloped Pakistan were paranormal phenomena. Now, “we have to get it all back.”
Nonsense. The House of Saud’s only policy towards Salafi jihadism – all forms of which are a direct offspring of the Wahhabi matrix – has always been that it’s better to have clusters of jihadis roaming abroad than having to fight them inside Saudi borders.
MBS also said that jihadist funding now comes largely from Saudi-based “foundations” rather than Riyadh. As if the self-elevated Crown Prince – who reached his position via a decree laboriously extorted from his mentally ill father – could not get rid of these “foundations” in a flash.
Moreover, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia remains a model of religious intolerance – which is a serious, direct contradiction of the precepts of Islam. Christians, Hindus, Shi’ites (a significant 15% of the overall population), Sufis and even any non-Wahhabi Sunnis feel they’re being constantly repressed and/or persecuted.