by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
In Part 1 of this series, I detailed the recent aggressive power plays initiated by 30-something Saudi princeling Mohamed bin Salman (MBS), who is effectively the absolute leader of Saudi Arabia at this time. I also highlighted how 30-something U.S. princeling Jared Kushner, son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump, may have been involved in MBS’s scheming during an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia a little over a week before the purge hammer dropped. Today’s post will focus on what I think this means for the future of the Middle East, as well as U.S. imperial ambitions.
Before I get started, I want to make something clear. I don’t think I’m Nostradamus or anything. These posts are based on the assumption that certain realities remain in place in the months and years ahead. The first is that Mohamed bin Salman’s attempt to consolidate power will prove successful, at least long enough for him to make more extremely stupid mistakes. The second assumption is that Donald Trump will continue to foolishly give this princeling a blank check when it comes to whatever insane aggressions he pursues within the region.
It’s perfectly clear that MBS views recent setbacks in Syria, where Saudi ISIS forces were routed by Russia and Assad, as unacceptable. As such, he’s looking for another place to fight a proxy war with Iran. Never mind the fact that his war in Yemen has been a total failure and humanitarian disaster, MBS doesn’t appear to be someone who lets one failure get in way of future failures. He appears to have chosen Lebanon as the place for his next chaotic adventure.
In that regard, I found a post published at Moon of Alabama extremely informative. Here’s an excerpt from that piece:
Four days ago we asked: Is The “Moderate Al-Qaeda” Set To Target Hizbullah?. The implied answer in that piece was “Yes, the war is coming to Lebanon.”
The Saudi-Israeli-U.S. axis will lose this war while Iran and Russia will win from it.
Earlier this week the extremely sectarian Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan had threatened Hizbullah in Lebanon and announced surprises:
Firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on Monday called for “toppling Hizbullah” and promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days.”
Referring to his Sunday tweet about the Lebanese government, the minister said: “I addressed my tweet to the government because the Party of Satan (Hizbullah) is represented in it and it is a terrorist party. The issue is not about toppling the government but rather that Hizbullah should be toppled.”
“The coming developments will definitely be astonishing,” al-Sabhan added.
While the fighting in Syria and Iraq was ongoing, Lebanon was kept at peace. With the wars ending Lebanon is again the place where proxy fights are carried out.
The resignation of Hariri is intended to provoke a constitutional crisis in Lebanon and to prevent new parliament elections. The further Saudi plan is likely to evolve around these elements:
- The Trump administration will announce new sanctions against Hizbullah and against Lebanon in general.
- The Saudi government will slip some of its al-Qaeda/ISIS proxy fighters from Syria and Iraq into Lebanon (possibly via Turkey by sea). It will finance local Lebanese terror operations.
- There will be new assassination attempts, terror attacks and general rioting by Sunni extremist elements against Christians and Shia in Lebanon.
- The U.S. will try to press the Lebanese army into a war against Hizbullah.
- Israel will try to provoke and divert Hizbullah’s attention by new shenanigans at the Lebanese and Syrian border. It will NOT start a war.
The plan is unlikely to succeed:
- The Lebanese people as a whole have no interest in a new civil war.
- The Lebanese army will not get involved on any specific side but will try to keep everyone calm.
- Sanctions against Hizbullah will hit all of Lebanon, including Sunni interests.
- A new Sunni prime minister will be found and installed, replacing the resigned Saudi puppet.
- Russian and Iranian economic interests will find a new market in Lebanon. Russian companies will engage in Lebanese gas and oil extraction in the Mediterranean and replace U.S. involvement.
The miscalculated Saudi/U.S./Israeli plan against Hizbullah can be understood as a helpless tantrum after their defeat in Syria and Iraq.
In their manic attempts to push back against perceived Iranian (and Russian) influence the Saudis and the U.S. have enabled Iran (and Russia) to gain better and more secure standing that they could ever have hoped to achieve otherwise. Why the Saudis think that their new adventure in Lebanon will have a different result is beyond me.
I completely agree with the above analysis. Everything Saudi princeling MBS has attempted overseas has been an unmitigated disaster, and I expect his Lebanon plan and any that follow will end the same way. The reason this is so important to the world is Donald Trump has completely attached himself to this reckless lunatic. I’ve been warning about this all year, but in case you have any doubts.
I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017
When it comes to the incredible stupidity of Trump going all in with this guy, I came across two perfect paragraphs written by Daniel Larison in The American Conservative.
Trump’s embrace of the Saudis has been one of the greatest blunders of his presidency to date, and today he has reaffirmed that he has profoundly bad judgment when it comes to this relationship. There is no reason to have confidence in Salman and his son after the last two and a half years, and there is certainly nothing to support the claim that they know what they are doing. The war on Yemen has become a quagmire for the Saudis and their allies and a catastrophe for the people of Yemen. Trump supports it. The campaign against Qatar has been a useless and ill-advised misadventure that is also hurting members of the Saudi-led bloc. Trump has been an enthusiastic cheerleader. The crown prince is carrying out a massive purge that will drive away foreign investment in the short term and destabilize the kingdom. Once again, Trump is only too happy to approve of anything the Saudi government does, no matter how dangerous or despicable it may be.
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