Boomerang royal adventures
Saudi Arabia is being sucked into the maelstrom of crisis. Economic problems spur contradictions within the ruling dynasty. To delay the imminent collapse of power is trying to at the expense of military adventures. However, the “small victorious war”, which was conceived by the operation in Yemen, may push the kingdom to collapse.
Heaven on earth, where you can live happily ever after, not bothering yourself with hard work. Such in the view of some of the inhabitants are the Arab monarchies, including Saudi Arabia. Huge oil revenues really allowed for a long time to maintain a high level of welfare of the population. True, this "paradise" always had a parasitic connotation. Saudi citizens are predominantly employed in senior positions, considering the work professions to be humiliating for themselves. The latter are the responsibility of labor migrants from Pakistan, India, Indonesia and other countries.
The 30 of millions of indigenous Saudis accounts for the 6 of millions of foreign workers. Their position, which used to be different from the conditions of life of the “white bone” for the worse, is now rapidly deteriorating. Recently, hundreds of thousands of migrants have been left without work, and even more guest workers have not been paid for months. Many have no means of returning home, leading to spontaneous protests.
Tighten the belt offered not only foreign labor. According to the King’s decree, from October 1, the salaries of government members were reduced by 20 percent, and housing and transport subsidies for a number of officials were abolished. As for all other public sector workers (and those in the country are the overwhelming majority), they were confronted with the fact of freezing salaries for an indefinite time, as well as the abolition of various benefits, allowances and bonuses. Quite painful for the population was the reduction of budget subsidies for fuel and electricity.
The reason for these measures is an acute crisis. The fall in oil prices (and 90 percent of the budget is formed due to the export of raw materials) led to a sharp decline in revenues. The budget deficit totaled almost 100 billions of dollars last year, or 16 percent of GDP. The official figures for this year are somewhat lower, but there are big doubts in their implementation. To fulfill social obligations, management is forced to spend foreign exchange reserves. But these measures do not help to slow down the spread of the crisis. The authorities announced the termination of a number of infrastructure projects, unemployment reached a record high - 11,6 percent. According to the IMF forecast, the kingdom’s financial reserves could run out within six years, which would mean a catastrophe for the Saudi economy.
To avoid this, Riyadh went to radical reforms. In April, the Vision-2030 strategy was published, aimed at reducing dependence on the export of raw materials. Two months later, the so-called National Transformation Program appeared - a kind of minimum program for the period up to the 2020 year. One of the main steps should be the partial privatization of the national oil company Saudi Aramco - the world's largest producer of "black gold". In general, the share of the private sector is planned to increase, and government spending - to reduce.
In addition, the kingdom decided to revise the course for lowering oil prices. At an informal meeting of OPEC in Algeria, the Saudi delegation did not rule out a reduction in oil production by 500 thousand barrels per day. As expected, official statements on this will be made this month.
At other times, the economic crisis could have been overcome by the country without much upheaval, but now it is aggravated by political tension. The monarchy came to a watershed associated with the problem of succession to the throne. Recall that the Saudi state appeared in the 1930-ies due to the conquests of Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, who became his first ruler. All subsequent kings, up to the present Salman Al Saud, were the sons of the prolific monarch. Last year, the king changed the principle of succession to the throne. His brother Mukrin was deprived of the title of successor, and instead of him was appointed the nephew of King Muhammad ibn Naif. Thus, a representative of the third generation of the dynasty stood in line on the throne.
However, castling has a different purpose. Salman, or rather his entourage, wants to change the order of inheritance from intrageneric to intrafamily. 31-year-old son of King Muhammad ibn Salman was appointed deputy heir to the throne. Most likely, it is in the very near future that they will try to declare him a monarch.
This is indicated by many facts. 80-year-old Salman Al Saud almost does not appear in public, according to rumors, he is seriously ill. His duties for the second year actually performs Muhammad ibn Salman. The young prince concentrated in his hands a number of key positions - the minister of defense, deputy head of government, the head of the royal court, etc. It is Muhammad ibn Salman who most often represents the country in the international arena. As for the official heir, Muhammad ibn Naif, he is in the shadow of the deputy and his role is purely nominal.
Among other members of the ruling dynasty growing discontent. There are as many 2 thousands of “princes of blood” who have no less right to the throne than the ambitious Muhammad ibn Salman, and they do not intend to cede power. According to some reports, the security authorities have already arrested several opposition representatives of the royal house.
Disagreements within the Saudi lineage can have unpredictable consequences. The economic crisis has reduced the income through which the loyalty was bought as members of the dynasty, and ordinary people. In turn, the liberalization of the economy and the admission of foreign companies to the Saudi market can cause a surge of radical Islamism.
Do not dig another pit ...
To raise the prestige of the crown prince relied on militarization. For military expenditures, the country has already moved into third place in the world. Yemen was the first training ground for running a Saudi military vehicle. Riyadh led a coalition that set a goal to crush the Hussite rebels and return power to the puppet president Mansur Hadi. A year and a half of war showed that billions in technical equipment are not the main thing for victory. The Saudi army always loses to the Yemenis in land clashes. With the exception of the capture of Aden, the coalition has not achieved any impressive success.
Moreover, the war unleashed by Riyadh spread to Saudi territory. Hussites and allied forces occupied an almost 400-kilometer lane along the border. From this bridgehead, they fire at military bases every day and make bold raids deep into the territory of the kingdom. Under the threat of capture is the airport of the city of Najran.
October 9 rebels raided the area of another provincial center - the city of Jizan. As a result, at least 25 of the Saudi military was killed, several pieces of equipment were destroyed.
The rebel expedition to Eritrea was a real shock to the aggressors. This state on the African coast of the Red Sea supports the operation in Yemen: it supplies mercenaries and allows its bases to be used. At the end of September, a Hussite detachment crossed the sea on armored cars and fired at Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates naval bases in the city of Assab. Then the landing force landed, defeated the local airport, from where the coalition combat aircraft, as well as the militant training camp, fly out. Mercenaries were preparing to send to the Saudi-Yemeni border to protect against the Huthis.
Feeling helpless, Riyadh has subjected Yemen to barbaric bombardment. October 8 Saudi Air Force struck the funeral ceremony. Thousands of people gathered in the capital to honor the memory of the father of the Minister of the Interior. The planes first destroyed the building, and then, when local residents ran to rescue the wounded, they appeared again ... According to extremely underestimated data published by the UN, 140 people died, more than 500 suffered. In Yemen itself, they talk about more than 200 dead.
In the command of the coalition disown the monstrous crime. Only a week later, the conclusions of a certain commission of inquiry were reported, which recognized that the Saudi planes had struck, but did so by mistake, guided by incorrect information. No international sanctions event entailed. The UN got off with verbal condemnation, the United States did the same. If, after the first reports of the bombing, the State Department press service announced plans to "reconsider the support of the coalition," then not a word was said about this on October 10. On this day, Secretary of State John Kerry called King Salman, who expressed "deep concern" and immediately ... supported the Saudi demands for the Huthis to withdraw troops from the border. In other words, Washington indirectly justified the actions of Riyadh.
Meanwhile, the United States shares responsibility for crimes in Yemen. The remains of air bombs found at the site of air strikes leave no doubt as to the source of their deliveries. This is understandable: the United States is the main partner of Riyadh in the military sphere. Only during the time of Obama's authority, the size of military-technical assistance amounted to 115 billion dollars. This and supplies weapons, and training for the Saudi army. Six dozen US officers directly coordinate the coalition in Yemen and work in the action control center aviation.
But the royal authorities demonstrate power not only in the south. Saudi Arabia continues to be a party to the conflict in Syria, arming and providing generous financial support to Dzhebhat an Nusra and other extremist groups. Riyadh also provokes tensions with Tehran. Saudi Arabia actually refused to accept Iranian pilgrims wishing to perform a hajj. According to the conditions put forward, Iranian citizens can arrive in the kingdom only in transit through third countries. Among the latter were named ... Australia and New Zealand, which can be regarded solely as a mockery. The supreme mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh, completely denied the Iranians the right to be followers of the Islamic faith. According to him, the inhabitants of the Islamic Republic are "descendants of Zoroastrians" and, by their very nature, hostile to Muslims. To this can be added the words of Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who accused Tehran of supporting Al-Qaida.
A sophisticated lie is accompanied by the play of muscles. In early October, Saudi Arabia conducted the Gulf Shield-1 exercise. Large-scale maneuvers were held near the sea borders with Iran - in the Persian and Oman gulfs and the Strait of Hormuz.
Instead of strengthening the influence of Muhammad ibn Salman, these adventures can not only knock the ground out from under the feet of the clan that supports him, but also destabilize the situation in the country. At least 15 percent of the country's population professes Shiism. The aggressive policy of Riyadh could provoke an explosion of discontent smoldering in recent years.
Washington does not rule out serious upheavals in Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain that the American Congress, having overcome the presidential veto, adopted the bill “Justice for Sponsors of Terrorism”. Now, US citizens who suffered during the September 11 2001 events of the year can file lawsuits against Riyadh. As follows from a previously declassified report, Saudi Arabia is not just home to most terrorists. The document contains transparent hints of involvement in the organization of attacks by individual government officials. And this is despite the fact that almost at the same time the same congress approved the delivery to Riyadh of another batch of weapons! Most likely, Washington needs an effective lever to influence an ally in the event of a change of power and political course.
One way or another, in the near future you can expect News from the Arabian Peninsula. The actions of the Saudi authorities will return to them by their own boomerang, and the blow received may be decisive.
- Sergey Kozhemyakin
- Photos used: