The unprecedentedly aggravated domestic situation in Saudi Arabia against the background of the kingdom’s struggle against Iran in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen gave rise to a number of serious foreign policy crises. In Syria, the Saudis are not allowed to turn around Russian videoconferencing. Sudden resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri amid rumors of his detention at KSA, the blockade of Yemeni ports, fraught with mass starvation, which may have caused millions of people, and the cholera epidemic due to the destruction of infrastructure during the bombing of the Arabian coalition could blow up the region .
Analysts talk about the possibility of a third Lebanese war with the participation of Israel and the threat of Iran’s response to Saudi Arabia. The basis of this article is the materials of the experts of IBI P. Ryabov and Yu. Shcheglovina.
Missiles in response to awards
At the beginning of last week, after launching a rocket across Riyadh, the command of the Arabian coalition announced the closure of all airports and ports of Yemen and called on residents of the country, as well as staff of diplomatic and humanitarian missions to avoid visiting military areas and regions beyond the control of the legitimate government.
On November 4, an air force of a coalition led by KSA launched a series of blows to the Housit positions in the capital of Yemen in response to a rocket launch. Before that, Saudi air defenses intercepted the Burkan-2 BR, launched by the Khousits towards the international airport in 35, north of Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia has announced an 30 award of millions of dollars for information that will help detain the leader of the rebellious Yemeni Ansar Allah movement, A. M. al-Housi. The kingdom authorities released a list of 40 leaders of this organization who are accused of terrorism. The overwhelming majority are the leaders of the Khousits and field commanders. The monetary reward for information that will “neutralize” a person from the list ranges from five to 30 millions. 20 million dollars promised for one of the leaders of these detachments S. al-Samad.
The fright of Riyadh is caused by the fact that lately, the Housits regularly launch targets at KSA on Iranian missiles, and not all are intercepted by the American Patriot system. Thus, the attack on the oil port of Yanbu on the Red Sea coast about two months ago and the shelling of KSA air forces in Najran last year were successful.
In the current case, the rocket passed over the suburbs of Riyadh and could hit urban areas, and its fragments fell partly within the boundaries of the airfield. If the Iranians (they send missiles, testing their products in conditions close to combat) will give a volley for the Saudi goal, the consequences will be dire. Basically, these missiles are not yet equipped with warheads, but are blanks. When the Iranians successfully fired at Yanbu two months ago, they fired several volleys before and after the port attack. First they fired at Medina, which caused a stir in the KSA air defense system. The missile was intercepted, but the attackers' efforts were concentrated in this direction, which allowed them to hit the target in the port in a few days. If Iranians can launch a rocket salvo, then, according to American experts, half of the strikes will reach the goal. Burkan-2 components are shipped by sea from Somalia. Hence, the Saudis attempt to blockade the sea coast of Yemen, which will slightly reduce the volume of smuggling, but will increase tensions between Riyadh and the UN and NGOs accusing the Saudi leadership of sabotaging the delivery of cholera, which cannot be localized, to Yemen.
KSA naval ships are "substituted" for Iranian land attacks, and the two previous shelling of Saudi destroyers last month with anti-ship missiles and sea drones were successful. Missile launch on KSA, among other things, had the task of finally burying separate negotiations between the former President of Yemen A.A. Saleh (blocked in the capital's residence) and Riyadh, which went on all summer through the mediation of the UAE, which stimulated the military activity of KSA using aviation (Saudi Arabia cannot do this physically “on the ground”). This carries the risk of erroneous attacks on civilian targets and civilian casualties, which intensifies discussions in the US Congress and EU capitals about the advisability of selling aerial bombs and missiles to Riyadh.
Old elite and young wolves
The KSA authorities have accused Iran of supplying the BR with the Housits, which in Riyadh is viewed as a direct military threat from the Islamic Republic. The head of the Saudi Foreign Ministry A. Al-Jubeir said: the kingdom reserves the right to give a proportional response to hostile actions. To oppose anything other than air raids on the civilian population of Yemen, the Saudis cannot. Blocking the coalition of borders, which Riyadh declared, will have no effect - they are conditional, and the kingdom cannot close their own Armed Forces. Participation in the patrols of the fleets of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates will not help either. The ineffectiveness and expensive German system of technical monitoring of land borders has shown.
Did the Iranian rocket launches on the KSA territory coincide with cleansing in the state apparatus and scrapping the old elite of Saudi Arabia? For sure. American experts argue that the Crown Prince began a large-scale restructuring of the kingdom’s social structure, trying to bring it into line with reality, which will stimulate the modernization of the monarchy’s economy. Hence, projects for the construction of cities of the future (each new king begins to lay them out and never ends) and statements about the transformation of KSA into a secular state. And as the first stage of modernization, replacing the old elite with young princes from the third hundred in the hierarchy of the royal family.
In the United States, it is believed that the future king and his father are driven by the motives for democratizing the country according to Western patterns and its foreign policy priorities will soon change. Will not change. US President D. Trump received assurances from M. bin Salman that the IPO of the national oil company KSA ARAMKO (about five to seven percent of the shares) in 2018 will be held on the stock exchanges of New York, and not London, on which insisted members of the Saudi Cabinet and Prince A. bin Talal insisted. British Foreign Minister B. Johnson, expressing loyalty to M. bin Salman on the occasion of "Iranian aggression", is trying to win back the lost match. This, like billions weapons contracts, the basis of Washington's support for M. Ben Salman in his fight against the old elite of the KSA.
US support for the Crown Prince is crucial. He tied up Washington’s economic interests by showing the Americans that he was the guarantor of their realization in the kingdom. This is what explains his pro-American position. M. Bin-Salman needs an external ally to fight inside KSA, and for this he closes American interests (including political ones: let us remember the suicidal attack of pro-Saudi militants from Idlib on the Russian military police at the request of the Americans) in their hands. His motivation is the struggle for power.
Modernization will freeze immediately after the destruction of any rival forces within the kingdom. Corruption will not disappear anywhere, otherwise there will be no loyalty and support for young princes. No one from the KSA royal family will live for a salary. There will be new rules of the game, middlemen and subcontractors. The same applies to foreign policy: increasing influence and opposition to Iran using the Islamist factor. There are no other tools for such a policy in Riyadh. He has finances, but there is no efficient army, no matter how much you arm or modernize. Since the “Islamist factor” remains, there must be a system of conservative theological values. All generations of Saudis were brought up in it and they read for the most part one book in their life - the Koran.
At the same time, the mass detentions of members of the royal family, current and former ministers - the widest repressive campaign in the Saudi elite over the entire existence of the KSA. We are talking about four current ministers and dozens of former. The main arrested are Prince A. Bin Talal and ex-commander of the National Guard M. Bin Abdullah. All of them are accused of “corruption”, which in KSA (and in all other Arab states) is just a lifestyle of life and business, and accusations of it are a universal reason for justifying repression. All that King Salman and his son are doing is clearing the kingdom’s political system for the transfer of power to the heir without problems. And, judging by their actions, the procedure may take place soon: either at the end of this year, or at the very beginning of the next.
The king is old and sick. He is afraid not to have time to carry out a smooth personnel cleansing, as it is supposed to do in the East: while preserving the main links of the system of checks and balances among the clans of the royal family through compensation for opponents of losing positions in the executive power system by providing financial guarantees in other areas. Castling in power occurred with all the kings in the first stage of their accession to the throne. Then each clan had its own control zone in the executive branch, which was inherited. Now for the first time an attempt is made to break it. Following the scrapping of the traditional system of the succession, a change in the structure of the distribution of senior posts occurs and the financial flows are reoriented from the old clans in favor of the young princes of the second and third echelons of the royal family.
The 11 princes' arrest was the culmination of a repressive campaign to change the old elite. Prior to this, the second Crown Prince and former Interior Minister M. Bin Nayef, as well as several dozen representatives of the clergy, were arrested. And with these people, the young "almost king" will face the most serious problems. The KSA may well undergo a revolution along Iran’s 1979 model of the year. In the kingdom, there was a united fronde to the very idea of the arrival of M. ben Salman in power, which included representatives of the majority of clans of the royal family and high clerics. From the covert rejection and sabotage of the majority of social reforms and transformations assumed by the crown prince, these opponents got down to business.
The arrest of A. Bin Talal and M. Bin Abdullah (and M. Bin Nayef’s house arrest) is associated with the unsuccessful assassination attempt in August on M. Bin Salman in Jeddah. Among the main customers of the attempt they are called. The role of the financier was played by A. bin Talal, and the organizer was M. bin Nayef. Moreover, the repressions of the opponents of the heir occurred with a delay of two months, including because not all of the power unit was reoriented to the people of the new heir to the throne. To this end, it was necessary to create a State Security Presidium headed by A. Al-Hauairiini, who collected a dossier on M. bin Salman's opponents, which formed the basis of the charges. At the same time, they reshuffled the kingdom’s power unit, and the appointment of the personal creature of King Salman H. Ayaf to the national guard commander was completed. In addition, it was necessary to collect materials for allegations of corruption, since the fact of the plot to murder M. Bin Salman was decided not to be made public.
Hariri - troublemaker
Lebanese Prime Minister S. Hariri announced his resignation from a post during a televised address from Riyadh, where he arrived last Friday on a working visit and held talks with the Crown Prince. The prime minister said that his life was threatened. The reason he called "the intervention of Iran and his accomplices in the face of the Shiite Hezbollah party in the internal affairs of the country", which "he could not resist." Lebanese President M. Aoun said that he was “awaiting Hariri’s return to Beirut in order to formally accept his resignation”. Formally, he did not accept the resignation of the head of government.
The resignation of Hariri made by November 4 is unprecedented. None of the Lebanese prime ministers did this. Announcing withdrawal through foreign media is a bad tone. This puts a cross on Hariri’s political career. At one time, his figure as the future head of government raised many questions in Riyadh. It did not see a counterweight to the growing Iranian influence in the country through local Shiites and Hezbollah. And inside the Sunni opposition to his leadership grew. The Hariri coalition showed vague results in the last municipal elections, and the KSA tended to replace the prime minister with the then head of the General Staff of the Lebanese Armed Forces, J. Kahwaji, with the prospect of nominating him for the country's presidency, but refused this idea. Subsequent events showed that Saudi fears were justified. Hariri’s role as a counterweight to Lebanese Shiites and their supporters has come to naught.
The new president of Lebanon, M. Aung, carried out changes in the army and special services, taking them under his control. This had a positive effect on the struggle against the Salafi groups of the Syrian resistance on the Lebanese-Syrian border, which was led by the Lebanese army and Hezbollah. The figure of the premiere began to get lost against the background of President Aoun. A number of experts came to the conclusion that Riyadh decided to provoke a new political crisis in Lebanon in order to curb the growing influence of the Shiites and thwart the normalization of Syrian-Lebanese relations. Perhaps, if we consider that the decision on the resignation of Hariri was made after a conversation with the chief coordinator of the KSA policy on the "Shiite" and regional areas, State Minister for Gulf Affairs S. Al-Sabhan, who was ambassador to Iraq and deported from there at the request of Baghdad "for unbridled anti-Shiites propaganda.
Hariri does not trust Crown Prince KSA M. Bin Salman. He was confined to the clans of Prince Bandar and A. bin Talyal, and his father, Rafik Hariri, was guided by the clan of the former King Abdullah, whose second son he was called. The financial interests of the clan Hariri are tied to the opponents of the Crown Prince. All this clearly led to the decision of M. Bin Salman to sacrifice an objectionable politically weak figure to stimulate another political crisis in the country and restrain Iranian expansion, gaining time to search for a new person in the Sunni community of Lebanon as the main counterparty to increase Saudi influence there. It can be assumed that such a figure was found and now maneuvers will begin on his nomination for the role of the leader of the March 14 Coalition.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have demanded that their citizens urgently leave the territory of Lebanon and refrain from traveling to this country because of the unstable situation. Earlier, a similar recommendation was made by Bahrain. These steps Arabian monarchy went after the announcement of the resignation of the Prime Minister of Lebanon. Saudi Foreign Minister A. Al-Jubeir in an interview with CNBC did not rule out that Riyadh could break the diplomatic relations with Beirut. According to Al-Hayat, KSA warned President Aoun that the policy of Hezbollah in the region is contrary to the interests of Christians. The head of Lebanon received on Friday at the Baabd Palace the charge d'affaires of the Saudi kingdom in Lebanon, V. Bukhari, and told him "about the unacceptability of the circumstances under which Hariri announced his resignation."
Recall the successes of the current president in the fight against the Salafi factions on the border with Syria, including the pro-Saudi "Dzhebhat al-Nusra" (banned in Russia), relying on Sunni refugees, of whom there are about two million in Lebanon. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Lebanese territory has been used by Riyadh for subversive activities against Damascus, including throwing foreign jihadists there. This was done through sections of the border controlled by pro-Saud Salafis and a number of Palestinian refugee camps in the capital. Aun first cleared the main Salafi centers in the Palestinian camps in Beirut, and then the Shiites lost ground on the border of the Lebanese army, which began their active stripping. As a result, a significant part of the militants with their families left for Idlib.
All this happened with the inaction of Hariri, who virtually disappeared from the bulletin. News. So there was no need for an attempt on him. If he really feared for his life, he would emigrate to Paris, where he lived three years before his return to power. It is possible that Hariri was simply detained at KSA, and he is under house arrest. Fortunately, direct financial assistance from Riyadh was spent “unaddressed” to him, and this was the reason for a number of claims by Saudi curators. Experts also believe that in the current situation in Lebanon, Hariri himself wanted to resign as prime minister, which he asked permission from the Saudi crown prince, provoking him to yet another outbreak of rabies.
The situation between Riyadh and Beirut is unprecedented and causes enormous image damage to KSA, not to mention the consequences for Saudi influence in Lebanon. The United States and Great Britain are discussing with the Lebanese the modernization of the power side of their country. In this regard, the head of the Lebanese State Security Administration (UGB) of Lebanon, General A. Ibrahim, conducted negotiations in the United States at the end of September. And the UGB is controlled by the Shiites ...