Saudi King Arrests Opponents; Provincial DC Press Blames Trump

 

In a story as old as monarchy itself, Saudi King Salman is clearing the way for his chosen successor. The king’s favorite son and closest advisor, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been given more and more royal duties through which he has advanced many economic and policy reforms. He’s trying to modernize the nation’s nearly medieval mindset, opening it to freer markets, religious tolerance, and even to the state of Israel.

On Saturday, the king sacked the powerful head of the Saudi national guard, who had opposed Crown Prince Mohammed. Salman then created a powerful new anticorruption committee and placed the crown prince in charge. Within hours, the committee arrested a slew of his opponents, some of the wealthiest men in Saudi Arabia.

Eleven princes, four sitting ministers, and “tens” of former ministers were taken into custody, the most prominent of which is billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal. Anyone with an even cursory understanding of history has seen this happen almost every time an aging monarch prepares to hand the crown to a successor.

But, the DC/NY press corps has identified the real story: it’s all about Trump.

The conspiracies are taking over Twitter, labeling it the “Saudi coup”:

First off, it’s not a coup when a king eliminates his enemies. That’s how the treacherous world of court politics has always worked. Second, major Saudi political developments are usually about … Saudi politics.

American journalists love to tie events halfway around the world to whatever debates are happening locally. This provincial mentality is a big reason why the US news media is so awful at covering international news.

Published in Foreign Policy
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There are 56 comments.

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  1. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: American journalists love to tie events halfway around the world to whatever debates are happening locally. This provincial mentality is a big reason why the US news media is so awful at covering international news.

    Are any of those “Twitter Journalists” real journalists?

    Or, are they just idiots slinging stuff out there for real journalists to report?

    • #1
    • November 4, 2017 at 6:38 pm
    • 3 likes
  2. Member

    Trump is a chalice of a carnival barker which the left and others pour all their fantasies of evil incarnate.

    If Trump didn’t exist it would be necessary for the left to create him, a man responsible for all the actions in the world they decry.

    • #2
    • November 4, 2017 at 6:40 pm
    • 11 likes
  3. Thatcher

    I’ll see to my own frissons, thank you very much.

    • #3
    • November 4, 2017 at 6:45 pm
    • 12 likes
  4. Member

    Serious. The Saudi National Guard is the regime protection force. Recruited from Bedouin tribes loyal to the royal house. This looks like a series of well planned actions.

    • #4
    • November 4, 2017 at 7:07 pm
    • 9 likes
  5. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    rico (View Comment):
    Are any of those “Twitter Journalists” real journalists?

    Or, are they just idiots slinging stuff out there for real journalists to report?

    Yes, the three at the top whom I identify as journalists are real ones. The three at the bottom appear to be their ill-educated consumers.

    • #5
    • November 4, 2017 at 7:19 pm
    • 2 likes
  6. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    Serious. The Saudi National Guard is the regime protection force. Recruited from Bedouin tribes loyal to the royal house. This looks like a series of well planned actions.

    Yes, and the SNG were the last arm of the military that opposed the crown prince. Now, Salman Jr. has control of all the armed forces.

    • #6
    • November 4, 2017 at 7:21 pm
    • 3 likes
  7. Member

    Ah, but isn’t Jared Kushner a Jew? We all know how much the Saudis take their orders from the Jews.

    (Did I manage to say that with a straight face?)

    • #7
    • November 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm
    • 17 likes
  8. Reagan
    iWe

    I am liking this new king. If he can deliver on his promises (without getting killed), it would be extremely encouraging for the future of Saudi Arabia and even Islam.

    • #8
    • November 4, 2017 at 8:04 pm
    • 9 likes
  9. Member

    The King is going after his foes on the grounds of corruption. The beauty of that approach is it is legitimate. Going after Saudi grandees for corruption is kind of like going after Hollywood grandees for sexual assault. Ninety percent indulge their passions (monetary or sexual), have been doing it for years despite knowing it is wrong, and are suddenly getting called on it.

    Seawriter

    • #9
    • November 4, 2017 at 8:10 pm
    • 11 likes
  10. Coolidge

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: First off, it’s not a coup when a king eliminates his enemies. That’s how the treacherous world of court politics has always worked. Second, major Saudi political developments are usually about … Saudi politics.

    If not a “coup” what would you call it when a constitutional monarch overthrows his own constitution?

    That is effectively what Salman did when he began the promotion of his own son over more senior descendants of Ibn Saud.

    Salman cut off his own younger brothers/half brothers and their offspring. Prior kings who were also sons of Ibn Saud, did not set their own sons up as their successors.

    If you were one of hundreds of Saudi princes, you formerly had the theoretical prospect of advancing to the monarchy if you lived into your 90s and kept your nose clean. Now, what? Not a recipe for stability.

    • #10
    • November 4, 2017 at 8:12 pm
    • 2 likes
  11. Member

    DocJay (View Comment)

    If Trump didn’t exist it would be necessary for the left to create him, a man responsible for all the actions in the world they decry.

    It seems Trump and Israel have something in common….

    • #11
    • November 4, 2017 at 8:13 pm
    • 6 likes
  12. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):
    Are any of those “Twitter Journalists” real journalists?

    Or, are they just idiots slinging stuff out there for real journalists to report?

    Yes, the three at the top whom I identify as journalists are real ones. The three at the bottom appear to be their ill-educated consumers.

    Would I be in violation of the CoC if I were to call out these journalists for Trump Derangement Syndrome?

    Hypothetically, of course.

    • #12
    • November 4, 2017 at 8:43 pm
    • Like
  13. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: He’s trying to modernize the nation’s nearly medieval mindset….

    Nearly medieval? I’d strike the adverb.

    • #13
    • November 4, 2017 at 8:43 pm
    • 3 likes
  14. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Going after Saudi grandees for corruption is kind of like going after Hollywood grandees for sexual assault.

    Perfectly stated.

    • #14
    • November 4, 2017 at 8:52 pm
    • 3 likes
  15. Member

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):
    Nearly medieval? I’d strike the adverb.

    Good editors usually do.

    • #15
    • November 4, 2017 at 8:53 pm
    • 6 likes
  16. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    If not a “coup” what would you call it when a constitutional monarch overthrows his own constitution?

    It’s an absolute monarchy, not a constitutional one. They consider the Quran to be their constitution.

    I prefer elections to royal purges, but the latter is the norm through most of human history.

    • #16
    • November 4, 2017 at 9:02 pm
    • 6 likes
  17. Thatcher

    Good Post, Jon. It seems to be a thing with journalists and wanna-be journalists these days: Find a way to add a Trump narrative to every story and see if it sells. I don’t know, maybe their stories get picked up quicker with the Trump angle attached to it.

    The part about Jared, however, really stretches the suspension of disbelief. A Jewish guy went to Saudi Arabia and the King hung on every word, immediately taking Kushner’s advice and arresting half the freaking kingdom. Uh huh.

    • #17
    • November 4, 2017 at 10:08 pm
    • 8 likes
  18. Thatcher

    One more demonstration that Human Nature never changes. Great post, Jon.

    • #18
    • November 4, 2017 at 10:33 pm
    • 3 likes
  19. Member

    “Provincial DC Press Blames Trump” — perhaps all news articles should have this phrase attached to the end of the title.

    • #19
    • November 4, 2017 at 11:17 pm
    • 5 likes
  20. Member

    There is this tweet from 2015

    Dopey Prince Alwaleed Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money. Can’t do it when I get elected. Trump2016
    realDonaldTrump, 10:53 PM – 11 Dec 2015

    • #20
    • November 5, 2017 at 3:49 am
    • 2 likes
  21. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Within hours, the committee arrested a slew of his opponents . . .

    Nice one!

    • #21
    • November 5, 2017 at 3:50 am
    • 1 like
  22. Member

    It’d going to be interesting to watch. Let us not forget that the Pasha set out to use his new oil wealth to modernize Iran. That didn’t work out well and Carter, his people and our media also interpreted developments there in terms of their own ignorant mind sets. When there is only one source of foreign exchange it isn’t easy to modernize an economy. In the case of Saudi Arabia, does anyone here know the place well enough to give us insights into what modernize might mean?

    • #22
    • November 5, 2017 at 3:51 am
    • 1 like
  23. Member

    I Walton (View Comment):
    In the case of Saudi Arabia, does anyone here know the place well enough to give us insights into what modernize might mean?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Vision_2030

    and

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenrwald/2017/02/25/the-worlds-biggest-ipo-is-coming-what-you-should-know-about-aramco/#43518aa5535f

    An IPO so big it will likely make any Silicon Valley unicorn look like a blip in the market. This would give Aramco a valuation of $2 trillion, making it the largest IPO ever.

    • #23
    • November 5, 2017 at 4:01 am
    • 6 likes
  24. Member

    Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to display their ignorance when history is being made. This kind of action is not only standard fare for regime change, including most hereditary successions but it is usually much more bloody. That succession is handled peacefully in the U.S. is not just a core value it is a major break with the historical modus operandi.
    What this might mean for the future track of individual liberty in Saudi Arabia, if anything, remains very much to be seen.

    • #24
    • November 5, 2017 at 4:34 am
    • 2 likes
  25. Member

    Viator (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    In the case of Saudi Arabia, does anyone here know the place well enough to give us insights into what modernize might mean?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Vision_2030

    and

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenrwald/2017/02/25/the-worlds-biggest-ipo-is-coming-what-you-should-know-about-aramco/#43518aa5535f

    An IPO so big it will likely make any Silicon Valley unicorn look like a blip in the market. This would give Aramco a valuation of $2 trillion, making it the largest IPO ever.

    Thanks. Those plans are gigantic. What are their chances of success? What are the chances of maintaining traditional order if they are successful. Not that alternatives to something like these plans are readily apparent.

    • #25
    • November 5, 2017 at 4:41 am
    • 1 like
  26. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):
    Are any of those “Twitter Journalists” real journalists?

    Or, are they just idiots slinging stuff out there for real journalists to report?

    Yes, the three at the top whom I identify as journalists are real ones. The three at the bottom appear to be their ill-educated consumers.

    In my humble opinion, anyone who uses twitter is not a “real journalist.” “Real” journalism requires more than 140 characters. These guys are closer to being headline writers – and are more interested in sensationalism and retweets than in getting the facts. Not that there are many “real journalists” in the MSM anyway.

    • #26
    • November 5, 2017 at 4:48 am
    • 3 likes
  27. Coolidge

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    If not a “coup” what would you call it when a constitutional monarch overthrows his own constitution?

    It’s an absolute monarchy, not a constitutional one. They consider the Quran to be their constitution.

    I prefer elections to royal purges, but the latter is the norm through most of human history.

    They may not have a written constitution called a constitution, but they have firm traditions that were overturned.

    • #27
    • November 5, 2017 at 5:20 am
    • 1 like
  28. Thatcher

    OkieSailor (View Comment):
    That succession is handled peacefully in the U.S. is not just a core value it is a major break with the historical modus operandi.

    This gives me the opportunity to post my favorite picture of the year. No matter how we feel about the present administration, nobody on here was sad to see this one hit the door.

    • #28
    • November 5, 2017 at 5:44 am
    • 5 likes
  29. Member

    They keep changing them for convenience:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Saud

    Hope it works out well for the people.

    • #29
    • November 5, 2017 at 6:00 am
    • Like
  30. Member

    Regarding the Jared Kushner angle, my speculation is that he took intel to the King and Crown Prince pointing to assassination plans against Lebanese PM Saad Hariri — an assassination attempt on Hariri was apparently thwarted several days ago, giving the Lebanese Sunni leader further impetus to go public with an angry denunciation of Hizballah and its patron Iran.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/report-says-lebanese-pm-survived-attempt-to-kill-him-days-before-he-quit/

    It turns out that Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, one of the grandees just arrested, is the grandson of Lebanon’s first Prime Minister on his mother’s side, and he has a cousin still active (still alive!…) on the Lebanese political scene, a guy named Riad al-Asaad (*not* the same Riad al-Asaad who headed the Free Syrian Army).

    Makes me wonder if Al-Walid got mixed up in this recent attempt on Hariri’s life, and came up in intel brought over to KSA by Kushner — doesn’t make sense on the face of it, though, inasmuch as this assassination attempt was probably a Hizballah job, and Al-Walid’s cousin in Lebanon has, at least in the past, run in elections *against* rival candidates from Hizballah.

    But one never knows…

    • #30
    • November 5, 2017 at 6:06 am
    • 2 likes
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