فضيحة مجلجلة .. من اشترى كل أسواق الذهب في استانبول؟؟ الجواب: الثورجيون السوريون

بقلم نارام سرجون

لايعرف الثورجوين السوريون كيف هزموا وقد وقفت معه أعظم دول العالم وأغناها .. بل وكل وسائل الاعلام والتضليل .. وتحولت مساجد العالم الاسلامي الى ثكنات لتجنيد المتطوعين ..

ولم يخطر ببال أحدهم تفسير كيف أن العالم كله وقف يتحدى الأسد وجيشه وشعبه ولكن دون جدوى .. يحاول الثورجيون أن يضعوا أيديهم على سر قوة الاسد وشعبه وجيشه رغم المؤامرة الكونية عليهم .. ويعزي المعارضون النفس وهم يظنون أن الروس والايرانيين وحزب الله وقفوا بصلابة الى جانب الدولة الوطنية السورية وحرموا الثوار من النصر الذي كاد ينجز .. لكن الثورجيين الأغبياء لايريدون ان يسمعوا مأساتهم .. وهي أن من هزمهم هو فقدانهم لشيء واحد فقط هو الأخلاق .. فشعاراتهم كانت بلا أخلاق وقصصهم محشوة بالأكاذيب .. وطلباتهم ملأى بالغرور والصلف والبطر .. وتعنتهم كان مأجورا لغيرهم .. ولذلك فان هذه الاجواء لن تفرز الا خيانات ولصوصية وسرقة وطعنات في الظهر .. وأنانية .. وجشعا .. فكانت الطبقة التي قادت كل شيء هي أكثر الطبقات فسادا على الاطلاق .. وهي الطبقة التي التصقت كالعلقة بـ (النظام) ولما سقطت من كثرة ماملأت بطنها بالدم الذي لعقته ..التصقت بجسد مايسمى (الثورة السورية) وغرزت خراطيمها في أكياس الذهب وامتصت كل شيء ..
أن كل من تنطح لتزعم الثورة وقيادتها والاشراف عليها سياسيا كان يرى الثورة مثلما كان حمد بن جبر وأميره بن خليفة يريان سورية (صيدة ونتهاوش عليها) .. فكل الثورجيين تبين انهم عارضوا وانشقوا وسبوا وشتموا لقاء المال الذي كان يتدفق كالأنهار وليس بسبب الكرامة المنقوصة كما زعموا والحاجة لاستنشاق الحرية التي حرموا منها .. وكان هناك مئات الفصائل المسلحة التي ينهمر عليها المال كالمطر .. ولكن المطر هطل ذهبا في استانبول وباريس ولندن .. فقد اشترى الثورجيون بما ملكته أيديهم من الاموال المنهوبة والداعمة كل مايقدرون عليه لحساباتهم الشخصية ..
اسمعوا كيف استحال سوق الذهب في استانبول الى سوق سوري بعد ان اشترى الثورجيون (بأموالهم) كل شبر في سوق الذهب التركي الضخم الأسطوري .. فمن اين لهم كل هذا؟؟؟ من التبرعات النفطية؟؟ أم من بيع معامل حلب؟؟ أم من تجارة الأثار والجنس وبيع السبايا؟؟ ام من سرقة كل ماوقعت عليه ايديهم من مؤسسات الدولة وسكك الحديد ومحطات الطاقة والصوامع والنفط والبشر والأعضاء البشرية ؟؟ أم كل هذا؟؟ أم من بيع شرفهم وبلادهم ؟؟ اليس هذا المال الحرام المسروق مالا فاسدا لاحلال فيه؟؟ الاتظنون انه سياتي يوم يتم فيه تأميم سوق الذهب التركي بمجرد رحيل حزب العدالة والتنمية ويذهب هذا المال بسهولة كما وصل بسهولة؟؟ لاتظنوا أن الأتراك سيقبلون ان يتحكم بسوق الذهب عندهم لقطاء ولصوص سوريون ..
مشاهد غريبة كأنها الخيال يرويها شاهد عيان محترم هو الدكتور أسامة فوزي مما رأى وسمع في قلب استانبول عاصمة (الثوار السوريين) .. وهو لايشبه شهود عيان الجزيرة وفيصل القاسم حتما ..
أيها الثوار .. اسمعوا وعوا .. ان مافات مات .. وان من مات منكم مات .. ولكن كل ماهو آت آت .. فاعتبروا ياأولي الالباب والثورات والسرقات .. وكل من هو منكم باق .. فليسمع لثوار الكرامة والأخلاق ..

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Why Are We Helping Saudi Arabia Destroy Yemen?

Why Are We Helping Saudi Arabia Destroy Yemen?

By Moon Of Alabama

November 21, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The Saudi clown prince Mohammad Bin Salman is an impulsive tyrant. But what accounts for his urge to purge the country of any potential competing power center Why does he run a such an activist foreign policy? The answer might be Iran. Not Iran the country, but Iran the system.

Since the U.S. war on Iraq the sclerotic Saudi Arabia continuously lost standing in its region. The Iranian model gained ground. A decade later the authoritarian Arab systems were challenged by the so called “Arab spring”. While the movements in the various countries -as far as they were genuine- have failed, they were a warning sign for things to come.

Saudi Arabia reacted to the challenges by moving away from a sedate, consensual run family business towards a centrally controlled, supercharged tyranny. The move allows for more flexible and faster reactions to any future challenge. But it also increases the chance of making mistakes. To understand why this endeavor is likely to fail one needs look at the traditional economic and social system that is the fabric of the country. The fate of the Hariri dynasty is an example for it.

Since Salman climbed the throne he has moved to eliminate all competition to his rule. The religious establishment was purged of any opposition. Its police arm was reigned in. First crown prince Murqrin was removed and then crown prince Nayef. They were replaced with Salman’s inexperienced son. Economic and military powers were concentrated in his hands. During the recent night of the long knives powerful family members and business people were detained. The Wall Street Journal reports of a second arrest wave. More higher ups have been incarcerated. This round includes senior military commanders and very wealthy business people.

As the prison for the arrested VIPs, the Ritz-Carlton hotel, is fully booked, the next door Mariott is now put to use. Qualified staff was hired to handle the prisoners:

As many as 17 people detained in the anti-corruption campaign have required medical treatment for abuse by their captors, according to a doctor from the nearest hospital and an American official tracking the situation.

The former Egyptian security chief, Habib el-Adli, said by one of his advisers and a former Egyptian interior minister to be advising Prince Mohammed, earned a reputation for brutality and torture under President Hosni Mubarak.

After the torture reports spread due to employees of local hospitals, a medical unit was established in the Ritz itself.

My assertion in earlier pieces, that one motive of the arrest wave was to fleece the prisoners, has been confirmed. The arrested rich people are pressed into “plea deals” in which they give up their assets in exchange for better treatment and some restricted kind of freedom. The aim is to “recover” up to $800 billion in so called “corruption” money. Thousands of domestic and international accounts have been blocked by the central bank of Saudi Arabia. They will eventually be confiscated. But Saudi billionaires have long been looking for ways to park their money outside of the country. The accounts which were blocked are likely small change compared to their total holdings in this or that tax haven. Historically the recoveries of such assets is problematic:

Asset recovery programs never really go quite to plan. They are beset by obstacles — most often in the form of wealth squirreled away offshore and political infighting over wealth seized onshore.

Most likely, Saudi Arabia will obtain a sliver of these assets — say in the tens of billions of dollars — a useful, but temporary, gain. What happens after that depends on how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman re-sets relations with business.

The financial success of the MbS raids will be small. The financial damage he causes with his jihad against his own family members will be significant. It ruins his plans for attracting foreign investment:

“Half my Rolodex is in the Ritz right now. And they want me to invest there now? No way,” said one senior investor. “The wall of money that was going to deploy into the kingdom is falling apart.”

One can not steal money from some people and then expect other people to trust assurances that such could never happen to them. MbS’s big plans for Neom, a $500 billion artificial city financed by foreign investors, will fall apart.

To accuse princes and high officials of “corruption” is a fancy excuse. “Corruption” is how business is done in Saudi Arabia. It is tightly connected to the traditional ruling system. The king and his son are trying to change both:

Foreign investors tend to enter the Saudi market via partnerships with established business franchises or princes as they seek to exploit their domestic clout to navigate a complicated bureaucratic landscape.

The same goes for any state tender. To contract for building a road or public housing a company will have to find a prince or high official with the necessary clout. To get a tender signed it will have to promise, or pay upfront, a share of the expected profits. When the job is finishes it will need to come back to its protector to get its bill paid. No money will flow for the delivered work unless another bribe is handed over. Contracts are calculated with 40% on top to compensate for these necessary lubricants.

The systems works. The Saudi State has enough money to compensate for such distribution. The system is only problematic when a contractor delivers shoddy work, but can still bribe his patron into accepting it. Drainage man-hole covers in Saudi streets without the necessary drainage tunnels below them are a well known and despised phenomenon.

Rafic Hariri, the father of the Lebanese premier minister Saad Hariri, built a construction empire in Saudi Arabia by paying the right people. He knew how to work within the  system. He was also a capable manager who ran his business, Saudi Oger, well. He was also the Saudis man in Lebanon and did his best to fulfill that role.

His son Saad never got a grip on the business site. By 2012, seven years after Rafic Hariri had been assassinated, the family business in Saudi Arabia ran into trouble:

Almost a year ago, the Saudis began keeping an eye on Hariri’s company, which reeked of corruption. Several high-ranking officials – some close to Saad Hariri – were accused of theft and extortion. But Hariri could not find a solution to the crisis, nor was he able to restore the confidence that the company lost in the market.

So he began a major pruning operation, laying off lower-level employees without any indication of objections to their job performance. The dismissals did not even spare Saudi nationals, leading to widespread dissent.

The Saudis once treated the company with care, providing it with contracts in the region’s biggest oil economy. Now, the company is suffering from internal disputes and theft. It became closer to a scrapyard for the Kingdom.

Saad Hariri had the wrong contacts, bribed the wrong people and delivered shoddy work which made his company an easy target. He also failed to be a reliable Saudi asset in Lebanon. There the Shia Hizbullah gained in standing while the Sunnis, led by Hariri, lost political ground.

The Hariri company took up large loans to finance its giant construction projects for the Saudi government. But by 2014 oil prices had fallen and the Kingdom simply stopped paying its bills. It is said to own $9 billion to the Hariri enterprises. Other Saudi constructions companies, like the Bin Laden group, also had troublesome times. But they were bailed out by the Saudi government with fresh loans and new contracts.

No new contracts were issued to Hariri. No new bank loans were available to him and his bills were not paid. The Saudis demanded control over Lebanon but Hariri could not deliver. In July, after 39 mostly successful years, Saudi Oger went out of business. The Hariri family is practically bankrupt.

Hariri’s two youngest children, 16 and 12 years old, are kept hostage in Saudi Arabia. After the recent trip to Paris his wife also returned to Riyadh. The French President Macron had intervened and Hariri was allowed to leave Saudi Arabia. But Macron failed (intentionally?) to free him from Saudi influence. Hariri’s financial means and his family are under control of the Saudi tyrant. He is not free in any of his political, business and personal decisions.

Hariri is pressed to now drive a political hardline against Hizbullah in Lebanon. He knows that this can not be successful but his mischievous Saudi minder, the Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer, does not understand this. His boss, MbS, believes that the whole world can and should be run the same way he wants to run his country.

Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker has long observed how business is done in Saudi Arabia. He had portrait the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. His recent observations at a nightly desert picnic explains how the wider al Saud family used to run the country:

It was almost midnight when the prince held a Majlis, a traditional Bedouin ceremony in which tribesmen come to pay their respects and ask for charity. A line of men in white robes and red-and-white Arab headdresses stretched into the darkness. One by one they approached, removing their sandals, bowing and handing him pieces of paper. Some recited poetry. The prince scribbled on each cover sheet and put the papers on a stack.

Saudi Arabia used to run on such patronage:

Saudi society is divided by tribe, region, sect, degree (or nature of religiosity), and class.Although these various groups are only rarely organized in formal structures outside of the state, many developed special connections with specific state bodies, turning the sprawling state apparatus into constituencies of sorts.

Middle East expert Steffen Hertog has aptly described how the Saudi state emerged in the oil era: leading princes carved out structures they could dominate; state institutions worked in silos and coordinated poorly; and networks of beneficiaries, contractors, and influence brokers populated various bureaucracies. The Saudi state expanded rapidly into an uncoordinated group of what Hertog goes so far as to call “fiefdoms.”

High up princes take care of lower ranking ones. Each has common folks, clans or whole tribes he is supposed to take care of. Obedience is bought by controlling the “social” spending that trickles down through this pyramid. The princes make their money by having their fingers in, or “taxing”, all kind of state businesses. It is this money that sponsors their luxurious life as well as the benefits they distribute to lower folks. This was never seen as corruption as it is understood in the west. For decades these tribute payments were simply owned to the princes. They had a birth-right to them.

MbS “corruption” ride is destroying that system without him having a replacement. Saudi Arabia has been run as a family business. Decisions in recent decades were taken by consensus. Every part of the family was allowed to have its cash generating fiefdom and patronage network. The rule of King Salman and his activist son are trying to change that. They want to concentrate all business and all decisions in one hand. But what will replace the old system?

Mohammad bin Salman’s view of the world is that of Louis XIV – “L’etat, c’est moi” – I am the state. In his own view MbS is not just a crown prince or the future king of the state of Saudi Arabia. He, and he alone, is Saudi Arabia. He is the state. He let this view known in an interviewwith the Economist in January 2016:

[W]e have clear programmes over the next five years. We announced some of them, and the rest we will announce in the near future. In addition to this, my debt-to-GDP is only 5%. So I have all points of strength, and I have the opportunities to increase our non-oil revenues in many sectors, and I have a global economic network.

As I remarked at that time:

The young dude not only thinks he owns the country, he actually thinks he is the country. He has debt-to-GDP, he has ten million jobs in reserve, he has all women of Saudi Arabia as productive factor and he has scary population growth.

Does the guy understand that such an attitude guarantees that he personally will be held responsible for everything that will inevitably go wrong with his country?

Saudi Arabia and its state apparatus have for decades been build on an informal but elaborate system of personal relations and patronage. MbS expects that he can take out one part of the system, the princes and businessmen, and the rest will follow from that. That he will be the one to control it all.

That is a doubtful endeavor. The ministries and local administrations are used to do their business under tutelage. Eliminating the leadership caste that controlled them will not turn them into corruption free technocracies. Seeing the exemplary punishments MbS hands out at the Ritz the bureaucracies will stop working. They will delay any decisions out of fear until they have the okay from the very top.

Ten-thousands of tribal and clan leaders are bound to and depend on the patronage system. The hundreds of people who sought audience with Alwaleed bin Talal at the desert picnic will turn whereto? Who will take up their issues with higher authorities? Who will provide them with hand outs and the “trickle down” money they depend on?

Another target of Mohammed bin Salman’s activities have been the religious authorities. Some critical sheiks have been incarcerated, others are held incommunicado. The Salman “revolution from the top” extends into their judiciary role:

Historically, Saudi leaders have propounded the view that the sharia is the country’s highest law and the overall legal system operates within its bounds.

the domination of the religious establishment in law is ending. The king and crown prince are clearly favoring (and fostering) religious figures who repudiate some long-standing official views.

Bin Salman is purging the religious establishment, the military, the competing members of the families, the business people and the bureaucracy. He wants to run the state on his own. He demands the right to review any decision in the legal, business and foreign policy realm. He has authority to punish people responsible for decisions he dislikes. Under his system any personal initiatives will become extinct.

The country is too big for one person to control. MbS can not take all decisions by himself. No large system can work like that. The people will soon become unhappy with his centralized and unresponsive control.

That centralization does not work well is already visible in his failing foreign policy. MbS wants to be seen as the indisputable “leader of the Islamic world”. His hate for everything Iran originates there. The Iranian system of a participatory and democratic Islamic state is a living alternative to the autocratic model he wants to implement in Saudi Arabia. The western model of a “liberal democracy” does not adapt well to the historic social models that are prevalent in the Middle East. But the Iranian system is genuine and fits the local culture. It is the sole competition he fears. It must be destroyed by any means.

But all his attempts to counter Iran (even where it was not involved) have been unsuccessful. Saudi interventions in Yemen, Qatar, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have been disastrous. Over the weekend the Arab League delivered the usual criticism of Iran but decided on nothing else. Half of the Arab League states, including the powerful Egypt, are not willing to follow the aggressive Saudi course. Mohammed bin Salman’s grand scheme of using Israel and the U.S. to fight Iran in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iran itself is unraveling.

The Saudi response to the competition of the Iranian system is a move towards more authoritarian rule. This is hoped to allow for more agile policies and responses. But the move breaks the traditional ruling system. It removes the sensible impediments to impulsive foreign policies. It creates the conditions for its very failure.

Daily Mail: MBS Rounded up American Mercenaries To Torture, Interrogate and Hang up Arrested Princes

 

Local Editor

23-11-2017 | 10:47

A Saudi source informed the Daily mail that “princes and billionaire businessmen arrested in a power grab earlier this month are being strung up by their feet and beaten by American private security contractors.”

 

MBS


The group of the country’s most powerful figures were arrested in a crackdown ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman three weeks ago as he ordered the detention of at least 11 fellow princes and hundreds of businessmen and government officials over claims of corruption.

DailyMail.com disclosed that the arrests have been followed by ‘interrogations’ which a source said were being carried out by ‘American mercenaries’ brought in to work for the 32-year-old crown prince, who is now the kingdom’s most powerful figure.

‘They are beating them, torturing them, slapping them and insulting them. They want to break them down,’ the source told DailyMail.com.

‘Blackwater’ has been named by DailyMail.com’s source as the firm involved, and the claim of its presence in Saudi Arabia has also been made on Arabic social media, and by Lebanon’s president.

The firm’s successor, Academi, strongly denies even being in Saudi Arabia and says it does not engage in torture, which it is illegal for any US citizen to commit anywhere in the world.

The Saudi crown prince, according to the source, has also confiscated more than $194 billion from the bank accounts and seized assets of those arrested.

The source said that in the febrile atmosphere in the kingdom, Prince Mohammed has bypassed the normal security forces in keeping the princes and other billionaires at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

“All the guards in charge are private security because MBS [Mohammed Bin Salman] doesn’t want Saudi officers there who have been saluting those detainees all their lives,’ said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

According to the source: “Outside the hotels where they are being detained you see the armored vehicles of the Saudi special forces. But inside, it’s a private security company.”

“They’ve transferred all the guys from Abu Dhabi. Now they are in charge of everything,” said the source.

The source said that Salman, often referred to by his initials MBS, is conducting some of the interrogations himself.

“When it’s something big he asks them questions,” the source said, noting that “he speaks to them very nicely in the interrogation, and then he leaves the room, and the mercenaries go in. The prisoners are slapped, insulted, hung up, and tortured.”The source says the crown prince is desperate to assert his authority through fear and wants to uncover an alleged network of foreign officials who have taken bribes from Saudi princes.

When asked if Academi workers were involved in any kind of violence during these interrogations, the spokesperson said: “No. Academi has no presence in KSA. We do not have interrogators, nor do we provide any interrogators, advisors or other similar services.”

They added: “Academi does not participate in interrogative services for any government or private customer. Academi has a zero tolerance policy for violence.

We operate legally, morally, ethically and in compliance with local and US laws.”
The name Blackwater, however, has previously surfaced in the Middle East in the wake of the round-up.

A high-profile Saudi twitter account, @ Ahdjadid, which posts what is said to be inside information, also claimed Salman has brought in at least 150 ‘Blackwater’ guards.

Saudi whistleblower Ahdjadid tweeted: ‘The first group of Blackwater mercenaries arrived in Saudi Arabia a week after the toppling of bin Nayef [Salman’s predecessor as crown prince].

“They were around 150 fighters. Bin Salman sent some of them to secure bin Nayef’s place of detention and the rest he used for his own protection.”

The abuse claims were also raised recently in an article in the New York Times.

A doctor at a hospital in Riyadh and a US official told the Times that as many as 17 detainees had needed medical treatment.

Among those arrested on allegations of corruption is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the Saudi King’s nephew who is worth more than $17bn according to Forbes, and owns stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup.

DailyMail.com’s source claims the crown prince lulled Alwaleed into a false sense of security, inviting him to a meeting at his Al Yamamah palace, then sent officers to arrest him the night before the meeting.

“Suddenly at 2.45am all his guards were disarmed, the royal guards of MBS storm in,” said the source.

“He’s dragged from his own bedroom in his pajamas, handcuffed, put in the back of an SUV, and interrogated like a criminal. They hung them upside down, just to send a message. They told them that we’ve made your charges public, the world knows that you’ve been arrested on these charges.”‘

After the arrests, a picture was given to DailyMail.com of the Saudi royals sleeping on thin mattresses in the ballroom of the five star Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.

Source: Dailymail, Edited by website team

The Saudi System and Why Its Change May Fail

The Saudi System and Why Its Change May Fail

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 21.11.2017

The Saudi System and Why Its Change May Fail

The Saudi clown prince Mohammad Bin Salman is an impulsive tyrant. But what accounts for the urge to purge the country of any potential competing power center Why does he run a such an activist foreign policy? The answer might be Iran. Not Iran the country, but Iran the system.

Since the U.S. war on Iraq the sclerotic Saudi Arabia continuously lost standing in its region. The Iranian model gained ground. A decade later the authoritarian Arab systems were challenged by the so called “Arab spring”. While the movements in the various countries -as far as their were genuine- have failed, they were a warning sign for things to come.

Saudi Arabia reacted to the challenges by moving away from a sedate, consensual run family business towards a centrally controlled, supercharged tyranny. The move allows for more flexible and faster reactions to any future challenge. But it also increases the chance of making mistakes. To understand why this endeavor is likely to fail one needs look at the traditional economic and social system that is the fabric of the country. The fate of the Hariri dynasty is an example for it.

Since Salman climbed the throne he has moved to eliminate all competition to his rule. The religious establishment was purged of any opposition. Its police arm was reigned in. First crown prince Murqrin was removed and then crown prince Nayef. They were replaced with Salman’s inexperienced son. Economic and military powers were concentrated in his hands. During the recent night of the long knives powerful family members and business people were detained. The Wall Street Journal reported of a second arrest wave. More higher ups have been incarcerated. This round includes senior military commanders and very wealthy business people.

As the prison for the arrested VIPs, the Ritz-Carlton hotel, is fully booked, the next door Mariott is now put to use. Qualified personal was hired to handle the prisoners:

As many as 17 people detained in the anti-corruption campaign have required medical treatment for abuse by their captors, according to a doctor from the nearest hospital and an American official tracking the situation.

The former Egyptian security chief, Habib el-Adli, said by one of his advisers and a former Egyptian interior minister to be advising Prince Mohammed, earned a reputation for brutality and torture under President Hosni Mubarak.

After the torture reports spread due to employees of local hospitals, a medical unit was established in the Ritz itself.

My assertion in earlier pieces, that one motive of the arrest wave was to fleece the prisoners, is confirmed. The arrested rich people are pressed into “plea deals” in which they give up their assets in exchange for better treatment and some restricted kind of freedom. The aim is to “recover” up to $800 billion in so called “corruption” money. Thousands of domestic and international accounts have been blocked by the central bank of Saudi Arabia. They will eventually be confiscated. But Saudi billionaires have long been looking for ways to park their money outside of the country. The accounts which were now blocked are likely small change compared to their total holdings in this or that tax haven. Historically the recoveries of such assets is problematic:

Asset recovery programs never really go quite to plan. They are beset by obstacles — most often in the form of wealth squirreled away offshore and political infighting over wealth seized onshore.

Most likely, Saudi Arabia will obtain a sliver of these assets — say in the tens of billions of dollars — a useful, but temporary, gain. What happens after that depends on how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman re-sets relations with business.

The financial success of the MbS raids will be insignificant. The financial damage he causes with his jihad against his own family members will be significant. It ruins his plans for attracting foreign investment:

“Half my Rolodex is in the Ritz right now. And they want me to invest there now? No way,” said one senior investor. “The wall of money that was going to deploy into the kingdom is falling apart.”

One can not steal money from some people and then expect other people to trust assurances that such could never happen to them. MbS’s big plans for Neom, a $500 billion artificial city financed by foreign investors, will fall apart.

To accuse princes and high officials of “corruption” is a fancy excuse. “Corruption” is how business is done in Saudi Arabia. It is tightly connected to the traditional ruling system. The king and his son are trying to change both:

Foreign investors tend to enter the Saudi market via partnerships with established business franchises or princes as they seek to exploit their domestic clout to navigate a complicated bureaucratic landscape.

The same goes for any state tender. To contract for building a road or public housing a company will have to find a prince or high official with the necessary clout. To get a tender signed it will have to promise, or pay upfront, a share of the expected profits. When the job is finishes it will need to come back to get its bill paid. No money will flow for the delivered work unless another bribe is paid. Contracts are calculated with 40% on top to compensate for these necessary lubricants.

The systems works. It becomes problematic when a contractor delivers shoddy work, but can still bribe his patron into accepting it. Drainage man-hole covers in Saudi streets, without the necessary drainage tunnels below them, are a well known and despised phenomenon.

Rafic Hariri, the father of the Lebanese premier minister Saad Hariri, built a construction empire in Saudi Arabia by paying the right people. He was also a capable manager who ran his business, Saudi Oger, well. He was also the Saudis man in Lebanon and did his best to fulfill that role.

His son Saad never got a grip on the business site. By 2012, seven years after Rafic Hariri had been assassinated, the family business in Saudi Arabia ran into trouble:

Almost a year ago, the Saudis began keeping an eye on Hariri’s company, which reeked of corruption. Several high-ranking officials – some close to Saad Hariri – were accused of theft and extortion. But Hariri could not find a solution to the crisis, nor was he able to restore the confidence that the company lost in the market.

So he began a major pruning operation, laying off lower-level employees without any indication of objections to their job performance. The dismissals did not even spare Saudi nationals, leading to widespread dissent.

The Saudis once treated the company with care, providing it with contracts in the region’s biggest oil economy. Now, the company is suffering from internal disputes and theft. It became closer to a scrapyard for the Kingdom.

Saad Hariri had the wrong contacts, bribed the wrong people and delivered shoddy work which made his company an easy target. He also failed to be a reliable Saudi asset in Lebanon. There the Shia Hizbullah gained in standing while the Sunnis, led by Hariri, lost political ground.

The Hariri company took up large loans to finance its giant construction projects for the Saudi government. But by 2014 oil prices had fallen and the Kingdom simply stopped paying its bills. It is said to own $9 billion to the Hariri enterprises. Other Saudi constructions companies, like the Bin Laden group, also had troublesome times. But they were bailed out by the Saudi government with fresh loans and new contracts.

No new contracts were issued to Hariri. No new bank loans were available to him and his bills were not paid. The Saudis demanded control over Lebanon but Hariri could not deliver. In July, after 39 mostly successful years, Saudi Oger went out of business. The Hariri family is practically bankrupt.

Hariri’s two youngest children, 16 and 12 years old, are kept hostage in Saudi Arabia. After the recent trip to Paris his wife also returned to Riyadh. The French President Macron had intervened and Hariri was allowed to leave Saudi Arabia. But Macron failed (intentionally?) to free him from Saudi influence. Hariri’s financial means and his family are under control of the Saudi tyrant. He is not free in any of his political, business and personal decisions.

Hariri is pressed to now drive a political hardline against Hizbullah in Lebanon. He knows that this can not be successful but his mischievous Saudi minder, the Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer, does not understand this. His boss, MbS, believes that the whole world can and should be run the same way he wants to run his country.

Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker has long observed how business is done in Saudi Arabia. He had portrait the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. His recent observations at a nightly desert picnic explains how the al Saud family used to run the country:

It was almost midnight when the prince held a Majlis, a traditional Bedouin ceremony in which tribesmen come to pay their respects and ask for charity. A line of men in white robes and red-and-white Arab headdresses stretched into the darkness. One by one they approached, removing their sandals, bowing and handing him pieces of paper. Some recited poetry. The prince scribbled on each cover sheet and put the papers on a stack.

Saudi Arabia used to run on patronage:

Saudi society is divided by tribe, region, sect, degree (or nature of religiosity), and class. Although these various groups are only rarely organized in formal structures outside of the state, many developed special connections with specific state bodies, turning the sprawling state apparatus into constituencies of sorts.

Middle East expert Steffen Hertog has aptly described how the Saudi state emerged in the oil era: leading princes carved out structures they could dominate; state institutions worked in silos and coordinated poorly; and networks of beneficiaries, contractors, and influence brokers populated various bureaucracies. The Saudi state expanded rapidly into an uncoordinated group of what Hertog goes so far as to call “fiefdoms.”

High up princes take care of lower ranking ones. Each has common folks, clans or whole tribes he is supposed to take care of. Obedience is bought by controlling the “social” spending that trickles down through this pyramid. The princes make their money by having their fingers in, or “taxing”, all kind of state businesses. It is this money that sponsors their luxurious life as well as the benefits they distribute. This was never seen as corruption as it is understood in the west. For decades these tribute payments were simply owned to the princes. They had a birth-right to them.

MbS “corruption” ride is destroying that system without him having a replacement. Saudi Arabia has been run as a family business. Decisions in recent decades were taken by consensus. Every part of the family was allowed to have its cash generating fiefdom and patronage network. The rule of King Salman and his activist son are trying to change that. They want to concentrate all business and all decisions in one hand.

Mohammad bin Salman’s view of the world is that of Louis XIV – “L’etat, c’est moi” – I am the state. In his own view MbS is not just a crown prince or the future king of the state of Saudi Arabia. He, and he alone, is Saudi Arabia. He is the state. He let this view known in an interview with the Economist in January 2016:

[W]e have clear programmes over the next five years. We announced some of them, and the rest we will announce in the near future. In addition to this, my debt-to-GDP is only 5%. So I have all points of strength, and I have the opportunities to increase our non-oil revenues in many sectors, and I have a global economic network.

As I remarked at that time:

The young dude not only thinks he owns the country, he actually thinks he is the country. He has debt-to-GDP, he has ten million jobs in reserve, he has all women of Saudi Arabia as productive factor and he has scary population growth.

Does the guy understand that such an attitude guarantees that he personally will be held responsible for everything that will inevitably go wrong with his country?

Saudi Arabia and its state apparatus have for decades been build on an informal but elaborate system of personal relations and patronage. MbS expects that he can take out one part of the system, the princes and businessmen, and the rest will follow from that. He will be the one to control it all.

That is a doubtful endeavor. The ministries and local administrations are used to do their business under tutelage. Eliminating the leadership caste that controlled them will not turn them into corruption free technocracies. Seeing the exemplary punishments MbS hands out at the Ritz the bureaucracies will stop working. They will delay any decisions out of fear until they have the okay from the very top.

Ten-thousands of tribal and clan leaders are bound to and depend on the patronage system. The hundreds of people who sought audience with Alwaleed bin Talal at the desert picnic will turn whereto? Who will take up their issues with higher authorities? Who will provide them with hand outs and the “trickle down” money they depend on?

Another target of Mohammed bin Salman’s activities have been the religious authorities. Some critical sheiks have been incarcerated, others are held incommunicado. The Salman “revolution from the top” extends into their judiciary role:

Historically, Saudi leaders have propounded the view that the sharia is the country’s highest law and the overall legal system operates within its bounds.

the domination of the religious establishment in law is ending. The king and crown prince are clearly favoring (and fostering) religious figures who repudiate some long-standing official views.

Bin Salman is purging the religious establishment, the military, the competing members of the families, the business people and the bureaucracy. He wants to run the state by his own. He demands the right to review any decision in the legal, business and foreign policy realm. He has authority to punish people responsible for decisions he dislikes. Under this concept any personal initiatives will become extinct.

The country is too big for one person to control. MbS can not take all decisions by himself. No large system can work like that. The people will soon become unhappy with his centralized and unresponsive control.

That is already visible in his failing foreign policy. MbS wants to be seen as the indisputable “leader of the Islamic world”. His hate for everything Iran originates there. The Iranian system of a participatory and democratic Islamic state is a living alternative to the autocratic model he wants to implement in Saudi Arabia. The western model of a “liberal democracy” does not adapt well to the historic social models that are prevalent in the Middle East. But the Iranian system is genuine and fits the local culture. It is the sole competition he fears. It must be destroyed by any means.

But all his attempts to counter Iran (even where it was not involved) have been unsuccessful. Saudi interventions in Yemen, Qatar, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have been disastrous. Over the weekend the Arab League delivered the usual criticism of Iran but decided on nothing else. Half of the Arab League states, including the powerful Egypt, are not willing to follow the aggressive Saudi course. Mohmmed bin Salman’s grant scheme of using Israel and the U.S. to fight Iran in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iran itself is unraveling.

The Saudi response to the competition of the Iranian system is a move towards more authoritarian rule. This is hoped to allow for more agile policies and responses. But the move breaks the traditional ruling system. It removes the sensible impediments to impulsive foreign policies. It creates the contitions for its very failure.

moonofalabama.org

Senior Saudi Figures Tortured, Beaten in Purge: David Hearst

Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman

November 12, 2017

Some senior figures detained in last Saturday’s purge in Saudi Arabia were beaten and tortured so badly during their arrest or subsequent interrogations that they required hospital treatment, Middle East Eye can reveal.

People inside the royal court also told MEE that the scale of the crackdown, which has brought new arrests each day, is much bigger than Saudi authorities have admitted, with more than 500 people detained and double that number questioned.

Members of the royal family, government ministers and business tycoons were caught up in the sudden wave of arrests orchestrated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, under the banner of an anti-corruption drive, David Hearst reported in a n article published by MEE on Sunday.

Some, but not all, of the top figures arrested were singled out for the most brutal treatment, suffering wounds to the body sustained by classic torture methods. There are no wounds to their faces, so they will show no physical signs of their ordeal when they next appear in public.

Some detainees were tortured to reveal details of their bank accounts. MEE however, says it is unable to report specific details about the abuse they suffered in order to protect the anonymity of its sources.

The purge, which follows an earlier roundup of Muslim clerics, writers, economists and public figures, is creating panic in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, particularly among those associated with the old regime of King Abdullah, who died in 2015, with power then passing to his half-brother, King Salman.

The report said that on Wednesday night, seven princes were released from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, where they had been held since Saturday. The top royals have been moved to the king’s palace, sources told MEE.

Among those arrested is Reem, the daughter of Al-Waleed bin Talal, the only woman to be targeted in the latest roundup, MEE added.

To prevent others from fleeing, MBS has ordered a freeze on private bank accounts. The number of account closures and those banned from travel is many times the number of people who have been arrested, sources in Riyadh told MEE.

No one expected a crackdown of this scale and against princes of such seniority in the House of Saud, which is why so many of those detained were caught red-handed and had no time to flee, according to the report.

The purge against other members of the royal family is unprecedented in the kingdom’s modern history. Family unity, which guaranteed the stability of the state since its foundation, has been shattered.

SourceMiddle East Eye

Mohammed Bin Salman Drains the Saudi Swamp

Global Research, November 11, 2017
Oriental Review 10 November 2017

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman just drained the Saudi swamp.

The future King has been much more successful in this endeavor that Trump due to the fundamental differences in political systems and leadership culture, which has seen him decisively neutralize a broad swath of pro-American challengers for the throne and their supportive conspirators under the pretext of an anti-corruption campaign. While the murky world of Saudi palace politics means that nothing can ever be known for certain, there’s reason to believe that elements of the country’s “deep state” – or in other words, its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies, which in this case are mixed in with its royal and economic elite – were poised to push back against his ambitious Vision 2030 socio-economic and religious reforms, as well as the Kingdom’s newfound Great Power partnerships with China and Russia that were forged under his influential stewardship.

Considering just how radically this changed the country’s power structure by making the Salman clan the most powerful branch of the House of Saud and bestowing his bloodline with unprecedented influence over the Wahhabi clerics, it’s not an exaggeration to refer to last weekend’s events as a royal coup, albeit one that was staged preemptively in order to counter an existing regime change plot against Mohammed Bin Salman. This proactive counter-coup has been met with loud applause from the country’s majority youthful population, approximately 70% of whom are under the age of 30 and have come to resent the rigid and religiously fundamentalist royals that their modernizing rock star-like Crown Prince just recently deposed. This means that they could be expected to flood into the streets to support him if his rule comes under threat just like Turkish President Erdogan’s did during the failed pro-American coup attempt in summer 2016.

That said, the greatest threat facing Mohammed Bin Salman right now isn’t a traditional Color Revolution in the sense of an externally guided liberal youth movement being formed for regime change purposes, but in older, more religiously conservative individuals being encouraged to violently oppose what they may have been made to think is an “apostate” leadership violating the basic tenets of the Kingdom’s traditional Wahhabi interpretation of Islam by allowing women to drive and earlier vowing to “return to moderate Islam” after “swiftly deal(ing) a blow to extremist ideologies”. Ironically, this same hateful Takfiri – or “infidel” – narrative was once wielded by the Saudis themselves to destabilize states abroad, but it might now be used against the country’s future leader in order to unseat him, though the consequence of this scenario succeeding would likely throw the Kingdom into civil war because of Saudi Arabia’s generational divide between liberal youth and conservative adults.

For now, however, Mohammed Bin Salman can likely rest easy knowing that the most pressing royal threats to his rule are now neutralized and some of their billions of dollars of estimated seized assets might be redirected to subsidizing the very costly Vision 2030 national reform program and its flagship NEOM future city project, but the Crown Prince still has to be careful to avoid getting bogged down in the Yemeni quagmire if he wants to retain the pivotal loyalty of the military during this crucial time.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Nov 10, 2017:

Audio Player

 Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.

Featured image is from the author.

Benjamin Netanyahu is «Israel’s» Donald Trump

David Rothkopf

 

His former top aides have said that he is unfit for office. He is surrounded by a swirl of scandal. His family is not helping matters, with crazy statements that are intended to be supportive but just make matters worse. He is dependent on the far right and is so politically vulnerable that he is making decisions that put his entire country at risk. He has targeted groups on the basis of religion and background, which could lead to great unrest. You look at his record and you start wondering if he is drawn to the extremists because he really is one.

US President Donald Trump and "Israeli" PM Benjamin Netnayahu

In any event, he has brought his country’s democracy to a moment of crisis – one that has profound international ramifications.

The “he” I am referring to is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “Israel’s” Donald Trump.

What makes matters worse for Netanyahu that he is smarter than Trump and he has infinitely more experience in government. Whereas President Trump is weakening America, Netanyahu, known as Bibi, has Israel hurtling toward an existential crisis, one largely due to the very Trumpian move to choose identity politics over decency and democracy.

Trump is beleaguered by the recent events in Charlottesville and his inflammatory reaction to them, the departure of his top aides in recent weeks, and the ticking crocodile of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, a noise that he, like Captain Hook, can’t seem to escape.

In “Israel”, Bibi has his own corruption scandal. His son this past week offered his view that leftists were more dangerous than neo-Nazis, a remark that probably made his father wish quietly to himself that he could trade his offspring for one of those smart, well-spoken Trump boys. Then again, Bibi himself recently said that the left in “Israel” had mounted an “obsessive witch hunt” against him in pursuit of what he characterized as a “coup.” In the same speech to members of his own Likud Party on Aug. 9, he also accused the “Israeli” media of trafficking in “fake news” in its efforts to bring him down.

“Israel” can afford Bibi far less right now than the United States can the unfit, out-of-control leader it has in Trump. The United States has more history to draw on and more resilient systems. “Israel”, for all its successes, is still an evolving idea in a hostile region. The country is dependent not on the strengths of democracy but on its selective application of it, in the suppression of its majority population in order to survive.

This week, one of the Trump administration’s most admired and effective appointees, negotiator Jason Greenblatt, went to the Middle East with one of its most controversial and least experienced, Jared Kushner, to discuss what White House sources have called a “path to substantive ‘Israeli’-Palestinian peace talks.”

Given the stereophonic political meltdowns Netanyahu and Trump are having at the moment and the very real prospects that their crises will get worse before they get better, this latest initiative was, as a former US ambassador to Israel recently suggested, “dead in the water” before they got started.

Matters are not helped by the fact that the other essential party to these talks, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is 82 years old and is himself very weak politically. Trump, Netanyahu, Greenblatt and Kushner knew the likelihood that this Middle East mission would fail is high. But that hardly matters. The trip was political theater, a manufactured bread-and-circuses distraction from current damning headlines and plummeting polling numbers that both governments desperately want and need.

Shockingly, echoing Trump, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the Jewish people took days to release a brief statement about the anti-Semitism in the streets of Charlottesville, and he said nothing about Trump’s effective defense of those anti-Semites. In other words, Bibi apparently cares more about his political survival [both he and Trump have underwater poll numbers] than he does about the well-being of the Jewish people he has taken it upon himself to “represent.” For the record, he sure doesn’t represent me.

The similarities are uncanny. But they are hardly an accident. The far right in “Israel” and in the United States have merged in their rhetoric, their tactics, their contempt for the core values of democracy, their inherent racism [both against Muslims, with Trump adding his contempt for black people and Mexicans for good measure], their love of walls, their hatred of Iran, their scandals and, more broadly, the growing sense that both are driven more by a desperation for self-preservation than by any sense of commitment to their national interests.

This week’s trip is evidence of what such a mind meld can produce. Rather than peace or progress, something new is arising in the history of cooperation between the United States and “Israel” – a mutual political defense pact that involves the transfer of short-range tropes, medium-range memes and weapons-grade hate against the populations that will soon be the majority in both countries, regardless of the worst efforts of these damaged leaders or their malignant, most-militant core supporters.

Source: WP, Edited by website team

26-08-2017 | 14:09

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