German Intelligence Warns – Saudi Arabia to Play “Destabilizing Role” in the Middle East

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Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming a major destabilizing influence in the Arab world, German intelligence has warned. 

Internal power struggles and the desire to emerge as the leading Arab power threaten to make the key Western ally a source of instability, according to the BND intelligence service. 

“The current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy,” a BND memo widely distributed to the German press reads. 

Saudi Arabia has previously been accused of supplying arms and funding to jihadist groups fighting in Syria, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

– From the Telegraph article: Saudi Arabia ‘Destabilizing Arab World’, German Intelligence Warns

To understand the enormously dangerous wildcard that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia represents in modern geopolitics, you must understand what is going on behind the scenes.

While the Saudis were a shady monarchy well before King Abdullah passed away, the disaster that has succeeded him will make the prior rulers look like philosopher kings by comparison. Of course, this is always the risk when it comes to hereditary rule, you never know what kind of psychopath is lurking next in line. In the case of the Saudis, although the current King is Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the guy who really wields power, and who appears to be a ticking time bomb, is his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as “Reckless.”

As I noted in September’s post, Regime Change is Coming – Saudi Prince Calls for Coup to Remove King:

To better understand the situation, it’s key to have a sense of the dynamics currently in play. In January, there was a major transition in Saudi leadership, which resulted in Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as “Reckless,” taking on dramatically increased responsibilities. In fact, many are claiming that “Reckless” is actually running the country due to the King’s (his father) poor health.

If you’re caught up on your Game of Thrones, you know that this can end in only one of two ways. Either outcome will result in some sort of regime change.

Either the rebel prince succeeds in convincing enough people who matter to remove the King, or the King counters and drives the prince out. The former situation is far and away the best option for stability in the Middle East, and would likely allow the Saudi royal lineage to hold on to power for longer. If the second scenario unfolds, current leadership will crack down even harder on dissent and run the state further into the ground. This behavior will ultimately lead to an unpredictable and likely violent revolution, and if you think the Middle East is volatile now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Prince “Reckless” is the real wildcard here, and it appears German intelligence sees the writing on the wall. First, from the Wall Street Journal:

BERLIN—Germany’s foreign intelligence service warned about Saudi Arabia adopting a destabilizing role, in an unusual blunt criticism of the Gulf kingdom’s growing influence in the Arab world.

“The previous cautious diplomatic stance of older leading members of the royal family is being replaced by an impulsive policy of intervention,” the German Intelligence Service, known by its German acronym BND, said in a memo distributed to journalists.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also defense minister and second in line to the throne, are trying to make their names as “leaders of the Arab world,” the report said.

The criticism comes as Saudi Arabia—a close ally for the West in fighting terrorism and Islamic State militants—has adopted a more aggressive foreign policy since King Salman ascended to the throne in January. The policy shift was highlighted in Riyadh’s military operations against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

In its memo, the BND said Prince Mohammed risked “overly straining relations with befriended and, most of all, allied states” and other royal family members in his attempt to establish himself in the succession to the throne.

The Telegraph adds some additional color:

Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming a major destabilising influence in the Arab world, German intelligence has warned. 

Internal power struggles and the desire to emerge as the leading Arab power threaten to make the key Western ally a source of instability, according to the BND intelligence service. 

“The current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy,” a BND memo widely distributed to the German press reads. 

The memo focuses particularly on the role of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 30-year-old son of King Salman who was recently appointed deputy crown prince and defense minister. 

The concentration of so much power in Prince Mohammed’s hands “harbours a latent risk that in seeking to establish himself in the line of succession in his father’s lifetime, he may overreach,” the memo notes.

Analysts at the Royal Bank of Canada recenlty desrcribed the jockeying for position inside the extensive royal family as “Saudi Arabia’s Game of Thrones”. 

Saudi Arabia has previously been accused of supplying arms and funding to jihadist groups fighting in Syria, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Fasten your seatbelt.

For related articles, see:

Regime Change is Coming – Saudi Prince Calls for Coup to Remove King

New Saudi King Unveils Internal Power Shake-up in Desperate Pivot Toward Increased Authoritarianism

Welcome to America – Several Things to Ponder as the Saudi King Visits the White House

A Look Inside Saudi Arabia’s Elaborate U.S. Propaganda Machine

Saudi Arabia and ISIS – A Side by Side Comparison

Another New Low – Saudi Arabia Threatens to Sue Twitter Users Who Compare it to ISIS

Saudi Arabia Sentences Poet to Death for “Renouncing Islam”

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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