Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Fulcrum Crumbles In Riyadh, Con't

I talked earlier this week about the precipitous events in Saudi Arabia over the weekend as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has locked down power in the kingdom by convincing his father, King Salman, to appoint him as head of an anti-corruption commission where he promptly took out dozens of his own family members in a coup.

Meanwhile, MBS is the man behind the Saudi military intervention in Yemen, which has now led to a larger humanitarian crisis than Syria by a factor of millions more displaced.  MBS is a religious and cultural moderate, but a massive military hawk and autocrat who sees himself as the benevolent leader that the Saudis must have to make it in a future without oil.  Saudi Arabia has already made moves on Qatar and Lebanon, blockading the former through a botched coup attempt and crushing the latter in a vice as that country's former PM resigned and fled to Riyadh over the weekend as well.

But MBS's true goal is to go after Iran, as this conflict is as old as the Shi'a/Sunni split is Islam. So far it's been a bloody proxy war.  But in the Trump era, that's turning into the distinct possibility of a more direct conflict.  Tuesday, Saudi Arabia upped the ante big time.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of an act of "direct military aggression" by supplying missiles to rebels in Yemen. 
This "may be considered an act of war", state media quoted the prince as telling UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a telephone conversation. 
On Saturday, a ballistic missile was intercepted near the Saudi capital. 
Iran denies arming the Houthi movement, which has fought a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's government since 2015. 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the prince's claim was "dangerous". 
Houthi-aligned media reported that the rebels had fired a Burkan H2 ballistic missile at King Khaled International Airport, which is 850km (530 miles) from the Yemeni border and 11km north-east of Riyadh. Saudi missile defences intercepted the missile in flight, but some fragments fell inside the airport area. 
Human Rights Watch said the launch of an indiscriminate missile at a predominantly civilian airport was an apparent war crime.

There's no doubt that both the Trump regime in Washington and the Netanyahu government in Israel, both rocked by domestic scandals, would want a welcome distraction backing the Saudis in a fight against Tehran.

Stay tuned.

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