A new Arab evil rises in Saudi Arabia to emulate the Syrian regime of Baschar al-Assad.
Over the last year or so, the world has become witness to its rise parading as the coming of a new messiah. Some of the most accomplished men and women in the world rode its tail believing investing in its ideas would help usher a new era of reform in the Arab world.
The spin, smoke and mirrors, and artful deception have, in recent months, through a series of flimflams, been utterly exposed. Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince and architect of his own greatness, exposed the realities of his rule once he established firmly the image he needed. A new Arab evil rises in Saudi Arabia to posture itself to survive, like a virus, for many years to come.
Tell Me a Good Story
MbS evil needed a good story. He concocted one when he permitted women to drive and by opening movie theaters both were taboo in this conservative society. In addition to promising to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in miraculous projects many thought to be off-the-wall. Think a Saudi sinless Las Vegas 33 times the size of New York City in the middle of the desert to attract tourists from around the world. Priced at the mere cost of $500 billions, but could easily climb to over a Trillion dollars. How many tourist would have to visit Saudi Arabia to add one trillion to Saudi GDP over time taking into consideration the diminishing returns of future value assessed today? No one volunteered this information, but 900 years seems about right.
With superficial reforms for the policy makers to gloat over, and a promise to spend billions for the capitalists to moan over, like a vampire MbS sank his teeth into our flesh. A new Arab evil rises in Saudi Arabia.
President Trump Loves a Killer
In the first place, Mohammad bin Salman A.K.A. MbS, needed grand scale support he received from the Trump Administration with the help of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. After the United States, MbS turned to Vladimir Putin who welcomed a rich Arab ruler walking in Assad’s shoes rather than the poor sod ruling Damascus. With both American and Russian support in his pockets wrapped with promises of big spending in both economies, MbS set out to fill his own treasure with funds he needed to anchor his evil for good.
Under the pretext of fighting corruption the Saudi masses swallowed hook, sinker, and line, MbS arrested some of the richest people in Saudi Arabia who stood against him. The list provided courtesy of Jared Kushner behind the CIA’s back. MbS then imprisoned them, tortured some of them, and stripped them of their wealth in a shakedown that reminds us more of a Godfather than a princely reformer. To celebrate his success, he bought a DaVinci painting for $450m he paid for with other people’s money. He leaked the purchase to cement his reputation as a big spender, which helped him even further to sell his byline.
On a side note, few of those arrested were known to be religious fanatics, which also helped send the right message to our intelligence community that he intends to eradicate extremism. No one, of course, questioned what happened to over $100 billions he collected from many successful and liberal Saudi billionaires to include the Prime Minister of Lebanon, a Lebanese with a Saudi citizenship.
Then, as the new Arab evil rises in Saudi Arabia, it began to make mistakes of gargantuan proportions thinking it is accountable to no one and as invincible as Queen Mary.
A New Arab Evil Rises in Saudi Arabia
First MbS locked up all dissent. He arrested and murdered many journalists, dissidents, and vocal detractors just as Assad of Syria does to his own people. This is what Amnesty International report published about the rule of MbS.
The authorities severely restricted freedoms of expression, association and assembly. Many human rights defenders and critics were detained and some were sentenced to lengthy prison terms after unfair trials. Several Shi’a activists were executed, and many more were sentenced to death following grossly unfair trials before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC). Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common. Despite limited reforms, women faced systemic discrimination in law and practice and were inadequately protected against sexual and other violence. The authorities used the death penalty extensively, carrying out scores of executions. The Saudi-led coalition continued to commit serious violations of international law in Yemen.
Before our eyes, a new Arab evil rises in Saudi Arabia we believed to be the next coming of a messiah.
Bullying the Country of Canada
Simultaneous to his oppressive, over-the-top tyrannical rule, MbS created a row with Canada when the country, in its course of advocating for human rights worldwide, stated its concerns over the arrest of Samar Badawi, a Saudi dissident. MbS responded harshly. He suspended diplomatic relations, and ordered some 3,500 Saudi students to abandon their studies and come home. In the middle of their semester term. That rash decision provided a glimpse of his mental state of mind. To call MbS irrational is pure injustice to an asylum on Shutter Island.
The international media, cautiously, called the incident bizarre. Had it not been for the accolades still ringing in our ears for his enlightened policies, the same media would have called him insane.
Murdering Jamal Khashoggi
Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back on October 2, 2018. . On that date, MbS assassination squad murdered Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist with a platform to speak freely about Mbs evil in the Washington Post. The Turkish authorities claimed to have an audio and a video of a the 15-member assassination squad killing then dismembering Khashoggi with a bone saw before loading his remains in a van that discreetly entered the garage of the Saudi Consulate home in Istanbul. MbS now became Mr Bone Saw. The international outrage over the incident uncovered MbS for the evil that he is. People around the world realized they have a psychopath on their hands.
As a result, Congress invoked the Magnitsky Act in reference to the murder of a Russian journalist by Vladimir Putin to hold Saudi Arabia accountable. Pioneers and captains of industry began distancing themselves from MbS. The wholesome image of a visionary and a reformer MbS carefully painted was unraveling faster than a bungee rope.
The CIA never Liked MbS
We believe the CIA, with a long presence in Saudi Arabia, has been advocating for Prince Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz, the youngest of the Sudeiri bothers whom MbS tossed aside, to become the next king. The rise of MbS did not sit well with the agency. We believe today it is actively, and behind-the-scenes, promoting an alternative scenario. Don’t be surprised if President Trump, to appease the tensions, ask King Salman to find an alternative Crown Prince. Someone with a similar liberal vision but with a compassionate heart. Someone who is able to diffuse tensions instead of compounding matters, yet carry on meaningful reforms. Reforms to truly help the country, not paint a false image of a sociopath ruler.
A Real Champion
Usually when evil rises, a counterweight develops to show human goodness. Often, it inspires people to see the world through a prism of optimism and hope. That counterweight is Jamal Khashoggi’s editor Karen Attiah at the Washington Post Global Opinions section. Jamal’s writings in the Washington post led to his murder by MbS.
Ms. Attiah has been a true champion of Jamal’s cause. Her courage and audacity in the face of evil MbS have been nothing short of miraculous. She is, in our book, the Muhammad Ali of editors fighting for honest and wholesome journalism. Ms. Attiah dances like a butterfly but stings like a bee.
We cannot but applaud Ms. Attiah’s courage. Do follow her on @KarenAttiah to admire her tireless work to see justice come to Jamal.