03.08.2015 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Saudi Arabia: When the Rubicon is Crossed

090619135340Things that are happening in Saudi Arabia evoke memories of and prompt one to analyze once again the notorious map of the so-called New Middle East, produced by US Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters. At first glance, the new map seemed to be nothing more than some chimeras of a retired soldier. However, as is known, Mr. Peters has close ties with a number of influential funds and acts at the order of his patron, the Pentagon. And, as the famous saying goes, things do not happen without a reason in a sound kingdom, especially if the kingdom happens to be the US. If a New Middle East map was published, it should be construed as a straw in the wind for Arab rulers and a trial balloon putting to test international relations.

According to the map, the vast territory of Saudi Arabia would be split into several new states. For example, in accordance with Washington plans, an “Islamic Holy State,” which would include the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, is to be formed on the coast of the Red Sea. Actually, the political landscape envisioned by Mr. Peters is not something completely new because for several centuries this area had housed Hijaz, whose rulers were considered the Sharifs of Mecca. Before hundreds of thousands and now tens of millions of pilgrims come to the holy cities, boosting enormous profits of those at the helm of power. In early days, it was the Hashemite clan, later—representatives of the Saudi dynasty, in the future, it could happen that a representative of the House of Hashemite would make its return to reign in the Islamic Holy State.

According to the plans of strategists from Washington, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—the largest and wealthiest state on the Arabian Peninsula—is to turn into a set of “Inner independent territories of Saudi” with significantly reduced areas. Only a narrow corridor would lead to the Red Sea coast since the major part would be occupied by the expanded territory of Jordan, the Islamic Holy State and Yemen, whose territory would include a part of the then former Saudi Arabia. The coast of the Persian Gulf abundant in “black gold” would be annexed to the “Arab Shiite state.” The other part of the coastal line of the Arabian Peninsula would be occupied by Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and Sultanate Oman, which would, according to the plans, retain their current boundaries and the system of governance with a king, emir, sheikh or sultan heading the state.

If the new map of the Middle East is reviewed in the context of the latest developments in Saudi Arabia, it will appear that the events are verging down to a climax, which will be finalized with the dismemberment of Saudi Arabia and formation of new US-friendly states acting in line with Americans interests. Today, as never before in its history, Riyadh is faced with internal and external challenges of such difficulty that the time of the breakup of the once rich and powerful kingdom depends solely on the actions of its rulers. The situation in which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has found itself is proving to be so complicated and confusing that it seems that even the members of the ruling dynasty do not quite understand how to handle it. Apparently, this is where their ambivalence stems from: they lean toward Turkey, then make moves toward Egypt, Pakistan or Senegal in a search for a possible ally. Diplomatic hysteria of Saudis, swinging from one extreme to another, inviting to form coalitions and promising money even to their uncompromising opponents, including Russia, can be clearly understood.

The challenges that Saudi Arabian rulers are faced with are complex and keep piling. Although the first threat does not seem to be too severe, in certain circumstances it might prove to be. The first threat refers here to the further spread of influence of the militant group “Islamic State.” Even though on the one hand this challenge can be categorized as external (several times militants brought the Saudi border line under fire acting from the Iraqi territory), on the other—more and more Saudi citizens are being contaminated by the extremist ideology. Branches of the Islamic State have already been formed in the territory of the Kingdom. However, it is likely that they had existed in Saudi Arabia before under the disguise of radical groups and now announced their accession to the Islamic State. Things came to the point when radicals committed two major acts of terrorism: something this country has not witnessed for a long time. The main problem here is that it is impossible to predict what other place might be victimized by militants and how to ward the threat off in a situation when Saudi youth is growing more and more frustrated with the country’s leadership and the “black hole” of the Islamic State attracts young minds like a magnet.

A report on this topic has just arrived. It informs of the arrest of 431 suspected members of the Islamic State and thwarting of attacks targeting mosques, security agencies and a diplomatic mission. According to the statements made by the Saudi Ministry of Interior, an organization related to the Islamic State had been eradicated. The majority of detainees are citizens of Saudi Arabia. The Ministry has also stated that the liquidated organization had planned attacks on mosques and a massacre of security forces in the Eastern provinces in the course of six successive Fridays (which is major Muslim prayer day). The organizations had also planned an attack on an unnamed diplomatic mission, governmental institutions and establishments of security agencies in the province of Sharura. 

The second and so far the major threat to Riyadh is definitely the situation in Yemen. Here, Saudi authorities have nobody to blame, but themselves. Not having managed to gain serious political influence over its southern neighbor, Saudi leadership, supported by its overseas patrons, was not able to come up with a better remedy than to shell Yemeni cities, villages and settlements, causing casualties mostly among civilians. By doing so, they flamed the anti-Saudi sentiment even among those who had initially opposed the Ansar Allah insurgents. If Riyadh believed that it takes only the involvement of air forces to win the war in Yemen, it made a serious miscalculation. And, even if a land operation is finally launched, it will, most probably, bring no real results. The entire history of Yemen shows what it means to unleash a ground war on this country. In the end, Saudi authorities got into a very tricky situation: to leave would mean to lose everything they have achieved; to stay would mean to continue or even escalate military action, while having no clear vision of the possible outcome. Actually, the outcome is well known from the history—the dissolution of the Kingdom of Said Arabia will begin.

Finally, an unexpected strike from within the country, from its Najran province, is seen as the third threat. The strike itself was not as big a surprise as the place where it was inflicted. It is just that a threat was expected to come from the Shiite population of the eastern provinces. But in this instance, Riyadh was confronted by a movement capable of much more than just snatching a couple of victories and then dropping their pursuit. In reality, the matter is much more serious: the Ahrar al-Najran movement, which has earlier declared independence of its territories from the Saudi Arabia, will, most probably, coordinate its military actions with Yemeni insurgents. “A group of political activists representing the tribes inhibiting the Najran province, located in the southern part of Saudi Arabia on the border with Yemen, has formed a military and political opposition movement ‘Free Citizens of Najran.’ Its objective is to fight for independence from the ruling House of Saud,” reported Iranian news agency Fars. The tribes of Najran that joined the new movement declared independence of the province and announced that they will side with Yemeni troops in a struggle against the Saudi regime because they believe that Riyadh “has violated all treaties previously entered into with the tribes.” That means the combat operations have already spread to the territory of Saudi Arabia with all the consequences that come with it. “Ultimately, expansion of combat operations in Saudi Arabia is just a little ways away,” made a pointed remarked Iranian newspaper The Tehran Times, “which can trigger a ‘knock-on’ effect across the Arabian Peninsula.”

Based on the aforementioned facts, a conclusion can be drawn that the creation of Lt. Col. Peters (the map of the New Middle East) did not come to existence by accident. The policy of Washington in this region targets its destabilization, fueling of civil wars in Arab countries and incitement of hostility between Sunni, Shiites, Christians and adepts of other religions. Below are some facts confirming this statement: Libya, Syria and Iraq are on the verge of collapse; the situation in Afghanistan and Lebanon is such, that the central governments do not control all regions of the countries. Does it mean that the turn of Saudi Arabia has come?

Actually, the fact that American mass media started speaking of a trend toward the reduction or even a complete cessation of issue of excess volume of dollar bills, being a sort of promissory note (to maintain the policy of quantitative easing) is indicative. Based on that, some financiers have suggest that the US would not have to pay off its indebtedness in this case. That, in turn, changes the very nature of world currencies—the dollar and euro, which in reality appear to be nothing more than debt liabilities in a form of banknotes (banknotes are issued whenever an intention to borrow arises). Cessation of debenture issuance eliminates the need for the expansion of the volume of debt liabilities, issued by currency issuing entities to freeze the revenue of suppliers of physical goods. In this context, not only a large-scale write off of debt liabilities (mostly bonds) by the US, but an equivalent reduction of currency assets of the commodity exporters is expected. First of all, we are talking about writing off of approximately $800 bn of Saudi foreign currency assets invested in American and European securities. However, if Saudi Arabia is dismembered, the issue concerning Saudi assets held in the USA would resolve by itself.

Understanding that, Saudi Arabia has engaged in active investing of its revenue in tangible assets and in the formation of new assets. An unexpected and time-sensitive proposal to invest $10 bn in Russian economy submitted by Saudis is a vivid example of their new policy. But in this case, one can only agree with the opinion expressed by Iranian newspaper Iras, which wrote: “Saudis feel that they have been driven into a corner and that they can no longer trust the US; therefore, they are plying the Russian card. It seems, though, that the Kremlin has a clear vision that all this maneuvering is just a game that is unlikely to produce a sound result.”

Victor Mikhin, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.