Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman flawlessly executed what can only be described as an anti-oligarchic Bolshevik “deep state” coup over the weekend in preemptively thwarting a pro-US royalist plot to unseat him in response to the socio-economic and religious reforms that he initiated as part of his ambitious Vision 2030 program, as well as his newfound game-changing Great Power partnerships with China and Russia.
He’s not just trying to preserve his own power in the ultimate Machiavellian “Game of Thrones” environment of Saudi royal politics, but to save Saudi Arabia from what would otherwise be its impending collapse with time if the old order of business is allowed to continue. The absurdly wealthy Kingdom has been bleeding billions of dollars due to the disastrous (and very expensive) War on Yemen that he unwisely commenced roughly two and a half years ago, and falling oil prices during that time have made it impossible for the country to recoup its massive expenses from this ongoing campaign.
Not only that, but Saudi Arabia ridiculously boasts over a million public sector employees and an uncomfortably high 12,5% unemployment rate in a country where 70% of the population is under the age of 30. In addition, the Kingdom’s macroeconomic riches are largely concentrated in the hands of the royal family, whereas the rest of the country mostly trudges onward in a state of semi-feudalism where wealth has never truly “trickled down” to them.
To make matters even worse, the Wahhabi extremists that Saudi Arabia has always exported from its own population and simultaneously cultivated abroad are already boomeranging back into the Kingdom with the imminent defeat of Daesh in the Mideast. On top of that, historic state suppression of the sizeable Shiite minority in the oil-rich Eastern Province and the relatively liberal cravings of the majority youthful population are setting Saudi Arabia up for future sectarian and generational clashes.
Riyadh arrogantly believed that it could throw money at all of its problems and continue to buy time in indefinitely staving off this impending domestic disaster, but this irresponsible policy was never sustainable in the first place, and the situation is clearly approaching the brink of a serious crisis in the coming years given how state expenses are dangerously running way above the budget’s resource-dependent replenishment rate.
None of the royals really seemed to care, however, since in typical oligarchic and globalist fashion, they don’t have any loyalty to their homeland and figured they could just easily relocate somewhere else if everything started to fall apart. The only influential member of the monarchy that does care is Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who cleverly muscled his way to the top of the Kingdom’s power structure in the span of just a few years by breaking all of the country’s previously sacred succession traditions.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Mohammed Bin Salman is a “radical” in every sense of the word since he’s not only poised to undertake the Bolshevik-like takeover of approximately $800 billion in oligarchic assets to fund his Vision 2030 public works projects, but he’s also totally smashed the previous power hierarchy in the Kingdom and is slated to soon set his sights on its infamous Wahhabi clerics as well. The Crown Prince is, relatively speaking, carrying out a rapid across-the-board “revolution” in modernizing his feudalist Kingdom in order to save it, and the key to understanding it all is to appreciate the grand strategy behind Vision 2030.
For the pressing economic-structural reasons described above, Saudi Arabia urgently needs to transition from its oil-dependent economy to a real-sector one, and the $130 billion in investments that it secured from China over the past year during two separate deal-signing ceremonies in April and August will go a long way to jumpstarting this initiative, but it’s still far from enough. That’s why Mohammed Bin Salman moved to purge his country’s “deep state” before it could act against him first, since he knew from the inside-out just how badly Saudi Arabia needed a comprehensive “regime reboot” otherwise the best-intended and most visionary plans were inevitably bound to fail because of the Kingdom’s cesspool of corruption.
Having “cleaned house” and holding onto power with the help of the military and internal security services who support his patriotic mission to save Saudi Arabia from itself, the Crown Prince must now take out or sideline the Wahhabi clerics who had shared power with the monarchy due to a pre-unification arrangement between the Houses of Saud and Wahhab. There’s no way that this influential bastion of Takfiri power will let the modernizing young ruler reverse society’s gender segregations and bestow more liberties to women without making a stand to oppose what they and their older generation supporters may have come to believe is a future “infidel” King.
The clerics don’t just hate what Mohammed Bin Salman has already done, but they also deeply despise what he wants to do, and that’s increase the participation of women in the workforce and therefore diminish their traditional role in the family, something which is almost as “haram” as one can get in Saudi Arabia. The Crown Prince knows that Vision 2030 won’t succeed so long as most women are kept cloistered in the home and out of work, and however reluctant some Saudis might be to recognize this, the objective economic fact is that their country’s women will have to eventually “modernize” in the Western sense if the Kingdom is to survive the coming decade, let alone this century.
Mohammed Bin Salman won the first “deep state” battle when he detained the oligarchs and confiscated their wealth on an anti-corruption pretext, but the war isn’t over so long as the Wahhabi clerics remain in positions of power and influence, though truth be told, he’s already jailed quite a few of them over the past couple of months in order to instill fear in their hearts and set an unforgettable example. Still, this might not be enough, and if this “deep state” faction isn’t put under control and effectively neutralized, then they’ll eventually agitate against him sooner than later.
This task is admittedly much easier said than done, since the legacy of the past 80 years has left an indelibly extremist mark on the country’s psyche, and even if Mohammed Bin Salman “drains the Wahhabi swamp”, his security forces are going to forever remain on the defensive in guarding against “lone wolf” and “sleeper cell” attacks, whether homegrown or inspired/boomeranged from abroad. In any case, if by some auspicious chance he can score a Herculean victory in this “deep state” war while still retaining the loyalty of the military, the Crown Prince will then have to begin the painful process of implementing “shock therapy” to structurally modernize Saudi Arabia’s socio-economic situation.
It’s not known at this point how fast he would move on the social front, but this aspect of his country is inevitably bound to change alongside the economic one that he’ll probably most directly focus on at first. As was mentioned, the Crown Prince’s planned incorporation of women into the country’s workforce can’t take place without their liberation from restrictive Wahhabi standards first, hence why he’s already begun to implement piecemeal but relatively (for his country) radical reforms such as allowing women to drive and permitting gender mixing in sports stadiums.
The next step will be to incentivize them to get jobs, most likely in the service and administrative sectors, and it’s here where his majority-youthful and comparatively more “liberal” base can help him by standing behind his moves and opposing the older “conservative” generation’s resistance to this unprecedented reform. Women always end up in the workforce whenever a feudal society transitions to capitalism, but the strict socio-religious traditions that have been pervasive in Saudi Arabia for centuries suggest that a generational-culture clash of some degree is inevitable, which again underscores the necessity of the military’s loyalty to him personally but also more importantly to the patriotic understanding of how Vision 2030 is so necessary for preserving the Kingdom’s future survival.
All told, Saudi Arabia isn’t just in the midst of a power-grabbing (counter-)coup, but in the throes of a modernizing “revolution” that’s only just begun to play out under the stewardship of the Stalinist-like “Red Prince” Mohammed Bin Salman. Despite not being an actual communist, this young royal is no less “revolutionary” in that he’s robbed his country’s oligarchs of billions in order to fund his expensive socio-economic programs for transitioning his feudal country towards a capitalist model, with all of the profound socio-religious implications that this entails.
Just like all revolutions, however, this one is bound to come across resistance from the endangered elite, their foreign patrons, and the masses under their “conservative” ideological spell, but economic and demographic facts are on the “Red Prince’s” side, though he is admittedly making a somewhat risky bet that the latter are “liberal” enough to both support him and accept the all-encompassing lifestyle changes that his “revolution” will inevitably result in.
It’s too early to know whether Mohammed Bin Salman will succeed, let alone if he’ll even live another day after de-facto expropriating the mind-boggling sum of at least $800 billion from some of the world’s most powerful oligarchs, but it’s becoming clear that the “Red Prince” is carrying out his “revolution” not just for the sake of pure power, but to patriotically save Saudi Arabia from itself and ensure its continued existence in the future.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.