Saudi Arabia Versus Iran; the Saudi Decision Process; Part 2

A third point of triangulation is the detention of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The visible reason is Hadi’s alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood. His motive is simple; in a situation where Hadi has to  lick the pot and scrape the pan for his own power pyramid, the Brotherhood is irresistibly attractive.  It is the Islamic analog to Masonry. The Brotherhood is suppressed in the Gulf with the same rationale of fear as formerly in the West of the Masons. But the Brotherhood is a very real threat. It’s like an instant cake batter of octopus tentacles.

Let’s skip the question of whether it is actually wise to transport the  official government of the country you are defending out of that country, into your own, and house them in a Hotel California (You can check out any time you like,But you can never leave!) Hadi is not an oligarch, but same description of sanction applies:

The designated individual was removed, suddenly, completely, and probably irreversibly,  from public life within the Saudi sphere of influence, even at the cost of creating an immediately unstable situation.

Should we trust Al Jazeera’s explanation, which involves the UAE, with which Qatar is in serious dispute? Quoting,

Hadi's weakening has gone hand-in-hand with the UAE's growing power in southern Yemen.

The Gulf nation has trained, financed and armed militias in Yemen that only answer to it, set up prisons, and created a security establishment parallel to Hadi's government.

Perhaps, with Hadi absent, it is a bit easier for the UAE to liquidate the Brotherhood in southern Yemen. But the explanation itself is not important to the question, which is about style and identity.  The sudden destruction of political legitimacy, perhaps without adequate consideration of the consequences, is common to all three events of the first bullet list.

The bullet list of Part 1 encompasses two elements of foreign policy, and one of total domestic reorganization. So the logic includes:

  • Common style, which seems to lack options of soft manipulation, and subtle, as opposed to overt, coercion.
  • Purview both foreign and domestic.
  • Power of decision almost without limit in both domains.

In the language of AI, the above is like a backward-chaining logic proof. You pick something that you think might be true, the hypothesis, and establish a chain of logic that leads to the presupposed conclusion. The hypothesis is that Prince Salman is the sole author.  While logic admits the existence of pure facts, our field does not. But the conclusion is the almost-fact that policy authorship, as well as executive power, is concentrated in the hands of Prince Salman.

You probably guessed close to this, but may wonder  if there are other authors as well. The logic suggests there are none who rise above  counsel and institutional expertise.

Through careful open source analysis, we now have an almost-fact about the power structure of Saudi Arabia. Most of us can’t help rooting for Prince Salman, hoping he has the virtue, intelligence, and wisdom equal to the titanic task of building a modern nation. Some of his potential opponents have been comfortably imprisoned  in the Tower, oops, the  Riyadh Ritz Carlton. They have friends on the outside, and in Scotland — sorry, Yemen. The danger they present is amplified by the (Al Jazeera) Houthi offer of political asylum.

If it seems ludicrous that a Saudi prince would switch sides, consider the case of former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh. A Western leaning kleptocrat, the Saudis forced his removal in favor of the more upright Mansour Hadi. Saleh then allied with the Houthis, who he formerly persecuted. There resulted, for a while, a working coalition between the predominantly Shiite Houthis and Saleh’s Sunni tribes.

The Houthi side is the Iran side. Nevertheless, there is just enough Sunni presence in the mix to make switching sides possible. To whom might this be attractive?

  • The man who had everything, and now has nothing.
  • The man who has something, but resents what he has lost.
  • The political or religious malcontent.

The choice can be rationalized as one of temporary expediency. Allies today, enemies tomorrow, such was the tribal ethos before the glaciation of geopolitics. This was true for Europe of the 19th century, and a good part of the 20th.

So what is Prince Salman going to do with the occupants of the Ritz Carlton? His decision style lacks  options of soft manipulation, and subtle, as opposed to overt, coercion.

If this was the U.K., he could, of course, say, Off with their heads!

But there’s no reason to lose ours. To be continued shortly.

 

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