Source: Council on Foreign Relations
With a bold modernization project, Saudi Arabia is embarking on reforms U.S. policymakers have been urging for decades. The crown prince’s recent crackdown could undermine this crucial effort
On November 4, official media announced an order by King Salman for the arrest of some of the most powerful men in Saudi Arabia, including eleven princes. The decree came from a hastily created anticorruption agency headed by his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “Laws will be applied firmly on everyone who touched public money and didn’t protect it or embezzled it, or abused their power and influence,” the king’s order proclaimed. The corruption charges appear to be a pretext for the crown prince to displace his rivals, many of whom were close to the late King Abdullah or are concerned about his fast-paced reforms.
With the new arrests, particularly that of the head of the national guard, Mutaib bin Abdullah, the crown prince has assumed control over all the main security forces, including the military and those of the Interior Ministry, as well as the national guard. These positions had previously been allocated to princes from various branches of the al-Saud family to maintain a balance among descendants of the founder of the kingdom, Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman al-Saud.
Such a concentration of power is unwise. Saudi Arabia is entering a time of financial stress and simmering internal Islamist opposition, and its population is watching unfolding changes with anxiety. The ambitious modernization program launched by Mohammed is crucial, and palace intrigues may imperil such plans. As rapid changes bring dislocations, a more decentralized government led by an array of princes can best navigate the national course. READ MORE…
The internet and social media were once hailed for creating new opportunities to spread democracy and freedom. But authoritarian regimes soon began cracking down on internet freedom. They feared the brave new digital world, because it was beyond the reach of their analogue security establishments. Their fears proved unfounded. In the event, most social media-enabled popular uprisings failed for want of effective leadership, and traditional political and military organizations retained the upper hand. Technology does not stand still, and nor should democracy.read more
ISIS threat ‘is going to morph’ and possibly go underground in Iraq, says Maj.-Gen. Mike Rouleauread more
Government corruption provided Daesh and local militias with the umbrella they needed to seize power in Iraq, officials and lawmakers told Arab News on Thursday. They said Iraq’s security and political stability will remain threatened as long as corrupt officials continue to control the country’s assets. Iraq is high on the list of the most corrupt countries. The Iraqi Parliamentary Committee of Integrity told Arab News that the estimated value of “looted” amounts during the past 12 years has been more than $200 billion.read more
US companies are eager to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Iraq in all industrial sectors, especially in oil and gas, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said on Thursday after US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman met with Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi. Al-Luaibi invited US companies to take part in tenders called by the Iraqi ministry and said Iraq was preparing more favorable work conditions for foreign companies investing and doing business in Iraq, Oil Price reported. The two US supermajors, ExxonMobil and Chevron, already have operations in parts of Iraq. Exxon signed an agreement in 2010 with Iraq’s South Oil Company to redevelop and rehabilitate the West Qurna I Oilfield in southern Iraq.read more
Mr Al Abadi has faced internal pressures to postpone the elections for at least six months but is adamant they will go ahead. Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi has assured the nation that parliamentary and provincial elections will be held in Iraq in May as scheduled. Mr Al Abadi has faced internal pressures from the State of Law Coalition and the Union of Sunni forces in addition to Kurdish parties to postpone the elections for at least six months, Al Hayat, the pan-Arab newspaper reported. But in his weekly press conference, the prime minister dismissed any doubts, saying, “The cabinet today reiterated that provincial and parliamentary elections will be held on 12 May 2018.,” Mr Al Abadi said. “There is no reason for delaying the elections.”read more