My favorite pic of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, aka MBS, aka Prince Reckless. Tall and handsome, young yet poised and accomplished, intelligent and cunning. The perfect representative of a Kingdom of 70% youth.
I didn’t start out as a fan. I thought he actually wanted to be another Ataturk! But that was just a headfake to win support from DC lobbyists. One thing MBS isnt doing is any return to “moderate islam”. In fact, there is an intensive KSA program to spread wahhabism in Indonesia, home to 202 million “moderate” muslims.
I do not think the joint US/Saud program to sanitize ahadith can possibly be successful– largely because of secular science and the internet, although there is also an islamic argument– but I will cover the n-gram (shannon) entropy of sacred texts in another post devoted to information theory.
MBS support of the rewriting ahadith program is consistent with throwing a sop to the Americans. A “return to moderate Islam” is not even on the table. Its something MBS used to get American support. From the Intercept article–
The move marks a moment of reckoning for Washington’s foreign policy establishment, which struck a bargain of sorts with Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, and Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the U.S. who has been MBS’s leading advocate in Washington. The unspoken arrangement was clear: The UAE and Saudi Arabia would pump millions into Washington’s political ecosystem while mouthing a belief in “reform,” and Washington would pretend to believe that they meant it. MBS has won praise for some policies, like an openness to reconsidering Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers.
The always excellent Dr. Davidson– from the Qatar rift— it is sheer brilliance how Trump was manipulated by MBS and amusing how Tillerson et al have to scurry to mend fences.
Trump pointedly chose Saudi Arabia for his first official overseas visit, on which he signed several big-ticket arms deals. And just hours after Riyadh severed relations with Doha, he tweeted that, when it comes to terrorism funding, “all reference was pointing to Qatar” and that “perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism”.But the White House was soon apprised of the full extent of the US’s military facilities in Qatar, including the difficult-to-move forward headquarters of US Central Command (CENTCOM), and the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, hurriedly attempted to strike a more conciliatory tone. For a moment, it seemed any immediate danger to Doha had subsided. Indeed, as recently reported, Trump had apparently given an emphatic “no” to any military action, preferring to leave the quarrelling Gulf states to their own devices.
But its too late. Trump has been more than happy to blowup any Obama legacy policy he could, and so has been wholly invested in the strategy to roll back Iranian influence, wreck the “concert” system of balance of power Obama was working on for the ME, and possibly withdraw from the Iran treaty.
The sheer genius of the MBS approach, to leave US and Israel with the Crown Prince as their only option, is breathtaking. A proto-sovereign sunni bloc…can that happen? A KSA independent of US yoke of servitude…an automous entity in MENA. Plus, an entity equipped with all latest mecha…mirable dictu.
I don’t think Prince Reckless wants to be Ataturk… I think he wants to be Saladdin.