"Reforms" in Saudi Arabia? Or do they mean "reformed corruption" with a new oxymoron in our dictionaries?
M. bin Salman, the de facto king of Saudi Arabia - epitome of frightful incompetence.
Image source: Voltairenet dot org
Losing the 18-month oil war in the financial market, the ailing Saudi economy is in a wheelchair. Everyone in Saudi Arabia agrees that low oil prices are scary for the Kingdom's future which has never before been steeped in so much uncertainty. In less than two years oil prices have fallen from $125/barrel to $28.
To raise and stabilize the price of oil, Saudi Arabia also needs to work with Russia which is the biggest non-OPEC oil producer. Unless Russia agrees to cooperate and cut oil production which won’t come easily as the Russians are just as keen to safeguard their market share, it will be next to impossible for OPEC to work on a plan. Saudis are desperate with pipe-dreams of oil prices rising by end of 2016. They are only waiting for a nod from Russia. But whether or not Russia cooperates, it could take years for prices to stabilize and return to previous levels, if they ever do. The Saudi economy will almost certainly be affected far more than expected, giving plenty of reasons for discontent to grow and the gap between the rich and the middle-class to widen. According to ft.com "As the experiment plays out, the kingdom is burning through its reserves to maintain social spending. The country has turned to the debt markets .... War in Yemen, China’s economic slowdown and Iran’s re-emergence have also raised the political and economic stakes."
While the Saudis continue to act defiant that they can handle low oil prices, a string of austerity measures have been implemented at home for the first time in the Kingdom's history. Cost of electricity and water has climbed considerably. Construction of roads, malls, commercial buildings etc. has been strictly budgeted or stalled. Price of petrol has risen by 50%! Unbelievable but true. All of that is a far cry from the Saudi government's attractive benefits to its citizens, including no income tax, as a weapon to subdue them to servility through a culture of personal contentment and rejection of rebellion. Those good ol days are drifting away into history as money is fast disappearing. With deficit running into millions of dollars month after month, Saudi citizens will soon have to begin paying their taxes. The depth of economic turbulence is easier to gauge when CNN loses its optimism. Quoting the media: "While the world's attention is focused on Saudi Arabia's latest flare up with Iran, many Saudis are concerned about the "economic bomb" at home. The government is slashing a plethora of perks for its citizens."
The Kingdom is also reportedly exploring other avenues to lessen its dependency on oil, another sign of utter desperation. The latest story tells us that Saudi Arabia is working on a "transition" through "reforms."
But can there be reforms in "Saudi Arabia" until it returns to Arabia (or Hejaz) as the first indispensable step?
Furthermore, Saudi Aramco is supposedly the future "bridge" for this 'transition.' That makes the Saudi ambition somewhat comical. No secret that since more than seven decades that country has had an acute dependency problem on foreign workers and the United States in particular. Aramco itself originated from an American company based in California - Standard Oil of California or SOCAL. At present the Chairman of Aramco is full of fantasies on reforms, "shifting industrial growth and job creation to public sector." A typical setup where blueprints are enthusiastically prepared only for the paper to rot. It's unreal to expect that the so-called "desire for change" will effectively trounce decades of lethargy, corruption, despotism and debauchery stamped within the Kingdom. Even pro-Saudi analysts are doubtful at best.
And something amusing here: In the midst of this fiasco as the U.S. government appears clearly relieved if not joyous, it is also circulating 'jolly-up' daydreams and reveries via Money Morning etc. to comfort its stressed out Saudi ally that all wealthy countries will soon dump oil and replace it with a heavenly substitute! According to this utopian fable, some "genius" (not named) has invented a new kind of energy (not specified) from sand/rock particles that requires no drilling nor refining nor any other costly procedure and will provide energy to homes, offices, industries, automobiles and to just about every place under the sun at almost zero cost. So much for America's slipshod 'psychiatric services' to the tearful House of Saud.
Continue reading a bit more please ....
Continue reading a bit more please ....
In his latest piece, Thierry Meysan has unveiled some interesting facts dragging the Kingdom in a direction it has been too eager to avoid - the beginning of the end titled Towards the Collapse of Saudi Arabia. Here's a thought provoking excerpt summarizing the story.
"While the Saudi family enjoys the last few moments of its dictatorship, the decapitation of the leader of the opposition, Nimr al-Nimr, deprives half of the Saudi population of all hope.
Forced by his brothers to nominate Prince Mohamad ben Nayef as heir, King Salman quickly isolated him and restricted his powers to the advantage of his own son, Prince Mohammed ben Salman, whose reckless and brutal nature is not restrained by the family Council, which no longer meets. De facto, he and his father govern alone, as autocrats with no counter-power, in a country which has never elected a Parliament, and where political parties are forbidden. So we have seen Prince Mohammed ben Salman take over presidency of the Council for Economic Affairs and Development, force a new direction on the Ben Laden Group, and seize control of Aramco.
Prince Mohammed ben Salman advised his father to have Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr decapitated because he had dared to defy him. In other words, the state condemned to death and executed the leader of the opposition, whose only crime was to have formulated and repeated the slogan - "Despotism is illegitimate." On the international level, Prince Mohammed and his father, King Salman, are implementing policies based on those of the Bedouin tribes of the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is therefore the only state in the world which is the property of a single man, governed by this autocrat and his son, who refuse any form of ideological debate, who will not tolerate any form of opposition, and who accept only tribal serfdom.
Prince Mohammed took it upon himself to launch the war against Yemen on the pretext of helping President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had been overthrown by an alliance between the al-Houthi movement and the army of ex-President Ali Abdallah Saleh. In reality, the war was waged in order to seize the oil fields and exploit them with Israël. Predictably, the war went wrong, and the insurgents launched incursions inside Saudi Arabia, where the army fled, abandoning its equipment.
The fall of the House of Saud may be provoked by a reduction in the price of oil. Incapable of reforming its life-style, the kingdom is borrowing hand over fist, to the point that according to financial analysts, it will probably collapse within two years. The partial sale of Aramco may temporarily postpone its demise, but this will only be possible at the cost of a loss of autonomy.
The decapitation of Sheikh al-Nimr will have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The fall of Saudi Arabia is now inevitable because there is no hope left for the people who live there. The country will be plunged into a mixture of tribal revolts and social revolutions which will be far more murderous than the previous Middle-Eastern conflicts.
This is how Sheikh al-Nimr described the life of the Shiites in Saudi Arabia – 'From the moment you are born, you are surrounded by fear, intimidation, persecution and abuse. We are born into an atmosphere of intimidation. We are even afraid of the walls. Who among us is not familiar with the intimidation and injustice to which we have been subjected in this country ? I am 55 years old, more than half a century. From the day I was born until today, I have never felt safe in this country. You are always being accused of something. You are always under threat. The Director of State Security admitted as much to me. He told me when I was arrested – “All of you Shiites should be killed”. That’s their logic. ' "