In the wake of what looks like the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, it is worth spending some time to understand how and why the heir apparent to the Saudi throne, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), is moving at such speed to stamp out all opposition to the house of Saud.
This astonishingly well research piece suggests that there are three factors at play: (1) the Trump White House sees Iran as enemy #1 in the Middle East and is clearly focused on using Israel and Saudi Arabia to neutralise Iranian influence in the region; (2) Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has built a close relationship with MBS and has this might have emboldened MBS to take steps which previous Saudi monarchs would have hesitated to take; and (3) MBS himself comes across a entitled, ambitious and ruthless young man who from his teenage days learnt how to use power to scare the living daylights out of people.
If the New Yorker’s hypothesis plays out and America and Saudi Arabia manage to isolate Iran, sideline second rung states like Qatar and make MBS de facto boss of the Middle East, it is difficult to see oil prices falling significantly.
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