Skip to main content

The real reason the knives are out for Mohammed bin Salman

In the six weeks before Khashoggi’s disappearance, MBS not only managed to anger the U.S. military-industrial complex but the world’s most powerful bankers.

by Whitney Webb

Part 3 - MBS – the “reformer” who wasn’t

Though the media has long spun Vision 2030 as MBS’ “ambitious” plan to wean the Saudi economy off its dependency on oil, the plan itself is actually a free-for-all for private interests and involves the neoliberalization of Saudi state-owned assets. Among its pillars are the opening of Saudi financial markets to Wall Street and the privatization of essentially everything in the Gulf Kingdom, including healthcare and, of course, Aramco.

The fact that Vision 2030 was essentially a neoliberal wish-list should not come as a big surprise, however, given that it was based off a 2015 report authored by the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the U.S.-based consulting firm McKinsey & Company — the “most prestigious” consulting firm in the world, known for its “neoliberal solutions to real-world problems”.

According to a report published last year in Foreign Policy, “McKinsey has cultivated a generation of young Arab princelings enamored with Western-style economic reforms, and with thoroughly mixed results.” However, this was especially true of Saudi Arabia, where MBS cultivated even closer ties with the firm and has relied on it, not just for the blueprint of Vision 2030 but also for choosing his new cabinet following his rise to the position of Crown Prince as well as a list of prominent Saudi dissidents who were later repressed.

In addition, McKinsey’s influence goes far beyond the firm itself, as its past employees or “alumni” go on to serve powerful positions in the corporate world or in government. Though the extent of McKinsey’s influence in helping MBS rise to become crown prince is unknown, it is certainly a possibility that the firm had used its influence to “grease the wheels” in order to give near-ultimate authority to one of these “young Arab princelings,” who would embrace neoliberal reforms that older generations would not.

Vision 2030 certainly seemed to win MBS the affection of the international elite across the board — and it seemed that the new Crown Prince enjoyed the limelight, at least for a while. However, it seems reality began to set in for MBS, and he has consequently spent the past several months looking for a way to indefinitely delay the plan’s implementation.

This first became clear earlier this year following speculation in July that the Saudi Aramco Initial Public Offering (IPO) — i.e., the beginning of the partial privatization of the Saudi state oil company through the selling of shares — may not materialize after all. Then, it was announced in late August that the entire IPO would be shelved. Bloomberg called this “the most significant reversal in Prince Mohammed’s plans” and added: “Rather than marking a watershed in one of the most ambitious economic projects in history, it [the shelving of the Aramco IPO] now highlights the unpredictability of the country under a young leader who has centralized political power in his own hands since becoming de facto ruler a little over a year ago.

As a result, what would have been the biggest IPO in history was called off overnight. The move was surely a disappointment to Trump, who had personally lobbied MBS to list Aramco on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), as doing so would have awarded the NYSE with the largest stock market listing ever. However, it was a much, much bigger disappointment for the behemoth financial institutions that had worked frantically to secure their roles in the deal — Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and CitiGroup, among others — as the shelving of the IPO meant that all their work on the deal would now go without compensation, as banks are typically only paid when such deals are finalized. In other words, MBS’ decision to put the IPO indefinitely on hold meant that the most powerful, politically-connected banks had essentially been forced to work for free.

It seems that MBS sensed the animosity he had caused in some of the world’s most powerful financial institutions, given that, just a few weeks later, he offered Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and CitiGroup a prominent role in Aramco’s new plans to buy a majority stake in the Saudi petrochemical company Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic). As part of that deal, Aramco has considered selling bonds in what could become the largest sale of corporate debt ever. However that Aramco-Sabic deal, valued at $70 billion, is still significantly less than the $100 billion that the Aramco IPO was set to generate.

More importantly, the deal shows that MBS got cold feet in his privatization plans, as having a state-owned company (Aramco) buy a majority stake in a private Saudi company (Sabic) is the complete opposite of what MBS had promised in the months prior to his rise to become Saudi crown prince. Indeed, as Bloomberg noted at the time: “The [Aramco] bond sale would give Saudi Arabia some of the financial payoff of an IPO, though without having to share ownership with international investors — or revealing information the kingdom would rather keep private.

Thus, it seems that it was the privatization of Aramco that had MBS spooked.

Far beyond the cancellation of the IPO itself — MBS has endangered other parts of the plan that these powerful financial interests had been counting on for well over a year. That includes Vision 2030’s plan to increase the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) — which is managed by a group of HSBC and Bank of America directors and a CitiGroup investment banking alumnus — from its current $230 billion in assets to a massive $2 trillion. The dramatic increase in the fund’s size would make the PIF the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. Without that injection of cash into the PIF from the Aramco IPO, media reports have warned of a “ripple effect” on the U.S. economy, including massive U.S. tech companies like Uber, given that the PIF has invested heavily in such companies.

Evidence has since emerged that MBS knows that these powerful banks are still angry despite his efforts to placate them. On October 5, just a few days after Khashoggi’s murder, MBS promised a new Aramco IPO within a few years, this time valued at $2 trillion. However, media reports on that announcement made it clear that Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup and the like weren’t convinced.

Indeed, with the entire privatization effort now in doubt, so too is the estimated $6 trillion in direct investments from powerful interests that had been planned to fund the privatization schemes that comprise the entirety of Vision 2030. That figure could certainly explain why so much pressure has been levied against MBS as of late over Khashoggi. Indeed, given that the Saudis had butchered another dissident writer in 1979 in their Lebanese consulate without the same outrage that has resulted from Khashoggi’s murder, it is safe to say that the establishment’s outrage over this latest extrajudicial killing is motivated less by “human rights” than by trillions of dollars of capital.

Source, links:


[1] [2] [4] [5]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trump's "brigades" are ready to start a civil war in case he loses November's election

globinfo freexchange
Signs show an extremely explosive situation now in the America of Donald Trump. 
Starting with the murder of George Floyd, we witness almost in daily basis some very disturbing incidents, which unveil a deeply divided society that was hiding for decades behind the "American dream" facade. As the facade now rapidly collapses, due to a major financial crisis and a pandemic, in less than fifteen years, the reality looks terrifying.
In a latest incident, Common Dreamsreported that members of a far right militia group were arrested Monday evening in Albuquerque after a standoff at a statue of a notoriously brutal conquistador in the New Mexico city turned violent with a demonstrator advocating for the removal of the monument shot and sent to the hospital.
As dusk fell, demonstrators began attempting to pull the monument down from its pedestal on the Albuquerque Museum grounds. At that point, members of the New Mexico Civil Guard militia group moved in, attack…

Evidence that Biden will start an AI-conducted war with Iran on behalf of the new Military-HighTech complex

globinfo freexchange

About two months ago, we mentioned Joe Biden's terrible response on whether he would lift sanctions on Iran due the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
As we wrote back then, Biden didn't even bother to defend one of the very few positive achievements that the Obama administration - during which he served as vice-president - left behind: the Iran nuclear deal.

Instead, he dropped all the assets he had in his arsenal that would help him attack Trump from the Left. And he did it, just only to make sure that he would not disturb the deep state apparatus with his response because the question was meant to test Biden's loyalty on the deep state agenda.

Connecting the dots, we found something even more terrifying. New evidence shows that key people around Biden and his potential cabinet in case he wins November's election, are deeply connected with the Military-HighTech complex. And that they will not hesitate to make Iran a test field for the first AI war i…

Ο Κούλης επιβεβαιώνει πλήρως ότι θα εφαρμόσει νέο, σκληρό μνημόνιο!

globinfo freexchange
Όπως είχαμε αναφέρει ήδη από το 2016 και αμέσως μετά την εκλογή Μητσοτάκη στην ηγεσία της ΝΔ, το αποτέλεσμα των εσωτερικών εκλογών στη γαλάζια παράταξη έλυνε τα χέρια του άξονα Βρυξελλών-Βερολίνου. Οι γραφειοφασίστες των Βρυξελλών και το διευθυντήριο του Βερολίνου απέκτησαν μια πρώτης τάξεως εφεδρεία σε περίπτωση που τα πράγματα "στράβωναν" με την κυβέρνηση Τσίπρα.  
Έτσι, ο νέος [τότε] αρχηγός της ΝΔ, Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης, αποτελεί την καλύτερη λύση προκειμένου να εφαρμόσει πιστά τις πιο σκληρές νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές προκειμένου να ολοκληρωθεί το πείραμα με κάθε λεπτομέρεια.
Ήρθε η ώρα να μας επαληθεύσει πλήρως ο ίδιος ο Μητσοτάκης. Όπως αναφέρει ρεπορτάζ του tvxs.gr:
Μνημόνια με τη μορφή κυβερνητικής πολιτικής είναι το οικονομικό σχέδιο του Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη, όπως προκύπτει από τη συνέντευξή του στους Financial Times, με αφορμή τη σύνοδο κορυφής της ΕΕ στις 17-18 Ιουλίου. Ο πρωθυπουργός μάλιστα θεωρεί ότι η πανδημία μπορεί να αποτελέσει…

Firm linked to HHS’ Robert Kadlec poised to become exclusive manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines

A pharmaceutical firm with a dark history and questionable ties to serving ASPR Robert Kadlec is poised to become the exclusive manufacturer of the COVID-19 vaccines now being funded through Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.
by Raul Diego 
Part 1
Trump’s much-ballyhooed “Operation Warp Speed” unveiled in May of this year to produce and deploy a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. is shaping up to be yet another scheme to funnel millions of dollars into a singularly corrupt pharmaceutical entity with deep ties to Robert Kadlec, the serving Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), who is in charge of the Strategic National Stockpile and is the architect of the legislative edifice which currently governs the nation’s public-private partnership (PPP) approach to health emergencies.
The task force’s latest and largest grant was awarded to Maryland-based Novavax, Inc. to cover late-stage testing and manufacturing of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Only the sixth company to receive fed…

Meet the far-right oligarchs working to topple Mexico’s progressive President AMLO

A Trump-like Mexican oligarch, Gilberto Lozano, is leading a coalition of corporate leaders and far-right fanatics called FRENA to try to overthrow President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
by José Guadalupe Argüello III and Ben Norton
Part 5 - FRENA’s June 13/14 car protest and future plans
In its second anti-AMLO protest, FRENA claimed to have 140 vehicle caravans across Mexico and the United States on the weekend of June 13 and 14.
Protests were reported in all major Mexican urban centers, along with major cities in Texas, California, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington, as well as Toronto, Canada.
As in the demonstrations in May, these featured many luxury cars and trucks, bearing signs with messages like “Leave now AMLO, we don’t want communism”.
Mexican Twitter was quick to point out the unintentional comedy of the protests, such as a viral photo of a banner on the back of an SUV that read, “No to Communism, No to Socialism, No to Mozimism, Mexico is Catholic”. Mozimismo is not a real…

What does community control of police look like?

The Grayzone
Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with Chicago-based activist and author Frank Chapman about his life story as well as his vision for community control over the police. 
Frank has been in the struggle for more than 50 years— beginning with his time as a young man serving a life sentence in Missouri state prison. While incarcerated, Chapman became a self-taught radical, eventually leading a successful fight to desegregate Missouri state prisons and cchieve his own freedom. Chapman shares his remarkable story his memoir, "The Damned Don't Cry, Pages From the Life of a Black Prisoner & Organizer".

Σκάνδαλο με υπογραφή Μητσοτάκη

Επιβεβαιώνονται οι υποψίες ότι τεράστια ποσά της καμπάνιας «Μένουμε Σπίτι» μοιράστηκαν στους «ημετέρους» και τους «υποστηρικτές» της κυβέρνησης.
Δημήτρης Ψαρράς
Μετά την πίεση των κομμάτων της αντιπολίτευσης και την επιμονή ελάχιστων μέσων ενημέρωσης, η κυβέρνηση υποχρεώθηκε να δώσει χθες στη δημοσιότητα τον πίνακα με τους αποδέκτες και τα ποσά που μοιράστηκαν στον καθένα από το κονδύλι των 20 εκατ. ευρώ της καμπάνιας «Μένουμε Σπίτι».
Η «Εφ.Συν.» από την πρώτη στιγμή στηλίτευσε τη σκανδαλώδη διαδικασία που ακολουθήθηκε, ενώ πριν από δυο βδομάδες (23.6.) προχώρησε και σε αίτηση προς τους δυο αρμόδιους υφυπουργούς, Πέτσα και Σκυλακάκη, σύμφωνα με το άρθρο 5 του Κώδικα Διοικητικής Δικονομίας, η οποία δεν μπορούσε να μείνει αναπάντητη.
Τελικά δίκιο είχε και έκρυβε τη λίστα η κυβέρνηση. Η δημοσιοποίηση των ποσών στον πίνακα των 1.232 μέσων ενημέρωσης που ανακοινώθηκε χθες αφήνει τον αναγνώστη άφωνο. Παρά το γεγονός ότι μεσολάβησε ένα μεγάλο διάστημα, κατά το οποίο είναι βέβαιο ότι έγιναν κά…

Trump used looted Venezuelan public money to build border wall with Mexico

An estimated $24 billion of Venezuelan public money has been looted, and the Trump administration has used at least $601 million of it to construct a militarized wall on the US-Mexico border.
by Ben Norton
Part 2 - Right-wing opposition upset Trump didn’t give Guaidó gang all stolen Venezuelan money
The Trump corruption scandal has been almost entirely ignored by mainstream corporate media outlets. Univision buried its own scoop deep in a report that advanced the talking points of Venezuela’s US-backed right-wing opposition and referred to the elected government of President Nicolás Maduro as a “widely repudiated regime.
Univision, the largest corporate media network in the United States that focuses on Latino issues, is owned by billionaire-controlled private equity firms, one of the most prominent of whom is the Israeli-American oligarch Haim Saban.
Based in Miami, the de facto capital of the Latin American right, this massive media conglomerate acts as a mouthpiece for conservative f…

The Washington Post and its Cold War drums

by Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post has taken its Cold War campaign against China, Russia, and Iran to a new level.  In the Sunday edition of its Outlook section, the Post gave front-page coverage to long articles by former ambassador Michael McFaul and former New York Times’ writer Tim Weiner to trumpet Russia’s “constant aggression” and its “brutal Cold War rules.”  There was no hint whatsoever of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to improve Russian-American relations over the past two decades, and no suggestion that the actions of the United States over the past 25 years have significantly contributed to the poor state of relations between Moscow and Washington.
The companion pieces have supportive titles, which suggests an editorial decision to express an authoritative point of view.  McFaul’s article is titled “Trump always finds a way to let Putin win….”, and Weiner’s screed follows with “….even when Russia plays by brutal Cold War rules.”  Their joint thesis is a sim…

Here we go again: neoliberal machine prepares ground to blame the Greens for a potential Biden defeat in November

globinfo freexchange

It seems that the neoliberal machine creates the suitable climate in order to put the blame on the usual scapegoats in case Joe Biden loses November's election.

Politico's recent article leaves little doubt. Check out the title:
Jill Stein cost Hillary dearly in 2016. Democrats are still writing off her successor.

And the first paragraphs confirm the case:

                         Jill Stein still haunts Hillary Clinton’s campaign team. “Oh woof. I can’t bear to talk about that,” said former communications director Jennifer Palmieri. For good reason: Had voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin cast their ballots for Clinton rather than the Green Party’s Stein, Clinton would be president. 

                         Now, with the Green Party set to elevate its presumptive nominee — Howie Hawkins, a longtime labor activist keen on attracting disillusioned Bernie Sanders voters and calling for a “#DemExit” — many Democrats are unfazed. Not to worry, they sa…