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 4 - Trouble in neoliberal paradise

While it is impossible to know MBS’ exact reason for getting cold feet in his once-ambitious plans to privatize the kingdom, we can guess. Indeed, there is a reason that MBS’ elders in the Saudi Royal family have long rejected neoliberal reforms and the mass privatization of their economy.

A 2016 report from Foreign Policy succinctly states why past Saudi Royals have avoided “free-market reforms” as the older generations of the House of Saud “understand the fragility of a monarchy whose brittle pillars rest on the quiescence of conservative clerics and a merchant class hostile to the free-market reforms that will undercut their privileges.” However, far more Saudis than just the “merchant class” have grown accustomed to the largesse of the Saudi state, as the majority of Saudi citizens benefit from Saudi state spending in the form of fuel subsidies, loans, free land, and public-sector jobs, among other boons. Indeed, half of the entire Saudi population is currently on welfare — welfare that depends on the wealth of the Saudi state and its oil revenue — while two-thirds of Saudis work in the public sector.

Of course, sharing oil profits with robber barons — as would have been the case in the partial privatization of Saudi Aramco — would reduce the amount of money the Saudi government dedicates annually to welfare programs and public-sector jobs to a significant degree. Notably, Vision 2030 also included “austerity programs” as part of its implementation, including tax increases and a significant reduction in the fuel subsidies given to ordinary Saudis.

However, less than a week after a handful of those austerity measures were implemented earlier this year, the Saudi government quickly eased them by increasing state-job salaries and launching a new economic stimulus program, after a “very negative” public response.

Despite the government’s efforts to assuage the anger that austerity had caused, it was not enough and the outcry continued, forcing the Saudi government to fire the country’s water minister to absorb some of the outrage. The fierce public response seems to have given MBS his first real inkling that his “ambitious reforms” to privatize Saudi Arabia would not be so easy to implement, no matter how hard he had worked to crush dissent.

Another indication of why MBS backed out of privatization plans can be seen in what happened to other countries when their young princes, championed as “ambitious reformers,” had drunk the “McKinsey Kool-Aid.” As Salem Saif wrote at Jacobin, many of the Arab countries that had previously followed McKinsey-drafted plans for neoliberalization subsequently “became epicenters of the Arab Spring. Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Yemen — each was convulsed by demonstrations, often animated by economic grievances.

In contrast, Saudi Arabia, with its state-owned and state-managed assets, had remained largely immune to these economically-spurred uprisings throughout the Middle East.

However, earlier this year, MBS learned the hard way from the hostile reception to his privatization rollout that being the West’s neoliberal darling comes at a high price, one that could imperil not just his position as Crown Prince but the entire Saudi government.

Source, links:


[1] [2] [3] [5]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 3 - The corporate-backed institutions behind the rapid and artificial ideological transformation of the American society in favor of neoliberalism
In the US case I begin with a confidential memo sent by Lewis Powell to the US Chamber of Commerce in August 1971. Powell, about to be elevated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon, argued that criticism of and opposition to the US free enterprise system had gone too far and that ‘the time had come –– indeed it is long overdue –– for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshalled against those who would destroy it’. Powell argued that individual action was insufficient. ‘Strength’, he wrote, ‘lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and n…

Mystery solved: here's why the Western mainstream media suddenly 'discovered' the war in Yemen

globinfo freexchange
Why it took so long for the Western mainstream media to 'discover' the war in Yemen and the war crimes committed by the Saudi coalition in full co-operation with the US?
One might think that the humanitarian disaster there - caused also by the blockade of goods for the relief of the civilians - has become so obvious, condemned multiple times by the UN, that the media finally forced to speak about it.
In previous article we attempted to explain the 'unexplained phenomenon' and the fact that CNN surprisingly returned to the issue to openly condemn the US support to the Saudi coalition atrocities against civilians in Yemen.
Yet, despite that the Saudi regimes have been, traditionally, the best allies of the Western neocolonialists, this time, the US had serious reasons to overthrow the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). And, surprisingly enough, at the center of this underground conflict lies an attempt by the US to privatize Aramco, Saudi Arab…

CIA had an agent at a newspaper in every world capital at least since 1977

Joel Whitney is a co-founder of the magazine Guernica, a magazine of global arts and politics, and has written for many publications, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. His book Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World's Best Writers describes how the CIA contributed funds to numerous respected magazines during the Cold War, including the Paris Review, to subtly promote anti-communist views. In their conversation, Whitney tells Robert Scheer about the ties the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom had with literary magazines. He talks about the CIA's attempt during the Cold War to have at least one agent in every major news organization in order to get stories killed if they were too critical or get them to run if they were favorable to the agency. And they discuss the overstatement of the immediate risks and dangers of communist regimes during the Cold War, which, initially, led many people to support the Vietnam War.
globinfo freexchange
James Jesus Angleton wa…

Trump proves he is completely clueless on what's the real reason behind the mass layoffs epidemic in big businesses and how to deal with it

globinfo freexchange
Donald Trump's response to recent General Motors' decision to close plants and slash jobs, proves that he is completely clueless on what's the real reason behind the mass layoffs epidemic in US big businesses and how to deal with it.
The media circulated what Trump thinks to do about it, including threats against GM to impose auto tariffs, or, his most beloved action: penalties on foreign cars.
Yet, perhaps the most hilarious part in the whole story, is that one of the key frontline tools of the global neoliberal capital immediately published an 'in your face' article to make Trump realize that he is completely powerless too, against the forces of the markets. Here are some interesting parts:
... market forces are tough to beat, even if you’re president. Trump captured the White House thanks in large part to the story he told -- that he could reverse America’s industrial decline. He promised to bring back manufacturing and fossil-fuel j…

In 1961, US experts knew that the Soviets had only four ICBMs

globinfo freexchange
In a discussion with Paul Jay of the Real News, Daniel Ellsberg revealed that the US discovered - through a top-secret operation -that the USSR had only four(!) ICBMs back in 1961. This meant that the Soviets were very far from becoming a serious threat for the West. However, the false picture of the 'Soviet threat' remained powerful in order to permit the US to justify its frenzy nuclear armament race.
Ellsberg explains:
The estimate of 40 to 60 [Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles] - which was pretty much in 1962 at the time of the missile crisis based on a lot of satellite photography - was much lower than was estimated earlier, from ‘58, ‘59, ‘60.
The Air Force had a higher estimate. Even the CIA official estimate in 1961 was well over 100. The State Department estimated like 160. The Air Force was much higher than that. And in August of 1961, the then commander of Strategic Air Command, Thomas Power, believed that there were then 1000 Soviet ICBMs…

How the corporate elite started to eliminate the Left and the power of the US working class right after the end of WWII

globinfo freexchange
Richard Wolff brilliantly explains the economics behind the great US anti-leftist purge (McCarthyism) after 1945:
At the end of WWII - late 1940s into the 50s - something remarkable happened politically in the United States. And it was in many ways surprising. Suddenly, a group of people in the United States who had been celebrated as heroes, became instead - almost overnight – demons. From being leaders they became traitors.
Communists - members of the American Communist Party, Socialists - members of the two socialist parties at that time, and active leaders of the labor movement - the big organizing drives of the CIO in the 1930s and 40s, had brought millions of Americans who had never been in unions before, into the unions. They joined the unions because they thought it would be a safe way to make it through the Great Depression of the 1930s. At least safer than not being in a union.
And together, the Communists, the Socialists and the Unionists, really struggled …

Another US slow motion coup in Latin America: astonishing details on how the neoliberal-fascist complex destroyed Leftist leaders in Brazil and brought Jair Bolsonaro to power

globinfo freexchange
Greg Wilpert of the RealNews, spoke with Brian Mier, editor for the website Brasil Wire, about the recent developments after right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro won the presidential election in Brazil.
Mier revealed astonishing details on how the neoliberal-fascist complex in Brazil (fully backed by the US), undermined and destroyed the most popular leaders of the Workers' Party (PT), Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff and even Fernando Haddad, in order to bring Jair Bolsonaro to power.
The purpose of this slow motion coup was what has been always for the US empire, especially in Latin America: to secure and broaden the absolute domination of the US and the Western corporate monopolies and destroy any Leftist resistance against the neoliberal status quo.
As Mier explained:
On the eve of the Supreme Court decision - which ruled on whether Lula should be imprisoned or not, exceptionally, in a moment when his appeals were still going on, contrary to hundreds of other poli…

How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 4 - Neoliberalism's second big experiment after Chile: the financial coup by the banking mafia to take over New York
One line of response to the double crisis of capital accumulation and class power arose in the trenches of the urban struggles of the 1970s. The New York City fiscal crisis was an iconic case. Capitalist restructuring and deindustrialization had for several years been eroding the economic base of the city, and rapid suburbanization had left much of the central city impoverished. The result was explosive social unrest on the part of marginalized populations during the 1960s, defining what came to be known as ‘the urban crisis’ (similar problems emerged in many US cities).
The expansion of public employment and public provision –– facilitated in part by generous federal funding –– was seen as the solution. But, faced with fiscal difficulties, President Nixon simply declared the urban crisis over in the early 1…

Exploiting Khashoggi's assassination: the neoliberal predators hang over Saudi Arabia

globinfo freexchange
A month ago we gathered some information to explain the sudden 180 degrees hostile turn by the Western neoliberal status quo against the current Saudi regime.
We discovered that the US corporate dictatorship and the Wall Street mafia heavily invested on the rapid neoliberalization of the Saudi Arabian economy, with the privatization of the state-owned oil company Aramco at the heart of this plan. Suddenly, Mohammed bin Salman decided to step back from the deal.
It would be worth to note that Aramco was standing at the top of the global list of the largest oil and gas companies for 2017 with a revenue of 465.49 billion US dollars.
It seems that the neoliberal regime didn't abort its plans concerning Saudi Arabia and silently seeks to "replace" bin Salman with a more faithful puppet, exploiting, of course, the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.
Digging a little bit more, we found plenty of evidence in the Western mainstream media, in recent years, showing …

WikiLeaks lawyer warns US charges against Assange endanger press freedom worldwide

Exclusive from Democracy Now!
The Justice Department has inadvertently revealed that it has prepared an indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In an unusual development, language about the charges against Assange was copied and pasted into an unrelated court filing that was recently unsealed. In the document, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer wrote, “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.
The news broke on Thursday night just hours after The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department was planning to prosecute Assange. Assange has been living since 2012 in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has sought refuge and political asylum. It’s unclear what charges may be brought against Assange; the Justice Department has previously considered prosecuting him over his role in the release of hacked DNC emails during the 2016 pres…