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 2 - Who really crowned the prince?
Back in 2015, there were already concerns in international intelligence that an imminent power struggle in the Saudi royal family was brewing.
Notably, concern within some intelligence communities regarding the likely rise of MBS was so high that Germany’s intelligence agency BND publicly released a memo slamming MBS as a destabilizing influence who was responsible for the new Saudi “impulsive policy of intervention.” It went on to warn that MBS, then head of the Saudi Defense Ministry and an economic council aimed at overhauling the country’s oil-dependent economy, was seeking to dramatically concentrate power in his hands. Doing so, the memo warned, “harbours a latent risk that in seeking to establish himself in the line of succession in his father’s lifetime, he may overreach.” The memo was right of course, but it largely fell on deaf ears.
Then, last June, MBS made his move and deposed his predecessor Mohammed bin Nayef after hours of interrogation, threats and alleged torture, becoming the new crown prince in the process.
Bin Nayef – who has remained under house arrest for over two years — had been a close partner of the U.S. — particularly the CIA, which bestowed upon bin Nayef one of its most prestigious medals. As Federico Pieraccini recently noted at Strategic Culture, bin Nayef had long been the CIA’s “go-to man” in Saudi Arabia and had helped the CIA use the guise of “counterterrorism” to fund al Qaeda and other radical Wahhabi groups to wreak havoc on countries in the region, particularly Syria, that had become the targets of American empire.
Normally, the ouster of a Washington-allied Crown Prince close to the CIA would have dramatically shaken the Washington establishment. However, there was little public complaint from the American political elite over MBS’ dramatic rise to power. Instead, the U.S. clearly supported MBS’ new power, as demonstrated by the fact that President Donald Trump called MBS to “congratulate him on his recent elevation” the day he became Crown Prince, and the two subsequently pledged “close cooperation” in security and economics.
Some analysts have since speculated that the U.S. government had actually helped facilitate MBS’ palace coup given that, just a few months prior, MBS – not bin Nayef — had met with Trump in Washington.
Others have suggested that powerful Western financial interests were behind MBS’ rise, given that the king’s son had announced his willingness to sell Saudi state assets to the highest bidder in a January 2016 interview with the Rothschild-owned Economist a little more than six months before he became crown prince. The interview certainly made it clear to the international elite that MBS was willing to support neoliberal reforms that had been rejected by Saudi royals in the past.
Indeed, wrapped within his economic reform program known as “Vision 2030,” MBS offered the Western elite something they had long coveted but had never been able to obtain. He agreed to privatize Saudi-state-held assets, including the biggest cash-cow of them all – Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, Aramco.