Monday, March 7, 2011

End of the House of Saud, part 2

In quieter times we have commented on the forthcoming End of the House of Saud.  I cannot say I am stuned that there needs to be a follow up.  It is certainly heating up for the Saudis.
In addition to a possible potential “friendly” intervention in the island nation of Behran, the Saudi’s are expecting uprisings in their own country.
Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent, Saudis mobilise thousands of troops to quell growing revolt, The (U.K.) Independent, Saturday, 5 March 2011
Saudi Arabia was yesterday drafting up to 10,000 security personnel into its north-eastern Shia Muslim provinces, clogging the highways into Dammam and other cities with busloads of troops in fear of next week's "day of rage" by what is now called the "Hunayn Revolution".
Saudi Arabia's worst nightmare – the arrival of the new Arab awakening of rebellion and insurrection in the kingdom – is now casting its long shadow over the House of Saud. Provoked by the Shia majority uprising in the neighbouring Sunni-dominated island of Bahrain, where protesters are calling for the overthrow of the ruling al-Khalifa family, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is widely reported to have told the Bahraini authorities that if they do not crush their Shia revolt, his own forces will.
The opposition is expecting at least 20,000 Saudis to gather in Riyadh and in the Shia Muslim provinces of the north-east of the country in six days, to demand an end to corruption and, if necessary, the overthrow of the House of Saud. Saudi security forces have deployed troops and armed police across the Qatif area – where most of Saudi Arabia's Shia Muslims live – and yesterday would-be protesters circulated photographs of armoured vehicles and buses of the state-security police on a highway near the port city of Dammam.
An illustration of why the populace may be upset with the ruling family of Saudi Arabia is found in some recent details discovered within the Wikileaks documents and reported on by Reuters.  These were noted in our earlier piece, but this report (link-through has much more) gives many more details.

Simon Robinson, Special Report: U.S. cables detail Saudi royal welfare program, Reuters, February 28 2011.

The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Reuters, provide remarkable insight into how much the vast royal welfare program has cost the country -- not just financially but in terms of undermining social cohesion.
Besides the huge monthly stipends that every Saudi royal receives, the cables detail various money-making schemes some royals have used to finance their lavish lifestyles over the years. Among them: siphoning off money from "off-budget" programs controlled by senior princes, sponsoring expatriate workers who then pay a small monthly fee to their royal patron and, simply, "borrowing from the banks, and not paying them back."
As long ago as 1996, U.S. officials noted that such unrestrained behavior could fuel a backlash against the Saudi elite. In the assessment of the U.S. embassy in Riyadh in a cable from that year, "of the priority issues the country faces, getting a grip on royal family excesses is at the top."

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