The German-language news source Spiegel ran coverage of the latest German foreign intelligence (BND) report stating that the House of Saud, the ruling family of Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly radicalized and seeking a more dominant economic and military role in the region.
This report should worry Western leaders, as Saudi Arabia is the only quasi-friendly ally in the Arab world that we’ve been able to consistently count on for support in the region.
The basis of this intelligence begins with the crowning of Salman bin Abdulaziz as the new king of Saudi Arabia in Jan 2015.
Salman has made small, but important political and economic steps within the kingdom to sidestep his nephew in the line of succession–and instead promoted his own son, Prince Mohammad, to defense minister.
In his role, Prince Mohammad has called for an increasingly aggressive stance of the kingdom.
In May, IVN reported on the Saudis’ plan to take delivery of off-the-shelf nuclear weapons from Pakistan. This, coupled with the unilateral military campaign in Yemen, have been clear signals of their growing military might.
Fifteen years of nation building and the Arab Spring have taught the Western powers the hazards of creating vacuums by taking down regimes.
The manipulation of the world’s oil markets has been the basis of their economic might–by suppressing the price of oil for a prolonged period, newer technologies such as shale and oil sand production no longer remain profitable.
But it is the long standing rivalry with Iran that is the most destabilizing and will likely start a regional arms race if Pakistani nuclear weapons are delivered to the Saudis.
The real question for America needs to be: How long are we going to militarily assist and politically coddle the House of Saud, all while ignoring their lust for power and socially reprehensible practices (such as beheading more people than ISIS on a regular basis for similar ‘crimes’)?
As the winds of war change, it’s looking more like they don’t ‘need’ us anymore. So why do we feel that we ‘need’ their cooperation and quasi-friendship in the region?
We need to think long and hard about a reasonable political path for our relationship with the House of Saud, because we cannot afford to be engaged in indefinite warfare in the Middle East.