Saudi Arabia Draining Their Own Swamp


The visiting Lebanese Prime Minister just had to resign when Bin Salman confronted him with evidence of financially backing terrorist organizations.

Saudi Arabia has frozen several thousand bank accounts, and is aggressively going after people funding ISIS, and even the Muslim Brotherhood.

I wrote Saudi Arabia off fifteen years ago. Really never thought they’d be anything other than a constant centralized source of terrorist funding. Cutting funding off is something I wouldn’t have expected. This is the first time I’ve ever seen positive progress come out of there.

I think Salman may well be of the same mind as Al-Sisi in Egypt.

Trump promised this back in June, but I didn’t pay it much mind. I figured it was the Saudi Royal family play both sides of the ball as usual.


I don’t get where “old guard” comes from, he was an outsider they (or at least some portion of the royal family) allowed to be the front man of their money.

He constantly criticized the Saudi Kingdom, just like his Father, so the picture painted is one of a useful irritant they tolerated.

He’s not even being charged with connections to terrorism, and he himself fired one of his senior employees for having connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Salman is interested in whatever can keep himself in power. His new city, Neom, is not being built for Saudis, but as a large expat enclave he can use to extract money from to keep the rest of the population sated, just like they’ve been doing with the oil revenue up till now.

Based upon Saudi track record for city building, I pretty much suspect that it won’t rise to become the megacity he needs, as there doesn’t seem much reason for one to exist there.


Yet three things happened:

  1. ISIS revived fears of what bankrolling takfiri Wahhabism could do.
  2. Their Cold War with Iran is turning hotter, mostly in Yemen, with missiles being fired off closer and closer to their cities.
  3. Oil revenues have collapsed (they’re running deficits bigger than we are), so they can’t stay in power the same way they have for the past 70 years.

ISIS ( and groups like them) combined with poor economic diversity has allowed the space for some figures to come forward in Saudi society and say “Y’know, maybe our culture sucks. Maybe those Jews, the infidels they are, got something right.

Perhaps; but Al-Sisi has yet to prove that his grip on power is more than just tenuous.


So what is your assessment of the Middle East right now?

It looks to have better future prospects to me right now than it has at any point since I’ve been old enough to pay attention(about 16 years ago). For the first time, I’m seeing signs of it moving in the right direction.


You have to take that on a country by country basis.

The most screwed over nation right now is Yemen, both because of the civil strife, and their idiotically high addiction to a drug-crop that absorbs something like 40% of their water, when they’re currently in a drought.

I predict that, eventually, the two sides will split up again; the South and North will become their own entities.

Egypt is likely destined to go through a cycle of coups, much like Turkey had for much of the 20th century. It’ll take at least a generation for the up-and-coming generation to shake away the runaway MIC-regime, and build something else, but what that something else will be is hard to say.

The Muslim brotherhood is now a known quantity, and they didn’t get their power in a fair contest, but they are still popular there, and are now building relationships with other camps to antagonize the regime.

Jordan will remain stable I think, as it is one of the few countries to give its people an affluent lifestyle it can maintain. Same to the UAE.

Iraq is doomed de facto, if not de jure, to be split up along sectarian lines. The post-ISIS Government either does not appear to be willing to fix the problems that drove the Sunni Tribes to supporting ISIS, or it is completely inept at doing so.

There may be skirmishes with Kurds along “traditional” lands of theirs.

Oman and Kuwait share the same problem as the Saudis, in that they need to pivot away from oil revenues to sustain themselves. Kuwait is perhaps the most screwed over in this regard, and yet it can’t act unilaterally to fix it, as its King shares power with an opaque legislature system. Coalitions will have to form to want change to occur there, but I’m not sure if that’s happening.

Socially they’re more advanced than much of the Middle East; Kuwait because it has an integrated Shia and Sunni population, Oman because something like 70% of its people follow a rare version of Islam that embraces plurality. They’re the last vestiges of a branch other Muslims think of as “evil” because they were in fact the first takfirists. How that turned to becoming a more tolerant school of thought, I have no idea.

Turkey will likely keep Qatar safe from the worst of the blowback, but over the years, I see their prosperity suffering because of their ostentatious moves to try and take over the region. They most likely won’t be poor, but they probably hit their zenith.

Bahrain might have a revolution in the next few years. It’s a Sunni minority ruling a Shia majority, and it’s a probable flash point between Iran and the rest of the region.

And then there’s Syria… God knows.


I agree on Iraq. Kurdistan is going to be a thing. And it will involve Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. It’s coming probably in the next 20 years. Maybe a lot sooner than that.

I think Al-Sisi has things pretty locked down in Egypt. The military is not going to let itself be deposed again. They took control back with a soft hand this last time. It won’t be so gentle if it has to act again.

Turkey is the one country headed in the wrong direction. Erdogan is running the country into stagnation, at the same time religious fundamentalism is being fostered. But Turkey is so much further along than most other Islamic countries, it will still be far more progressive than they are, even if it is headed in the wrong direction.

Iran is the one that interests me the most. Along with Egypt and Turkey, it’s the only other one that has ever been a great nation, with a people capable of rising to the ranks of global leader. I think Egyptians diluted their bloodline too much to ever rise to greatness again, so it’s more tradition than future looking. Turkey just seems to have lost its sense of national purpose. Iran is really the one positioned to the global leader of Islamic countries, but being Shiite that will hinder it.


I can’t agree: he hasn’t made good on any of the promises he made when he came to power, the military isn’t building inroads of trust with the public officials who actually runs things at all, and they aren’t giving room for their significant coup allies to grow and expand their own domains ( so they’re becoming critics).

He’s trying to run on Charisma he doesn’t have, and leveraging relationships he doesn’t do much at all to maintain.

And now the revenues from the Suez Canal expansion aren’t giving the results he said they would.

And in a move that surprised the hell out of me, he sold the Saudis two of the islands off their coast; when his entire messaging strategy to the public is hypernationalism. The very thing that would ask WTF?!? Y U GIVE THEM OUR LAND?!?

Even the Military’s Supreme Council, the very place Al-Sisi came from, has decided that it had to speak out and criticize him for this.

He’s losing legitimacy left and right. I don’t know if the military will go down with him, but he himself is fanning the flames to a fuse for a bomb that is going to explode.

The problem is that Iran is essentially a mini-Russia, with an even more dire demographic balance (and a similar birth-rate problem).

Persians are less than 50% of the population, and along with movements for Kurdish independence in the West, you have Baloch Independence in the East, and Azeri Independence in the North. They have a large military, not simply to antagonize the Arabs, but to keep all of these factitious groups under control.

Even without the Ayatollahs in power, it’s likely that they would (still) be lead by a regime of kleptocrats, who would be forcing the nation together.

They do have the culture to be more productive than they are; and much of the people living in the big cities are very secularized. But the very nature of their… “union” I think will always lead them towards some form of oligarchy.