The World’s Most Dangerous Man
On June 19, Saudi Arabia reportedly captured three members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. A newsworthy story in its own right.
But what the Saudis allege the three were doing is much bigger news.
When captured, these three men were on-board one of three boats that were approaching the offshore Saudi oil field Marjan.1
They were not there for sightseeing.
The vessels (again this is according to the Saudis) were loaded to the brim with the types of materials that made the intent of the Iranians very clear…
They were on a mission to blow up significant Saudi oil infrastructure. Fortunately for the Saudis, their own patrolling vessels intercepted the covert mission, capturing one Iranian boat and chasing the other two away.
If the events depicted are true (the Iranians deny them), this was nothing short of an act of war in a region already on the precipice.
It was also an attempted attack on a country that is about to become a lot less predictable.
The Age Of Saudi Patience Is Over – Now In Charge Is A Man With A Short Fuse
The powder keg that is the Middle East is deteriorating every day. When this thing goes off, the oil markets will be in turmoil.
Recently, a big inflection point arrived in the region in the form of a man who many experts believe will be the match that ignites the fuse.
His name is Mohammed bin Salman and he has now officially for all intents and purposes assumed control of Saudi Arabia.
Source: Middle East Press
Mohammed bin Salman is a young Saudi man with some very bold ideas. Born in 1985, he is the son of King Salman, the current Saudi ruler.
In mid-June, King Salman surprised the world by firing the existing Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and replacing him with his 31 year old son.
Some observers called the move a “soft coup.”
The move puts the young Prince Mohammed in the position of second in the Saudi chain of command, and heir to the throne. But there is more to the story than that, because the 81 year old King Salman is reportedly suffering from dementia and is unable to function effectively for more than a couple of hours per day.
The reality is that Mohammed bin Salman is effectively already the ruler of Saudi Arabia — a major turning point in Middle Eastern history.
Bright, Bold and Belligerent – Plus Openly Hawkish On Iran
Mohammed bin Salman is assuming effective power at a critical junction for Saudi Arabia.
Relationships with Qatar and Iran have become extremely tense, and the country is stuck in an impossible to win war in Yemen.
The new Crown Prince has further made clear that his two primary desires for Saudi Arabia are to:
- Take the lead position in the Sunni Muslim Arab world that Egypt has given up since the 2011 Arab spring
- Meet head-on the growing threat of Shia Muslim Iran
We can expect that Mohammed bin Salman will no longer abide by the long-term Saudi policy of patience when dealing with this threats. The Qatar and Yemen ventures are proof of that. Here is what the Crown Prince has been quoted as saying about Iran:
“We are a primary target for the Iranian regime….we won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for them in Iran”2
Those seem like fighting words to me…
With the aggressive bin Salman on one side, and the long-time openly hostile Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the other, the talk has turned to the fact that an Iran vs Saudi full-scale war is inevitable.
This is extremely concerning considering that Saudi Arabia has a military spending budget that is larger than Russia’s and that Iran has more than 2.3 million active military personnel…3
Here’s Where It Gets Really Scary – When The U.S. And Russia Get Sucked In
President Trump’s first overseas trip was to the Middle East. While there, he spoke out against Iran and called for international isolation of the country.
Trump is also committed to ripping up the nuclear deal that President Obama signed with Iran two years ago, as he believes they are the leading support of global terrorism.
Oh, and did I mention that the U.S. just signed a deal to equip the Saudis with $110 billion of modern, state of the art weapons?
This puts the United States firmly behind Saudi Arabia. And you have to think that another nuclear country in the form of Israel would happily join in against Iran at the drop of that hat, too.
But Iran is hardly alone. It has a big bear standing in its corner.
For Russia the primary military objective in the Middle East is keeping Assad in power in Syria. For that to happen, it is essential that Syria has continued help from Russia.
If a growing Saudi/U.S./Israel threat to Iran emerges, it would have to draw Russia deeper into the mix as well on the other side.
As you know, the Russia-U.S. relationship is already strained.
Concerning yes, much more concerning when you realize that one 31 year old Saudi Crown Prince could push us a long way down this road all by himself.
It almost makes you wonder if $44 per barrel oil might look like quite a bargain at some point in the near future…
Keep looking through the windshield,
1SAUDI ARABIA CLAIMS TO ARREST IRANIAN MILITARY ELITES ‘ATTACKING’ OIL FIELDS, Newsweek, Tom O’Connor
1Dialogue With Iran Is Impossible, Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Says, NYT, Ben Hubbard
2The 25 most powerful militaries in the world, Business Insider, Skye Gould