Saudi Arabia seeks to assert itself

11 17 2017

Mohammed bin Salman, the future King of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is attempting to flex its muscle. Mohammed bin Salman has increased Saudi intervention in Yemen, with bombing strikes and air, land and sea blockades. He has tried to isolate Qatar, hoping to turn it into an obedient satellite state. He has apparently forced the Lebanese prime minister to resign, attempting to destabilize the Iranian backed Shiite-dominated government in Lebanon. All these are part of a struggle to fight back against Iran’s growing regional impact.

Of note internally is the fact that the Saudis have a large youth population – at least two-thirds of all citizens are under the age of 30. Unrest is mounting in this oil-rich country. Most of the unrest is coming from the young who see government corruption and religious extremism as holding back their future. The future king, Mohammed bin Salman, has been making unparalleled moves against the religious establishment as well as the royal family itself, including imposing social reforms (women can now drive), and ordering the arrests of dozens of princes and senior officials. And let’s not forget, the young future King certainly has enemies but as of yet they have not played their hand.

What we are seeing today is that Middle East Saudi stratagem is struggling. The war in Yemen has turned into a quagmire, creating a civil war on Saudi Arabia’s border (Yemen). Yemen (rebels there who are backed by Iran) is surging with fury against the Saudi Kingdom. Qatar refuses to give into Saudi Arabia—tensions are increasing between the two nations. And Lebanon could collapse into another vicious civil war. Don’t expect things to calm down soon.

Saudi Arabia has to spend a lot of money to keep up with its proxy war against Iran—its great enemy in the region. Remember Saudi Arabia is Sunni—Iran is Shiite. These nations do not fight each other directly but instead they wage expensive proxy conflicts throughout the region. When protests began in 2011 against the Iranian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Saudis used their oil wealth to back rebel groups that are anti-Iran. All of this costs money. The leadership in Iran believes Saudi Arabia will eventually collapse under the weight of its own internal power struggles, in the interim, the best thing Iran can do is engage Saudi Arabia in expensive and time-consuming proxy wars thus draining the Saudi treasury.

We must always keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is prophetically significant–We believe Saudi Arabia is home to the descendants of Ishmael: “He (Ishmael) will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”—Genesis 16:12. That description continues to play out in real time even today.

Saudi Arabia is a big player in the Middle East—we need to watch this nation and its internal challenges more closely.

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