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Saudi Arabia Upending Arab World

November 13, 2017
Plain English Version

Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia was the most conservative Arab nation. It restricted the freedom of its women. Only recently has it allowed females to drive.

It made peace with the religious Wahhabi zealots within the country. Many trace Islamic terrorism to Saudi Arabia. Most of the 9/11 World Trade Center attackers were Saudis.

But Saudi Arabia has oil. For many nations that was enough. Nowadays, oil is not enough.

Most Saudis are Sunni Muslims. They are enemies of Iran because most Iranians are Shia Muslims.

The two countries are preparing to do battle over who is the strongest power in the Middle East.

A big change just took place in Saudi Arabia.The change has alarmed the world. It has been traditional for a few royal Saudi families to consult on policy issues. Slow change was considered ideal. A young crown prince became the heir apparent to the House of Saud. Enter the 33-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. People know him as MbS. 

The first thing that MbS did was to arrest 200 friends, relatives, and business people. He charged them with corruption. They are detained in fancy hotels. But they are no longer in charge of Saudi politics and policies. The MbS goal was to consolidate his power. It shocked the world.

Many applauded his ascent. It may mean that Saudi Arabia will enter the 21st century. MbS is a modern person. He could bring democracy to the people. Most agree he will indeed be an agent of change.

The question worrying people is Iran. The first dramatic event was the resignation of Saad al-Hariri. He is the Prime Minister of Lebanon. He flew to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a visit. A day later he resigned his office blaming Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. Hezbollah is an army paid for by Iran.

Many claim that Hariri is being held against his will. He says it was his own choice and that he will return to Lebanon. From here on in everyone has questions and opinions.

One question is about the war in Yemen. Armies supported by Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting in Yemen for control of the country. The misery of the people is a worldwide concern.

Lebanon is the number one topic. Saudi Arabia pulled its citizens out of the country. Does it mean to go to war to rout Hezbollah out of the country? Not likely. Lebanon is on the Israeli border. Does it mean to goad Israel into war with Hezbollah? Why would Israel do that now?

No one knows for sure what is going on. The U.S. supports Saudi Arabia because it is against Iran.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Lebanon. Does MbS want to distract the world from what he is doing in Saudi Arabia? Does he want war with Iran? It is the Middle East, and no one knows for sure.

Source: The New York Times November 10, 2017

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