Trump’s game in Saudi Arabia

Mike Pompeo, the new CIA head, just flew to Riyadh to give a medal to Crown Prince bin Naif*.  While some conservatives regard this as a travesty (e.g., a "Not the Onion" commentary from Zero Hedge), I think this is meant to be an open signal to support the House of Saud, whose help is needed against the Iranians anyway and who support President El-Sisi against Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

It's not clear what the Saudis did in exchange, but they have been under the gun, fearing that Western media would expose their role in support of violent jihad.  So this looks as though the Saudis have done a lot to settle those debts.  It's not the kind of public gesture the CIA does a lot. 

The Saudis can shut down ISIS/AQ/Al Nusra, or whatever the worst gang of maniacs calls itself today.  They also have no problem with selected assassinations.  SecDef Mattis has a long record of talking about morality and immorality in warfare, and he does not like sadistic monsters.  I think the moral dimension of defensive war has been missing during the Obama years. 

These moves may signal both domestic and foreign agreements to calm things down.  The Saudis know that their control of OPEC is waning, since Trump is aggressively opening up domestic traditional and shale energy production (again, something Obama never would do).  But the Saudis need to make a "soft landing," which is not going to be easy.  So they have been talking peace with Israel, on the assumption that Israel can communicate with the U.S. – at least under Trump.

These are all calming moves in a very agitated international situation. I believe that Trump is going to move aggressively against Muslim Brotherhood infiltration, probably with Saudi backing.  The Saudis are ideologically aligned with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the M.B.s, but tactically, they could abandon them.  Violent jihad arose with OPEC, and now that OPEC is declining, it would be smart to convince the Saudis that the jig is up. 

We can see if there is a marked decrease in jihadist violence.  If not, then the hypothesis is wrong.

The possibility of public exposure of their role in 9/11 is still very real and can be used to ensure their good behavior.

This is Kremlinology, but it's falsifiable.  There are many dangerous enemies in the world, including George Soros domestically, and the intelligence agencies can torpedo a lot of stuff.  It is smart for Trump to calm things down and focus on the hard parts first. 

* corrected

Mike Pompeo, the new CIA head, just flew to Riyadh to give a medal to Crown Prince bin Naif*.  While some conservatives regard this as a travesty (e.g., a "Not the Onion" commentary from Zero Hedge), I think this is meant to be an open signal to support the House of Saud, whose help is needed against the Iranians anyway and who support President El-Sisi against Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

It's not clear what the Saudis did in exchange, but they have been under the gun, fearing that Western media would expose their role in support of violent jihad.  So this looks as though the Saudis have done a lot to settle those debts.  It's not the kind of public gesture the CIA does a lot. 

The Saudis can shut down ISIS/AQ/Al Nusra, or whatever the worst gang of maniacs calls itself today.  They also have no problem with selected assassinations.  SecDef Mattis has a long record of talking about morality and immorality in warfare, and he does not like sadistic monsters.  I think the moral dimension of defensive war has been missing during the Obama years. 

These moves may signal both domestic and foreign agreements to calm things down.  The Saudis know that their control of OPEC is waning, since Trump is aggressively opening up domestic traditional and shale energy production (again, something Obama never would do).  But the Saudis need to make a "soft landing," which is not going to be easy.  So they have been talking peace with Israel, on the assumption that Israel can communicate with the U.S. – at least under Trump.

These are all calming moves in a very agitated international situation. I believe that Trump is going to move aggressively against Muslim Brotherhood infiltration, probably with Saudi backing.  The Saudis are ideologically aligned with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the M.B.s, but tactically, they could abandon them.  Violent jihad arose with OPEC, and now that OPEC is declining, it would be smart to convince the Saudis that the jig is up. 

We can see if there is a marked decrease in jihadist violence.  If not, then the hypothesis is wrong.

The possibility of public exposure of their role in 9/11 is still very real and can be used to ensure their good behavior.

This is Kremlinology, but it's falsifiable.  There are many dangerous enemies in the world, including George Soros domestically, and the intelligence agencies can torpedo a lot of stuff.  It is smart for Trump to calm things down and focus on the hard parts first. 

* corrected