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Is A New Crisis Brewing In The Saudi Royal Family?

Is A New Crisis Brewing In The Saudi Royal Family? thumbnail

Major changes are never going without instability, conflict and possible crisis. Saudi Arabia’s dramatic change to diversify its economy away from an oil-based rentier state status is not going as smooth as expected.

The continuing delay of the Aramco IPO, the struggling gigaprojects commissioned by the sovereign wealth fund PIF, and changes to the social fabric, could be undermining the position of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Conservatives and religious extremists could be heading for a showdown, if the implementation of Saudi Vision 2030 is showing weaknesses. Internal royal opposition still exists, but until now MBS has been partly saved by the full-support of his father, King Salman. Looking at the situation on the ground, a showdown is looming… is another Ritz Carlton in the making?

International criticism on the ongoing dramatic changes inside of the Kingdom has been growing. Western media sources seem to have picked MBS as one of their main targets, as negative articles about the impact of Saudi Vision and the ongoing discussion on human rights or religious freedoms are following each other up on a regular basis. This criticism is for a large part unfounded, as changes to Saudi Arabia’s social fabric and the position of the Wahhabi conservative clerics should not be underestimated, especially when looking from a Western perspective. Bringing the Kingdom into the 21st Century will not go without internal instability, setbacks and possible hiccups.

Changing a patriarchal royal conservative social fabric, mainly supported by a rentier state with a redistribution based economic system, is hard and painful. MBS will have to cope with external and internal opposition, while dealing with economic and financial challenges. To change a society from within is a major challenge for any leader, but looking at the Saudi situation, this is only possible by making (short-term) enemies on all sides.

The last couple of days, several major newspapers have reported about another perceived struggle inside of the Royal Family. Reports from media-outlets, such as Al Jazeera, Al Khaleej or others, are stating that a power struggle is going on inside of the top-echelons of the House of Saud, or even inside of the Salman branch.

A rift is being reported between King Salman and his brother Prince Ahmad, the latter is reported to have criticized the way the kingdom is approaching the Yemen war. Media sources said that Prince Ahmad had directed his criticism at the King and the Crown Prince, which have been the main proponents of the Saudi-UAE military involvement in the Yemen War. Saudi media outlets have refuted these statements, claiming that the prince’s quotes were inaccurate. This situation is not life-threatening for the King Salman and MBS, but measures have been taken already to quell potential opposition from within.

These developments are not new. Internal opposition or dissatisfaction with the role and power of MBS, who is seen by several royals as too young, too inexperienced or too aggressive and emotional, still exists. As long as King Salman is the heir and ruler, no changes will be made, but the real question is what happens when the King dies or abdicates in the future.

Even that MBS has been given a carte blanche to consolidate his powers, partly via appointing trusted supporters or direct family members, other branches of the House of Saud are still waiting to grab any opportunity to get back in the limelight. A night of the long knives is still not looming, but nothing can be ruled out yet.

At the same time, MBS will need to counter stiff opposition from within the religious establishment, of which a part is still aligned with some of the more conservative royals. MBS, and the King, continue to walk a very fine line, in their strategy to slowly remove religious conservatives or outright extremists from power, without forcing the latter to take to the streets.

The fall-out of the ‘RitzCarlton approach’ at the end of 2017, when tens of leading Saudi businessmen and princes were arrested on fraud charges is still being felt. The Western criticism on the ongoing perceived anti-liberal approach to human rights or women rights also has become an issue, as conservatives are just waiting to hit MBS if he folds for international pressure. For the Crown Prince the current strategy of arresting high-profile liberal forces, especially women, should be largely seen as a fig-leaf to the conservatives, showing that their views are still taken into account by MBS. In the meantime, the Crown Prince continues to wrest political power from the Wahhabi Ulama. In case it comes to a direct confrontation, MBS will not be able to strengthen his own position, leaving him vulnerable to direct and possibly violent reactions.

The perceived anti-democratic moves of MBS should be assessed within the conservative context of the Kingdom. MBS is struggling to keep all balls in the air. Some have already hit the ground but bounced up again, such as the Aramco IPO or some of the Giga Projects. The very short time-schedules set by MBS and his advisors have shown to be too optimistic. The current regime will need to readdress some of them, while stating to the young Saudi supporters that results should not be expected within the next year(s). Optimism is still there, but could easily be turned into a full reactionary opposition if the pain felt at present is much higher than future gains.

The West also should realize that in ‘the new kingdom’ it always will mean that liberalization of the economy, inclusion of females, or openness to the global market, will never mean an end to the position of the House of Saud. All members, including MBS or his father, will take all measures needed to prevent an implosion of the royal family. Changes will be made, changes that for Saudi Arabia are enormous ones, but would never erode the position of the House of Saud. Stabilizing or undermining the power of some of the conservative elite and clerics is more important than the freedom of individuals, in the eye of MBS and his royal supporters.

The next couple of months will be crucial. Opposition within several House of Saud branches still exists. Conservatives and clerics are unhappy about the loss of power and influence. MBS will have another chance to change the Kingdom through successes at the Future Investment Initiative 2018 or progress in the Aramco IPO or gigaprojects. If no success stories are published soon, the positive attention span of the young Saudis could be waning, or even changing to a longing for the past. A potential coup is never far away, as shown before in the Kingdom. High profile events could be a precursor for such a move, if the opportunity exists.

It is clear for MBS, and his backers, that a free-lunch at present is not available for anybody. A capability to juggle a large set of balls is needed, keeping extremists and conservatives at bay, while changing the economy and social fabric forever. Internal stability at present is prevalent over global support for MBS’s future. Changes are painful, but needed. MBS’s future will be depending on it.

By Cyril Widdershoven for


35 Comments on "Is A New Crisis Brewing In The Saudi Royal Family?"

  1. MASTERMIND on Tue, 11th Sep 2018 9:05 pm 

    Everything MBS has tried to do has failed..The Yemen war, Qatar blockaid, Aramco IPO..Just add the Vision 2030 plan to the list..

    Soon he will be the king of the worlds largest kitty litter box..

  2. makati1 on Tue, 11th Sep 2018 10:46 pm 

    More important: ” Why do Americans support conflict with a nuclear power that can completely destroy America?…

    Out of its hatred of Trump the left has united with the forces of evil and war that are leading to conflict with Russia….

    As the US military itself acknowledges, Russia’s weapons are far beyond America’s defenses….

    Life on earth is faced with a situation in which … Washington is willing to risk war with Russia. Never before have irrationality and immorality had such a firm hold on a government. The world should be scared to death of the recklessness and irresponsibility of the US government.”

    THAT is why the US has to be put down and now.

  3. print baby print on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 12:35 am 

    Never before have irrationality and immorality had such a firm hold on a government. The world should be scared to death of the recklessness and irresponsibility of the US government.”
    and all other goverments.
    I think the name of the game is distraction. USA goverment knows that economic situation is not sustainable and they need wars there is no other way out of this mess. War on Iran is inevitable . The economy will going to crush anyway so why instead we dont blame those damn Iranians ( which of course are the same as we all are ). TIme is on iranian side

  4. makati1 on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 2:12 am 

    PBP, not ALL other governments. There are 180+ countries in the world today.

    Not 1 in 10 are causing death and destruction like the US is. Not even close.

    Not 1 in all 180+ depends on the use and sale of weapons for their economy to survive as does the US. Not one.

    You are obviously an American. Americans want to blame others, or at least make them look just as bad. To anyone not brainwashed, the reverse is true. America is the cause of 99% of the world’s problems and deserves what is coming. The sooner the better.

    Maybe a long chain of Cat 4-5 hurricanes hitting the coast this year will start the US collapse big time. Three are in line already.,18.59,1165

    And it appears that a fourth is forming along the African coast. We shall see. Three more months in hurricane season and a very hot ocean all the way north to Nova Scotia.

  5. Majed Alahmadi on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 2:49 am 

    The evil alliance (Qatar+Iran+Muslim Brotherhood) is pumping the media with selected and execrated and mostly altered news about their number one Enemy “Saudi Arabia represented by MBS.

  6. makati1 on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 2:59 am 

    Support of my assertion that the US is the world’s biggest terrorist, warmongering, immoral nation on earth.

    “Washington, using tactics of destruction and chaos, has forced several countries to seek protection from the likes of Russia and Iran….

    Russia in the north, China in the east and Iran in the South are ready to integrate the strategic triangle between their borders (the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India), into the Eurasian plan of development and progress….

    In the name of effectively fighting terrorism and stabilizing key countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, China and Russia are advancing the project of Eurasian integration for the benefit of the whole region and beyond. Washington will have little capacity to throw a spanner in the works and attempt to sabotage the whole project as it finds itself progressively pushed out of the region.”

    Go for it! Send America home.

  7. print baby print on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 6:05 am 

    Mac I am from a country which has been bombarded by Americans( agains all international laws) , so no I am not a fan of usa but I can tell you one thing USA is a golden policemen , can you imagine any other country ( except norway sweden …) to be a world policemen believe me it would be much worse it is in a human nature we are very primitive specie

  8. makati1 on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 6:30 am 

    PBP you have no idea what the world would be like without America. It would be a better place and millions of innocent men, women and children would still be alive. If you truly believe what you say, you are as brainwashed as any American. Maybe you are now enjoying the plunder that they take from countries like yours?

  9. fmr-paultard on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 6:33 am 

    getting desperate aswange? invoke natural disasters as a form of affirmation that supertards america is guilty of sins, and at the same time not believing in superemetard.

    i’m also disappointed supertard (pbuh) said supremetard is “sky daddy”. it seems he’s a libtard atheist and he bashes libtards . he likes jihadis so you guys should get along just great.

  10. twocats on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 7:04 am 

    Some have floated the idea that Nut&Yahoo and S&M-BS are all deriving their crazy thrusts for more power on the back of the Trump Crazy Train. He is an enabler of madness. He spreads madness. And the US was the Center that Can No Longer hold.

    Will their doofish plans fail as badly as Trump’s have? Who cares – the damage has already been done. This is textbook civilizational step-down.

  11. Davy on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 7:22 am 

    “Trump Crazy Train.”

    Two cats, I am curious would you call this crazy too?

    “He Was Screaming ‘F-ck Trump’: Republican Candidate Nearly Stabbed By Deranged Democrat”

    “Episodes of threats and violence perpetuated by angry leftists furious about President Trump’s agenda and policies, are becoming increasingly common in the US, particularly after a deranged Bernie Sanders supporter nearly killed majority whip Steve Scalise after opening fire on a practice session for the Congressional baseball game. Another incident unfolded on Tuesday in northern California, where a 35-year-old man was arrested for whipping out a switchblade and attempting to stab Republican Congressional candidate Rudy Peters while the candidate was working a booth at the Castro Valley Fall Festival.”

  12. deadly on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 7:37 am 

    If it weren’t for all of the sand and heat in all of the Middle East, hurricanes wouldn’t form in the Atlantic and then proceed to the eastern seaboard of the US. So the blame for the destruction to the Carolinas falls directly on the feet of the too much heat from the Middle East.

    All of the oil being exported to the US from Saudi Arabia should be shipped and delivered free of charge until the dollar amount of the damages from Florence are paid in full using oil as the exchange.

    Thanks in advance.

    MBS can be replaced in a heartbeat.

  13. Davy on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 8:32 am 

    “sky daddy”.

    If you see the use of sky daddy by me it is meant to indicate the misuse of religion and spirituality as material for discussions where they do not belong. For example using religion as a basis for government policy or as a method in science is in my opinion a misuse. I am not an atheist. I am also not a sky daddy thumper. The deeper meaning of the myth or the historic context of all religions is worth a look in regards to our ethics, culture, and the historic context of our development. Spirituality which I consider a step beyond religion into an area beyond human control likewise should not be misused in the mundane or man’s pursuit of scientific knowledge. We can use science to study religions and spiritual traditions and we should but science should not be used as a tool to pass judgement except where religion or spirituality clearly violate positioning for example creationism. This is just my opinion.

  14. print baby print on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 8:56 am 

    Mak your hate toward Americans blinded you. Are they good no they arent , are they better ( we are talking as a society of course) let say Bulgary yes they are

  15. fmr-paultard on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 9:08 am 

    oh aswange still waiting for “brilliant flashes”. btw the whole supersonic missiles is hyped alt-tard media. supertards (pbuh) had been working on x planes for a decade or moar now. remember black bird in the early 60s. it means supertards worked out heat sheilding materials and controlled flights.
    and alt-tard media said “can’t be shot down”…but what about black birds being shot down? what about laser missile defense?

    dream on aswange. my faith in supertards is unshakable and you’re remaining shaking with anger! i’ll be here enjoying safe electricity and indoors plumbing while you defecate in the open pits

  16. joe on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 10:12 am 

    Majed Alahmadi on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 2:49 am

    Didn’t see any Shia on the planes on 9-11-01 dude.
    Fuck you and your pro-Hillary hate speech. Russia, Russia is the only country that stood up to those Saudi backed maniacs in Syria who cut off the head of a kid and then they whacked off to the snuff tape they made of it.

    These are the animals that currently rule over idlib, I hope Putin bombs them all to Hell. The ‘humanitarian crisis’ is that al qaeda are allowed to keep 3,000,000 human sheilds in Idlib (sovereign Syrian government territory)

  17. MASTERMIND on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 11:14 am 


    Trump has created concentration camps for children..I don’t see you complaining about that huh? at least clog is honest in admitting he is a Nazi in favor of genocide..

  18. MASTERMIND on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 11:14 am 

    The next financial crash is imminent, and China’s resource crisis could be the trigger

  19. Davy on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 11:42 am 

    “Trump has created concentration camps for children.”

    check your facts before you chirp

    “Did the Obama Administration Separate Families?”

    “In defending its “zero tolerance” border policy that has caused the separation of families, the Trump administration has argued that the Obama and Bush administrations did this too. That’s misleading. Experts say there were some separations under previous administrations, but no blanket policy to prosecute parents and, therefore, separate them from their children. “Bush and Obama did not have policies that resulted in the mass separation of parents and children like we’re seeing under the current administration,” Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, told us. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said at a June 18 press briefing: “The Obama administration, the Bush administration all separated families. … They did — their rate was less than ours, but they absolutely did do this. This is not new. Nielsen went on to explain that there is indeed something new, as we wrote in another article on this topic. Under a “zero tolerance policy” on illegal immigration announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in early April, the administration is now referring all illegal border crossings for criminal prosecution. By doing that, parents have been separated from their children, because children can’t be held in detention facilities for adults. DHS told us that 2,342 children were separated from their parents between May 5 and June 9.”

  20. Davy on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 11:46 am 

    “The next financial crash is imminent, and China’s resource crisis could be the trigger”

    “China’s economic slowdown could be a key trigger of the coming global financial crisis, but one of its core drivers — China’s dwindling supplies of cheap domestic energy — is little understood by mainstream economists.”

    “Last October, INSURGE drew attention to new scientific study led by the China University of Petroleum in Beijing, which found that China is about to experience a peak in its total oil production as early as 2018. Without finding an alternative source of “new abundant energy resources”, the study warned, the 2018 peak in China’s combined conventional and unconventional oil will undermine continuing economic growth and “challenge the sustainable development of Chinese society.”

    There fixed it for the youngster

  21. MASTERMIND on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 11:50 am 


    You are changing the subject and arguing a red herring..And your article even says there wasn’t a blanket policy under Obama..Maybe you should actually read what you post low brow imbecile..

    Maybe you should read from many sources instead of being so narrow minded and only reading zerohedge propaganda?

  22. MASTERMIND on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 11:50 am 

    “President Trump’s Republican Party will create more debt in one year than was generated in the first 200 years of America’s existence.”

  23. Davy on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 2:01 pm 

    Read it again or just read my reference. WTF does a blanket policy matter? Families were separated and you act like they were not.

    “Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said at a June 18 press briefing: “The Obama administration, the Bush administration all separated families.”

    Lame answer:
    “.And your article even says there wasn’t a blanket policy under Obama..”

  24. Davy on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 2:10 pm 

    “President Trump’s Republican Party will create more debt in one year than was generated in the first 200 years of America’s existence.”

    And so on……

    “What President Trump Inherits”

    “The debt owed to the public stands at more than $14.4 trillion as Obama exits office, which is 129 percent higher than it was eight years earlier. Federal debt owed to the public will reach more than 80 percent of GDP in 2022, and nearly 86 percent in 2026, CBO projects. (“Total” debt is nearly $20 trillion, up 88 percent under Obama. But that figure includes money the government in effect owes to itself.)”

  25. Boney Joe on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 7:27 pm 

    Leave it to Loser #1 DavyDonaldTurd (DDT) to defend the indefensible, always by attempting to redirect the conversation to an entirely extraneous topic.

    He is so predictable and disgusting,

  26. Boney Joe on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 7:31 pm 


    “You are changing the subject and arguing a red herring.”

    This is how Loser #1 DavyDonaldTurd (DDT) ALWAYS debates issues. How else can he defend the indefensible.

    The guy is so predictable and disingenuous.

  27. makati1 on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 7:36 pm 

    PBP, I never said I hated Americans. I say that I hate what America has become and blame Americans for allowing it to happen and for their continuing support of the killing.

    I want the US to be taken down because it is the world’s major terrorist organization and is destroying peace around the world as it plunders and kills innocents for power and wealth. There has been no peace in the world for the last 100 years because of US meddling and invasions.

    Twisting my assertion to fit your narrow mind is obvious. Are YOU a Neocon warmonger? Sounds like it.

  28. Majed Alahmadi on Thu, 13th Sep 2018 12:07 am 

    joe on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 10:12 am

    Sure you did not see any Shia on the planes on 9-11-01. If Saudi was behind 9/11 you would have seen 15 Iranian out of the 19.

  29. Majed Alahmadi on Thu, 13th Sep 2018 12:22 am 

    joe on Wed, 12th Sep 2018 10:12 am

    Where did the 9/11 pilots had their training?
    You think by having few hours sysna small planes you can manage 747?
    Check the Newyork court judgment on Iran and check the German intelligence report.
    Saudi Arabia view USA as the most important ally since 1930. The evil forces wants to cut that alliance and isolate Saudi Arabia in preparation for concurring the Holy lands in Saudi (Check Khomeini plan and check the 1979 Iranian constitution)

  30. print baby print on Thu, 13th Sep 2018 12:43 am 

    No I am not. I misunderstand you I apologies . All Empires became evil because of so much power . Power intoxicate , can you imagine Saudis or Iranians with monopoly we wouldnt exist by now. We all have to scale down this is not SUSTAINABLE any more thats what I am talking about

  31. makati1 on Thu, 13th Sep 2018 1:49 am 

    PBP, yes, now I understand your point of view. English is a bitch of a language to master. Most Americans never do. Foreigners often have difficulty with all of its contradictions and multiple meanings for words and the difference punctuation makes. It is a bastard language from all of the European, African and Asian countries,

  32. joe on Thu, 13th Sep 2018 9:55 am 

    Majed Alahmadi on Thu, 13th Sep 2018 12:07 am


    Typical jihadi. Answers logic with conspiricy. Check the 28 pages of the 9-11 report that Bush hid (released by Trump). Says Saudi funded some of the attackers.

    I’m wondering if a genie inhabits your mouth. You should excorise its lying. Try fire. That usually works I heard.

  33. Majed Alahmadi on Fri, 14th Sep 2018 2:04 am 

    joe on Thu, 13th Sep 2018 9:55 am

    I will not go down to your level.
    I said Newyork Court and German Intelligence report mentioned in the court proceedings.

    Did I invent any thing?

  34. joe on Fri, 14th Sep 2018 9:45 am 

    Majed Alahmadi on Fri, 14th Sep 2018 2:04 am

    Answering conspiricy with logic, I know it’s hard for a jihadist like yourself to admit, but come on, deep inside, you are proud that Mohammad told you guys to ram planes into buildings and kill people having a peaceful consentual time in a disco, or just running a marathon…..

    A Saudi fake news website fudged the translation and faked a ‘confession’

    “Al-Arabiya claimed Mohammad-Javad Larijani, an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, “confessed in unprecedented remarks that Iran facilitated the passage of al-Qaeda members who carried out the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York”.

    But in the original 45-minute interview, Larijani begins by stating “in the commission report it says..” before going into detail about the four official US reports on 9/11, two of which mention Iran.

    Larijani was in fact detailing the accusations against Iran presented in the Commission Report – and stressed the commission had concluded the Islamic Republic had no involvement in the attack.

    “We found no evidence that Iran or Hizballah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack. At the time of their travel through Iran, the al-Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation,” said the 9/11 Commission Report published in 2004.

    Fifteen of the 19 plane hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, two were from the UAE, one was Egyptian and one was Lebanese.”


  35. Majed Alahmadi on Sun, 16th Sep 2018 1:28 am 

    joe on Fri, 14th Sep 2018 9:45 am

    I am not a jihadist and I denounce any killing of innocent people. I am proud to be a Muslim believing in coexistence and living in harmony with all God creatures (human,plants,nature,and climate).
    If you want genuine discussion it is fine with me.
    But do not bring quotes from the evil alliance(such as or

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