Some major things have been going down in Saudi Arabia in the past few days, and while the domestic repercussions are immense, the geopolitical and international implications are significant too. Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince, MbS, has conducted a purge of 11 of the most powerful senior princes, ostensibly on corruption charges. They likely were corrupt, though their money could come in handy for MbS’ other ambitious plans, if he can get his hands on it.
Is it a revolution? A coup? Certainly it’s about consolidating power into his hands, unusually, and potentially dangerously, compared to past (very old) Saudi monarchs. He is still building alliances within his extended family, but with him in control.
But that’s not all. Somehow, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, and Hezbollah, are all involved in this too. Lebanon’s prime minister Hariri shockingly resigned -while in Riyadh – during this whole saga. But suspicions are growing that Saudi Arabia forced the issue, and are not allowing him to go back to Lebanon, though exile in France may be allowed.
Also while this was all happening, a missile was sent from Yemen towards Riyadh, which MbS publicly called “an act of war,” not from Yemen, but from Iran. This is definitely bad news for cooling regional tensions, and likely for US Middle East policy as well.