London – “Arab Jerusalem”:
Politecchio has published an article for former CIA Operations Officer and Assistant Professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University, Douglas London, in which he says that former US intelligence chiefs, John Brennan and Mike Pompeo, have hidden Saudi Arabia’s problems from the Americans.
His report began by referring to the word of a former CIA official before the Brookings Institution, Bruce Riddle who spoke on November 21, 2017 about US-Saudi relations. His statements were surprising, especially since he spent 40 years as a “professional observer of Saudi Arabia,” politics, diplomacy, security and economics.
Saudi Arabia has undergone an important change, as it has transformed from a “naturally mysterious and predictable” kingdom into a “volatile and difficult to predict” state.
Riddle made two important observations: Saudi Arabia has recently undergone an important change, as it has moved from a “naturally mysterious and predictable” kingdom to a “volatile and difficult to predict” country. He said that the science of “Saudi Arabia” has become more difficult than the science of “Kremlinology” in the era of the Cold War. The second point is that the US administration of Donald Trump decided to give Saudi Arabia its full support without thinking or understanding of the leadership in it. Riddle said that Trump “gave Saudi Arabia a blank paper in domestic and foreign policy.”
The US policy traditionally based on “caution and avoiding risks” has turned into “adventure and intervention, and if it is not reckless, it is extremist.” The writer commented that Saudi Arabia sent tremors around the world recently when it announced a “chicken war” with Russia in the field of oil prices amid the Corona virus crisis. Prior to this, Saudi Arabia had entered a purge operation carried out by Muhammad bin Salman and strengthened his rule and still enjoys the support of Trump.
The author wonders, what happened? Who saw all this coming? And what does all this say about someone the White House insists on seeing as an ally?
The author believes that Trump should have listened to what Riddle and other intelligence experts say, that the Trump administration adopted Muhammad bin Salman in the same way that the administration of Barack Obama adopted Muhammad bin Nayef, the interior minister and former crown prince. So far, Muhammad bin Salman has dragged the American administration to the quagmire of Yemen, killing a journalist who was residing in the United States, destabilizing the oil market and rapprochement with America’s competitors, namely Russia, China and Iran. When it comes to Saudi Arabia, the United States has relied on security services and information gathering to determine the drivers of internal leadership and dynamism.
The writer believes that Saudi Arabia is a mysterious country that is ruled by an old king at the age of 84 years. His rule will be short and he rules as a cover for the real ruler. Therefore, security information on what is happening in this country that Washington has contracted with arms contracts and commercial and diplomatic relations is more important than ever.
The science of “Saudi Arabia” has become more difficult than the science of “Kremlinology” in the era of the Cold War
The problem referred to by Riddle and other former officials who spoke to the media is that the US intelligence services, especially the CIA, have adopted a politicized approach to Saudi Arabia, particularly in light of its last 3 managers. Instead of asking complex questions and strengthening information-gathering efforts, managers reach results and stay away from any information they don’t like. And the trend still exists, as in the case of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who pushed the state of emergency to pass an arms deal to Saudi Arabia. London comments that Riddle’s statements reveal a worrying fact, which is that the various departments in the White House chose to ignore the actions of Saudi Arabia and ignore what is happening behind the veil of the kingdom.
The author believes that the politicization of security information does not require strict decisions to kill the truth. There is no indication that the Barack Obama administration or George W. Bush requested a national evaluation on Saudi Arabia, which is to present an analytical paper on what is going on in the Kingdom. Critics accuse both Trump and Obama of adopting the same approach to the intelligence community. But the way the current administration deals is unprecedented, 40 years ago the writer did not see an effort by the intelligence and the National Security Agency to conceal the truth that exposes, contradicts or annoys the president. Mike Pompeo and his successor Gina Hasbel worked hard to control the CIA’s information, attitudes, and comments that make up their image with the president’s picture.
The writer asks what happened to the US security operation related to Saudi Arabia and how it can be fixed.
London remembers how he visited Saudi Arabia with John Brennan, Obama’s intelligence chief, where Prince Salman, who was crown prince, met them for a lunch. He said that the prince was polite and eager to receive and welcome his guests by shaking hands even though his hand was constantly shaking, and his conversation with the guests was nothing more than regular expressions and what was written for him. His focus was short and he left quickly after sitting down. Riddle expected the prince, the current king, to suffer from pre-dementia symptoms. At that party, an unknown person was present and remained attached to Prince Salman in addition to his aides.
The writer was surprised that this person was none other than Salman’s son, Muhammad bin Salman. This is a person the security men did not expect to attend and they only knew that his name was on the Al Saud family tree. London says he watched Brennan speaking in a loud voice with the young prince in the corner of the tent after his father left. There was no familiarity in the conversation because American intelligence chose her man, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who was known as the “sweetheart for American counter-terrorism and intelligence services.” Muhammad bin Nayef became a CIA man in Saudi Arabia. Riddle portrayed him as an anti-al Qaeda hero and survived an assassination. Intelligence officers praised him from George Tint, who he described as “my best interlocutor,” to Leo Panetta, who said he was “the smartest Saudi among his generation.”
John Brennan, appointed by Obama as director of intelligence in 2013, did the same, and sent Mohammed bin Nayef to the administration. The writer believes that Brennan manages the file of Saudi Arabia in a way in which he determines any perspective that reveals new dynamics within the family and affects the chosen person and his weakness, which limits the president’s perspective on the man who wants to help him reach the throne. Brennan persuaded Obama to invest in Mohammed bin Nayef. The CIA director tried to use the Saudi influence to serve the broad and vital US initiatives that range from Syria to Iran, the peace settlement, East Asia and Russia. While Brennan worked to present a good picture of his man in the White House, he was unable to protect him and make up for his weakness within the family.
The author believes that everyone in Saudi Arabia knew that there was no friendly relationship between Bin Nayef and Bin Salman. He says that the assassination attempt on Bin Nayef left more traces on him than he revealed, as he remained dependent on painkillers. This is the point that Muhammad bin Salman used to engineer his coup and persuade the Council of allegiance that he was sick and relied on painkillers. Hence, America lost the horse it had wagered on and was left to deal with a rising star about which little is known. How did this happen?
Brennan, who was known as Saudi Arabia, provided security information that would have been used to serve the decision-making process
The reason, he says, is that Brennan, who was known as Saudi Arabia, politicized the security information that would have been used to serve the decision-making process. The close associates of Muhammad bin Nayef knew what was going to happen and so they changed their positions and did not help their man, all because of the small administration and the lack of credibility of the information provided by Brennan.
The author believes that the American intelligence, after seven years of error, appears to have not learned. She ran into trouble with Trump, who was unwilling to hear the contradictory positions of his officials and preferred his intuition in foreign policy affairs. That is why Mike Pompeo, while working as director of intelligence, found someone who lacked curiosity, depth and willingness to present what contradicted his master. Unlike Brennan, current director Gina Hasbel did not pretend that she wanted to build a relationship with Muhammad bin Salman or any other rising star. This is not a bad approach. Although it has run a CIA station before, its entrance is suitable for European capitals, not forging ties with Saudi society. However, it has conveyed the facts from Saudi Arabia as it is without separating them from what is reported in the media about Muhammad bin Salman, nor his involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
But like her predecessor, she hesitated to look deep and convey bad news that contradicted or embarrassed her master. That is, if she was gathering information about the kingdom, but her master, who holds a positive view of Muhammad bin Salman and defended him before the CIA report that confirmed that the killing of Khashoggi was ordered by him, would prefer the problem box to remain closed. Trump was a source of strength and weakness for Muhammad bin Salman, as he supported him in files and pressed him on others. Trump was helpful in the Khashoggi file and the Yemen war, but he was a source of concern for bin Salman in Iran and Palestinian-Israeli peace and Syria.
The writer believes that the Saudi family is not homogeneous and perhaps Mohammed bin Salman might have faced knives night like his cousin if he had not been careful. His latest moves show his lack of confidence in how long his father will survive to give him the cover. Including his arrest for his uncle Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz and Muhammad bin Nayef. The American administration, which facilitated the return of Prince Ahmed from exile, did nothing. She did not object to the arrest of her former man, Muhammad bin Nayef. This was followed by pressure on Musaed bin Nayef, Saad al-Jabri, and the arrest of two of his children to force him to return from Canada. Al-Jabri, who is known as what the media described, “Where the bodies were buried” had escaped after the overthrow of Muhammad bin Nayef.
London says about arresting those close to America or who consider themselves safe from detention based on American assurances, that Mohammed bin Salman revealed his cruelty and sent a clear message about the dangers of cooperation with America, the price of the opposition and America’s weakness in protecting their assets. In this context, Trump does not want any information revealing this situation and sabotaging his vision of the Kingdom and his relationship with the Prince.
Muhammad bin Salman has his own internal problems, and he must be satisfied with the powerful Sheikh family associated with the royal family in marriage. One can ask the extent to which the Al-Sheikh family – the descendants of Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab – supports the Prince’s reforms such as allowing women to drive and allowing music and mixing between men and women in public places.