Maybe the Saudi’s thought America would fight their war for them like we have in the last 20+ years.
Pretty much. But the Saudis are simply playing cards from our own deck. We spent decades telling them they were an essential part of our security, and then when the Shah fell we continued to bolster them as a bulwark against the scary Shiites over there.
This is as plausible as anything. Because looking at a map of the mideast, I don’t see how the Saudis can do anything of significant military value in Lebanon themselves, unless they choose a modern-day “We’ll just go through Belgium, what could go wrong?” plan.
Hariri’s own people in Lebanon and US officials are now confirming that he’s being held prisoner in Saudi Arabia.
What is their plan? Are they just going to hold him there indefinitely? Did they even think it through that far?
My best guess now is that they’re afraid that opponents of the new regime will meet in Lebanon to plot against them. It’s an ideal place to meet with other Saudis and foreign intelligence agencies. And you have the plausible cover story of just going there for a vacation. So they make up this big crisis as an excuse to order their citizens not to go there.
The Post has a scary and insightful article up today about Yemen.
The Yemeni crisis is such a senseless tragedy but it reflects a breakdown in society, and what’s scary is that it doesn’t take much for that breakdown to occur. When the Houthis took over the government there were some assassinations, but worse was the sense that they had “occupied” the government.
This is the end point when states no longer have a monopoly on violence. This 4th generational warfare stuff isn’t decisive enough to win, just enough to destroy, and everyone loses. Thanks to Saudi Arabia blockading supplies and bombing campaigns, it’s 50x worse than it should be, but they’re terrified of Shi’a Houthis gaining power, and would rather Al Qaeda win and split the country apart than that.
It also, imo, gives credence to a kind of violent reactions against government takeovers of non-state actors that seek to usurp the state’s functions by the state. Governments being taken over by factions that reject the state and lack political legitimacy don’t just “work out”, it leads to complete social and governmental collapse. Maybe that’s the lesson from the Russian Revolution, and maybe that’s the lesson in the 21st Century, that you have to work with states, not with factions, and support states in most cases, even if they’re “bad”, in the hope of transitioning them from a bad government to a good government, rather than from a bad government to no government.
This one is a little overexcited perhaps, but still worth looking at.
He links to a good article by Laura Rozen. I’ve followed her for several years and found that she has a very good understanding of the region and international diplomacy.
The whole Shia-Sunni thing has been played up in the West as “radical/bad vs. conservative/good,” often, but it’s not that at all, either historically or in contemporary terms. In many places, the Shias are the victims of political and physical oppression, and often are either a majority of the population at least in a regional area, or are a significant portion of the population, one that doesn’t usually have full political rights.
When the Saudis express their fear and loathing of Shias, they present it to the gullible (us) as good guys vs. those evil bastards supported by the even evil-er Iran, when in fact it’s more accurate to say that Riyadh is desperately afraid of anything smacking of democracy, mass politics, or equal rights for people who aren’t, well, their kleptocratic family cabal.
Unfortunately there are few if any internal options for governmental change in Saudi Arabia, and the US has persistently pissed away any of the chances there were over the past decades, instead doubling down on the existing idiots.