The internal coup against rival members of the House of Saud engineered by Donald Trump’s “special envoy” Jared Kushner and the Binyamin Netanyahu government in Israel in concert with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has now extended beyond Saudi Arabia’s borders into Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the head of a seemingly-stable national unity coalition of Sunnis, Shi’as supported by Hezbollah, and Christians supported by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, resigned after MBS called the prime minister to Riyadh for talks. Upon landing in Riyadh, Hariri was forced by the Saudis to announce his resignation to the Lebanese people. The Saudis, never masters of nuance, had Hariri read in a televised address that his resignation was due to “foreign intervention” in Lebanon’s domestic affairs. Hariri was also instructed to read a statement that he believed his personal safety to be in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, a classified Israeli cable sent by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to Israeli embassies abroad called for Israeli envoys to press host governments to support the Saudi move with regard to Hariri’s government and agitate for a Saudi war with Lebanon. The MBS regime in Riyadh had previously announced that Hezbollah’s presence in the Lebanese government amounted to a “declaration of war” by Lebanon against Saudi Arabia. Saudi Gulf Affair Minister Thamer al-Sabhan, MBS’s point man for Saudi operations directed against Lebanon and Qatar, declared that Lebanon’s current government would be “dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia.”
It was later reported that Hariri resigned under duress from the Saudis. Observers pointed to his resignation statement being written in the Saudi dialect of Arabic. It was further reported that Hariri was being held, against his will, by the Saudis in Riyadh, placing the prime minister in the same status as several Saudi princes, including billionaire Prince Alaweed bin Talal and Saudi Arabia’s former crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, in the same incarcerated situations in the Saudi capital. The princes are being held in detention at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Although Donald Trump tweeted his support for MBS’s coup while on a trip to Asia, the U.S. State Department continued to back the government of Lebanon against the Saudi and Israeli subterfuge designed to bring about a Lebanese constitutional crisis and a war between Beirut and Riyadh.
With Saudi-supported jihadist forces in Syria on the run from Bashar al-Assad’s and Hezbollah’s forces, MBS wants to shift the battlefield to Lebanon. Saudi Arabia suffered a humiliating defeat in Syria after the capture by Assad’s forces of Albu Kamal, the last known town in the country that was under the control of the Saudi-backed Islamic State.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared that Hariri was forced to read his resignation statement by the Saudis. Lebanon’s government is working through third party states to have Hariri returned to Lebanon from his Saudi captivity.
A dubious Saudi report about a Yemeni Houthi missile attack on Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport was followed by Saudi claims that the attack by the Iranian-backed rebels constituted an “act of war” by Iran against Saudi Arabia. The leaked Israeli cable also pressed Israeli diplomats to push their host governments to support Saudi military action against the Houthis and Iran. In response to the “missile attack,” MBS ordered an air-land-sea blockade of Yemen, crippling international efforts to ship relief supplies to starving and sick Yemeni civilians, including children.
The United Nations was forced to ground all humanitarian flights to Yemen. The decision could not have come at a worse time for the UN Office for the Co-ordination for Humanitarian Affairs, which is grappling with famine and a cholera outbreak in Yemen.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington and a well-documented liar, proffered an unfounded conspiracy theory that Lebanese Hezbollah, working with Iranian Revolutionary Guards agents, launched the missile from Houthi-held territory in Yemen. Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, issued a statement, obviously provided to her by her Saudi and Israeli handlers, that the missile shot toward Riyadh was an “Iranian Qaim” missile. Haley provided no other proof for her flimsy allegation.
It is believed that one of the issues Jared Kushner, an observant Orthodox Jew, discussed with MBS during marathon all-night “strategy sessions” in Riyadh, was the privatization of the state-owned Saudi Aramco. Trump tweeted that he wanted the Saudis to have the New York Stock Exchange issue the initial public offering (IPO) for Saudi Aramco stock. The company is valued at $100 billion. Suspiciously, Thomas Farley, the NYSE president, was seen in Riyadh at the same time Kushner and Trump Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, a former lawyer for the Trump Organizations, were in the Saudi capital. There are credible reports that Kushner’s visit to Riyadh followed a secret trip by MBS to Tel Aviv, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an advocate for the illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank, at the heavily-secured HaKirya Defense Ministry building.
Israeli involvement in the MBS power move was also seen in MBS summoning Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh, where he was instructed by MBS to scrap a power-sharing agreement with Hamas. Hamas had previously agreed to hand over power in Gaza to Abbas’s government, a concordat that alarmed the Israelis. MBS is believed to have warned Abbas that the same fate that befell Hariri in Lebanon could occur with Abbas if he did not carry out MBS’s wishes.
Banks in the United Arab Emirates became alarmed after the UAE Central Bank in Dubai requested information on the UAE bank accounts of Alaweed, sacked National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, and several other Saudi princes and businessmen, including former Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi. Dubai banks let it be known that they fear that the Saudi move will jeopardize Dubai as a financial hub for the Middle East. MBS preceded the Dubai inquiry by freezing the Saudi accounts of Alaweed and the other detained princes.
MBS continues a reckless policy of maintaining a travel and economic blockade of Qatar and has been working behind the scenes to engineer a palace coup within the ruling House of al-Thani in Doha. Distant claimants to the Qatari throne have been enlisted by MBS to stake a claim to power in Qatar in the hope that they might help trigger an MBS-type coup in the country. MBS is also reported to be backing a pro-Saudi faction within the Oman royal family to succeed the ailing Sultan Qabus bin Said after his death. Unlike other Arab monarchies, Oman has no designated heir apparent to the throne in Muscat. Oman, like Qatar, has irritated MBS by maintaining good relations with Iran.
In an Arabian version of “The Game of Thrones,” the deputy governor of Asir province, Mansour bin Muqrin, and his aides were killed in a suspicious helicopter crash. There were reports that Muqrin, who was once in the line of succession to the throne, sent a letter to 1,000 Saudi princes urging them to oppose MBS’s seizure of power. Other reports suggested Mansour’s helicopter was shot down while en route to Yemen, where the Houthis who govern most of north Yemen extended guarantees of asylum. In addition, the Pentagon may have assisted the MBS regime in providing the Saudi Air Force with targeting information on Mansour’s helicopter. The U.S. maintains a significant intelligence and military footprint around Asir and Yemen, including a major intelligence facility in Djibouti.
MBS has ordered Saudi Special Forces units to confine to their palaces the princes who govern the provinces of Tabuk, the Eastern Province and Mecca. Special forces units also surrounded the palaces of Prince Mishal bin Abdul Aziz, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, and Prince Khalid bin Sultan, all senior royals in the House of Saud. Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, 44—the son of the late King Fahd—was reportedly killed during a shootout between Saudi Special Forces and the prince’s security guards.
Trump tweeted that King Salman and MBS “know exactly what they are doing.” During his May 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia, Trump inked a deal that provides for billions of dollars in military hardware to the Saudis. Trump’s tweet of support for MBS’s reign of terror that has seen two princes and their aides murdered by Saudi security forces, the Lebanese prime minister detained against his will in Riyadh, a threat to do the same to the Palestinian president, and a call for war between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon and Iran stands to ignite the entire Middle East in massive conflict.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2017 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).