Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 07, 2016

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Has Debt-To-GDP

The Economists interviews Muhammad bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. He has debt-to-GDP. And yes, that is sick.

There is quite a lot of obfuscation and lying in his answer, like when he denies to be responsible for the war on Yemen, but there are also some interesting points.

It turns out the guy wants to do a "Thatcher revolution for Saudi Arabia" with new regressive taxes, a large sell off of public assets, privatization of social services and so on. He does not believe that there will be any resistance against that or that people will call for "no taxation without representation". Actually he claims that there is a lot of consultation with the people going on all the time but he does not say how that supposedly happens.

The Saudi Arabia watchers I read never mention such consultations. So that is a bit weird. Does he really believe he can change the basic social contract of the country without any resistance?

He does.

And here are the parts of his answers where he slips and which explain why (emphasis added):

[W]e have clear programmes over the next five years. We announced some of them, and the rest we will announce in the near future. In addition to this, my debt-to-GDP is only 5%. So I have all points of strength, and I have the opportunities to increase our non-oil revenues in many sectors, and I have a global economic network.
We do not expect that our unemployment will grow, we believe it will decline over the next few years, to a good extent. At the same time I have reserves now, ten million jobs that are being occupied by non-Saudi employees that I can resort to at any time of my choosing. But I don’t want to pressure the private sector, unless this is the last resort.
Do you think having a greater proportion of women in the workforce would be good for Saudi Arabia?
No doubt. A large portion of my productive factors are unutilised. And I have population growth reaching very scary figures. Women’s work will help in both of these issues.

The young dude not only thinks he owns the country, he actually thinks he is the country. He has debt-to-GDP, he has ten million jobs in reserve, he has all women of Saudi Arabia as productive factor and he has scary population growth.

Does the guy understand that such an attitude guarantees that he personally will be held responsible for everything that will inevitably go wrong with his country?

It is doubtful that this dude will die of old age.

Posted by b on January 7, 2016 at 18:08 UTC | Permalink


"He" is a war criminal and "He" is responsible for thousands of death and destruction of a country."He" is working with ISIS and alnusra so "He" is a terrorist and our beloved US and West are supporters. "They" should be tried at ICC.

Posted by: Santa | Jan 7 2016 18:18 utc | 1

"It is doubtful that this dude will die of old age."

This wouldn't bother me and is there any commenters today that it would bother? The house of saud is dying faster than Amerika and that saying something.

Posted by: jo6pac | Jan 7 2016 18:23 utc | 2

It simply the use of the Royal plural where the regent is seen as the embodiment of sovereignty as conferred by the Goddess. Surely you know that!

Posted by: scoobie don't | Jan 7 2016 18:28 utc | 3

thanks b.. pretty scary isn't it? a self centered retard that happens to be sitting on who knows what i nato provided military weaponry and etc and the guy can't think past the local fence post.. jesus, er.. i mean mohammad- it defies belief..

Posted by: james | Jan 7 2016 18:31 utc | 4

Sounds like he drank the neoliberal koolaid without the aid of a mentor or anthropologist (y'know, to educate him on the heretical point of view and the ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead part of Thatcherism .. and Reaganomics) ... I'm doubtful that there is more than a small cadre of Saudi neoliberals and libertarians, though they may be the best connected, most 'hip' and loudest ...

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Jan 7 2016 18:37 utc | 5

It's fun to remember that Royal Families all get along together like a house on fire.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 7 2016 18:38 utc | 6

It's always fun when the 1% or the 0.0001% preach austerity .... and crony capitalism under the guise of privatization ....

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Jan 7 2016 18:55 utc | 7

Leading to the question of which is worse:

>> a subverted Democracy where responsibility for evil policy is diffuse; or

>> a absolute Monarch/Dictator who is the embodiment of evil?

Evil straw-men are used repeatedly by "centrists" that pander to the left and rule from the right. Monarchs/Dictators don't employ such subterfuge.

The co-conspirator supporters of tafiri extremists are ALL responsible. But TPTB of so-called democracies get a pass.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 7 2016 19:17 utc | 8

Interesting. Many excellent points. A few thoughts though:

1. Since when does anyone important ever get held responsible for anything? If anything one might say that a ruler who feels a personal sense of ownership of his nation might - just might - have a vested interest in its continuity. Unlike the current establishment in the USA whose philosophy is to loot as much as possible as fast as possible, and if it all falls apart no worries they don't care about the nation anyhow they'll just get on their megayachts and sail away...

2. I'm not saying that he isn't a monster, but at least he is concerned about population growth, and jobs. Unlike the guy in Syria, who outlawed contraceptives and deliberately created a massive population explosion (hey Assad, how'd that work out for you?) Or Angela Merkel who is determined to at least double Germany's population to be in line with her new move to eliminate the minimum wage... because cheap labor. Or American politicians who say that if replacing American workers with foreign nationals increases unemployment and drives down wages so what, why should they care more about their fellow citizens than foreign nationals?

I hate to say it, but compared to so many western 'leaders' the Saudi prince seems almost progressive... but the bar here is undeniably low..

Posted by: TG | Jan 7 2016 19:25 utc | 9

OK, TG I got what you wrote and more or less I agree.

But that's a rhetorics, I doubt his concern goes beyond his palaces. While KSA is single-family owned and they have in-family fight over the throne, the USA is multi-family-individuals owned, that is collective oligarchy. The Country-manager of both countries are the later ones.

Posted by: Neretva'43 | Jan 7 2016 19:37 utc | 10

B having lived among GCC Arabs , majority of them ,Prince or no Prince, have this mentality that they own the Country and every expat owe them a gratitude for coming to thier country.

This prince clown might either died mysteriously or get exiled to Comoros!

Posted by: Whereisthejsutice | Jan 7 2016 19:42 utc | 11

MBS thinks he is a genius and will lead Saudi Arabia into the 21th century.
The war in Yemen is a the proof of how "successful" he'll be!

Posted by: virgile | Jan 7 2016 19:52 utc | 12

There *is* no accountability for a Saudi royal now so he has no reason to fear yet. Maybe he'll feel differently next year this time.

Posted by: yellowsnapdragon | Jan 7 2016 19:59 utc | 13

Why Saudi leaders keep making bad decisions: they're scared

Here's a list of some of the big threats the Saudi regime sees today:

A popular, pro-democracy uprising, like the ones that overthrew the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia

A resurgent Sunni extremist threat, whether from al-Qaeda, ISIS, or an ideologically similar group that sees the Sauds as corrupt and un-Islamic

A Shia uprising in the Eastern Province, where the bulk of Saudi Arabia's oil fields and infrastructure are located and where most of the country's Shia minority also happen to live

Increased Iranian influence on its borders (in Bahrain and Yemen, especially)

Abandonment by the United States in favor of Iran, or even just US disengagement from the region in general, thus depriving Saudi Arabia of its great power protector

The loss of credibility as a responsible custodian of the two Muslim holy places (and perhaps even the loss of custodianship entirely, for example to an international body tasked with administering the areas)

Posted by: virgile | Jan 7 2016 20:00 utc | 14

“It is doubtful that this dude will die of old age.”

That at all is not what’s bothering me, what bothers me, is how many more will die before this SOB dude’ time comes.

Posted by: kooshy | Jan 7 2016 20:02 utc | 15

It’s an absolute monarchy, and the SOB is running the show for his ill dad, so he correctly things he and he his dad own the country and all their subjects, let say, he still is living in his 19th century and before cocoon.

Posted by: kooshy | Jan 7 2016 20:07 utc | 16

TG, I find it rather hard to believe that a secular government like that of Syria would "outlaw contraceptives and deliberately create a massive population explosion." A brief use of google found this
site that seems to indicate that as of 2009, at least, contraceptives were widely used in Syria. And considering how many Syrians have been murdered, I find your dismissive comment about Assad in rather poor taste. Can you actually supply a source for your accusation that the Syrian government outlawed contraceptives?

Posted by: Glenn Brown | Jan 7 2016 20:14 utc | 17

Privatization is a short-term (even at 25 years contracts) solution to a cash flow problem ... it really does not address the job creation issues, likely to be exacerbated by belt-tightening provisions.
The Saudis are accustomed to belt-tightening in response to short-falls ... Tourism is a major money-maker of the trickle down variety ... but privatization is more a matter of changing who (temporarily?) pockets some of the revenues (3 airports to be privatized in the next 3 years, beginning in 3 months, 25 year contracts, bidding open to foreigners)...

Think football stadiums selling not only naming rights, but also parking, food services etc. In my personal experience, with hospital out-sourcing, it usually leads to reduction in services and their quality and vastly worse treatment of employees. The "plant" or building will be gleaming and impressive ... the work force will be "disposable" and exhausted from being expected to "meet projections" -- a sharpening of the gap between the travelers and the workerbees ...
If these public projects are seen as the "gift of the Royal family to the people of KSA, turning them into revenue centers for the Kingdom may signal strategic weakness rather than business acumen. We'll see. This, like austerity" may not be a new thing ... I'm not finding evidence one way or another
Apparently one motivation may be that Jordan and Dubai recently gave their air-transport hubs very expensive makeovers/upgrades ... but then they could afford to ... If commuters suffer because the vehicle traffic infrastructure is being sacrificed ...

from September:

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Jan 7 2016 20:26 utc | 18


Interesting article but I believe the author's intention was to form the eventual perception by the Westerners of Saudi Arabia acting irrationally into a one accepting it as based on some kind of objectivity. In this sense it looks like a push in favor of Saudi rulers.

Posted by: ATH | Jan 7 2016 20:29 utc | 19

I wonder how "the Arab Street" will react to the l'Etat c'est moi? As for the comment on women in the workplace, truly illuminating.
No doubt they'll have their bolt holes.

Posted by: Cortes | Jan 7 2016 20:48 utc | 20

One question The Economist asked and the answer Muhammad bin Salman gave struck me as peculiar:

" ... Did you not unfairly escalate tensions by breaking off diplomatic relations?

On the contrary, we fear that they will be further escalated. Imagine if any Saudi diplomat, or one of their families or children are attacked in Iran. Iran’s position then will be much more difficult. So we prevented Iran from having to undergo such an embarrassment. The Saudi mission was set ablaze and the Iranian government is watching. If a child, or a diplomat, or their families are attacked, what could happen? Then we will have the real conflict and the real escalation ..."

If the English-language transcript is correct, did the deputy crown prince admit that the Saudi mission was set ablaze by people other than an Iranian mob angry at the execution of Sheikh al-Nimr? The mob could still have been able to invade embassy grounds and smash up things (and that in itself might say something about the level of embassy security on the day) but the fire could have been set by someone else.

Elsewhere the interview takes some very strange turns.

" ... You are the architect of the war in Yemen; when will it end?

First of all I’m not the architect of the Yemen operation. We are a country of institutions. The decision to proceed with the operation in Yemen, this is a decision to do with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, with the intelligence, the council of ministers, and the council of security and political affairs, and then all recommendations are submitted to His Majesty, and the decision to go forward is with His Majesty. My job as the minister of defence is to implement whatever decision his majesty has ordered. And I will submit any threats that I see. And to make preparations for any threats ..."

Being a bit self-defensive and disingenuous, aren't we? The Economist's next question included a statement that the decision to go to war was made soon after MbS became defence minister. So whose recommendation to the King was the strongest?

Posted by: Jen | Jan 7 2016 20:51 utc | 21

@9 tg.. your post mostly comes across as a pile of bullshit to me..

Posted by: james | Jan 7 2016 20:55 utc | 22

This words should be carved on his tombstone

Econom. "I see. But you can have that kind of taxation without an increase in representation?"

Prince- "Again, one thing is not related to the other. This is not a decision from the government against the people. This is the decision of Saudi Arabia. With the government that represents the people.Before any decision to reform, we work on many workshops that represent many people."

I didn't know workshops are like elections

Posted by: Kooshy | Jan 7 2016 21:12 utc | 23

Jen @21,

I don't see what you see. I agree he is being self-defensive and disingenous, but don't see how this "The Saudi mission was set ablaze and the Iranian government is watching." means someone other than the crowd torched it. Not to say thats not what ultimately happened. Or have I misinterpreted what you meant?

Posted by: sillybill | Jan 7 2016 21:14 utc | 24

@9, your points are pure hasbara-universal-edition101:

1) everybody's doing it, chill out
2) yes...but, I'm not saying he's not a monster, but I'm saying he's not a monster.

Posted by: ruralito | Jan 7 2016 21:15 utc | 25

How's he going to increase non-oil revenues? Sell sand? That's about the only other thing KSA has. Or maybe he can sublet executions. With all the trouble the US has with executions they can just ship their victims to our ally in headchop land.

Posted by: Jim Mooney | Jan 7 2016 21:33 utc | 26

jo6pac says:

The house of saud is dying faster than Amerika and that saying something

In 2004, Prince Nayef bin Fawwaz Al Shalaan was indicted in the United States and France for his involvement in a drug-dealing operation between South America and Europe, a scheme to smuggle 2,000 kilos of cocaine aboard his private Boeing 727, and then launder the money through his private bank, the Kanz Bank.

long story short. he gets busted, but gets back to The Kingdom where there's no extradition treaty between USA/France and Saudi Arabia.

Prince Nayef bin Fawwaz Al Shalaan remains in hiding, but his Colombian cohort claimed in court that when he asked the prince why he wanted to smuggle drugs, the prince replied:

The world is already doomed. [I’ve been] authorized by God to sell drugs

Posted by: john | Jan 7 2016 21:38 utc | 27

It turns out the guy wants to do a "Thatcher revolution for Saudi Arabia" with new regressive taxes, a large sell off of public assets, privatization of social services and so on. - b.

Many of those who tried that kind of ‘appeasement’ moves, or ‘opening up of the economy’, ‘liberalisation’, or ‘moving to modernity’ or whatever one wants to call it, are blasted off the map.

It shows weakness, so provokes more aggression, the capitulation is never enough. See, in various ways (all differ) Milosevic (buddy of Kissinger way back), Saddam, Kadafi, Assad, even Yanukovitch.

Of course underground or blatant challenges to the petro dollar were a huge factor, but that doesn't apply to KSA which is solidly a US ally for now.

The interior situation in KSA is held together by oppression, strict control by state goons via ‘religion’, ‘tradition’ and the black gold revenues that allow the payment of semi-decent money and pay-offs, in a typical trickle-down feudal cum mafia-type authoritarian scheme. From the Grand Princess to the Great Guy, to the Accountant, to the Servant, to the …etc.

With the oil revenues sinking, and not covering the budget (though there is plenty of leeway still), the new, inexperienced nutters, fall into an old, old trap.

Somehow, ‘reform’ must ‘work’ - they don’t recognize, grasp, the system that keeps them in power, rich, and alive. Ex. The switching of employment to Saudis by tossing out cheap labor foreignors has been tried *many* times and did not work.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 7 2016 21:45 utc | 28


Posted by: Neretva'43 | Jan 7 2016 21:49 utc | 29

In essence KSA, UAE financing Zionist settler state and the US "aid". I hope that by doom of KSA the house of cards will fall apart.

Posted by: Neretva'43 | Jan 7 2016 21:54 utc | 30

too bad this buffoon can't take a 'made in the usa' cluster bomb up his ass, instead of sending them to the innocent people of yemen..

Posted by: james | Jan 7 2016 22:34 utc | 31

The Crown Prince sounds positively Western in this interview even secular, without even one Insha'Allah and no Stoned Devil reference.

This shows clearly why al-Qaeda and the Islamic State despise the House of Saud and their Western shirk tendencies.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jan 7 2016 23:19 utc | 32

@28 noirette

I think you're right about the Saudis trying to 'please' the people with the big sticks, and the hopelessness of that task ...

The interior situation in KSA is held together by oppression, strict control by state goons via ‘religion’, ‘tradition’ and the ... revenues that allow the payment of semi-decent money and pay-offs, in a typical trickle-down feudal cum mafia-type authoritarian scheme. From the Grand Princess to the Great Guy, to the Accountant, to the Servant, to the etc. ... Somehow, ‘reform’ must ‘work’ - they don’t recognize, grasp, the system that keeps them in power, rich, and alive. ...

These are the symtoms of top-down, paternalistic regimes in general but of the monarchic disease in particular.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 7 2016 23:27 utc | 33

@26 Jim Moody: Oh let's see... Gun running, human trafficking, slavery. I'm sure they'll find some way to diversify.

Posted by: yellowsnapdragon | Jan 7 2016 23:29 utc | 34

Thanks b, this really says it all about the extent to which Arabia is wholly owned by the Royal Family. Its archaic - one wouldn't think that in the 21st century, any country larger than a postage stamp would be ruled in such a way, but it is the legacy of Imperialism. The UK started carving off the oil rich portions of the Middle Eastern states long ago, and imposing royal police states on them. The US continues the tradition.

I found this very interesting: Saudi Arabia considers selling Aramco share. So here we have the Royal family selling that which surely does not belong to them but to the citizens of Arabia, to Western royalty - the transnational corporations.

This is economic injustice to the highest degree, and there should be a protest and revolution to prevent it. When the people of Arabia start to have the food taken out of their mouths, surely they'll replace it with revolutionary slogans.

This interview sounds like a throw back to Marie Antoinette. And we should all pray that he meets her fate.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 8 2016 0:19 utc | 35

He only got his position by being the son of his Dad's favorite concubine-- not exactly a competent qualification to run a country.

It's a good thing the US military let us know thru Seymour Hersh that they are really against ISIS winning [sarcasm]:

FARS - 1/7/16
TEHRAN (FNA)- Representative of Iraq's State of Law Coalition at the parliament Awatif Naima revealed that the recent US heliborne operations in Huweija, Kirkuk province, was a plot to help the ISIL terrorists. "The American forces have recently expanded their heliborne operations in Huweija, Beiji and Sharqat in the Northern parts of Salahuddin province with the goal of assisting the ISIL terrorist group," Naima said in a press conference.

He said that the Iraqi army, security and volunteer (Hashd al-Shaabi) forces have witnessed repeated dropping of foodstuff and arms packages by the US aircraft to the ISIL terrorists.

The US and some other coalition members have been supplying arms to different actors in Iraq.

During the past few years, Iraqi officials have on different occasions blasted the US and its allies for supplying the ISIL in Syria with arms and ammunition under the pretext of fighting the Takfiri terrorist group.

Posted by: Penelope | Jan 8 2016 0:36 utc | 36

@35 guest

Sell off ARAMCO? What does Goldman Sachs - or whoever is advizing the princeling - have in mind? Saudi Arabia seems the sick man of the Middle East ... well, right up there with the sick man in his traditional digs, in Turkey. The TNCs are sharpening their knives, talk of spheres of influence can no doubt be heard in board rooms, in conversations between Board Chairmen, CEOs, Prime Ministers, Presidents, and of course with the admiral of their flagship, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 8 2016 0:59 utc | 37

Underclass in KSA. Vid, by an independent (later arrested for making it), extract 9 mins. about poverty in KSA may have been missed. Employment isn’t even a topic, there is no work - crummy housing, crowds of children, debt, drugs, prostitution, slums.

This vid (26 mins, BBC, apologies for linking to such a questionable source! - post better if) from 2014 gives some info. about Shia protests (Arab spring style) in KSA. Al-Nimr vociferating (in 2012), also shows where when he was shot but survived to be later arrested, imprisoned. (Now executed.)

The poor in KSA are amongst the most oppressed in the world. Fear, isolation, lack of health care, schooling, the treatment of women, half the population after all. Alll dependent, no work, no possibility of change.

Extra remark. All statistics about demography, health, life-span, child mortality, hunger, schooling, poverty, coming from KSA, are dodgy, cherry-picked on some shaky base, or straight-out made up. How can one know that? Because they are all contradictory, don’t make sense. The nos. are just cobbled together to suit the occasion.. KSA is a US ally.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 8 2016 1:06 utc | 38

The ego has landed. The clown is strong with this one. No chance of success on any level with shit for brains here. None. Not that there there is really any more merit in leaders of supposed democratic countries lately...

In any case, cultures are not expected to change you have extremely powerful unelected representatives praising other extremely powerful unelected representatives for doing three fifths of f**k all - and from a powerful woman at that. Well done sister - women in KSA are still pretty much classed as flora and fauna.

Probably one of the Top 3 lowlights for women on the international stage in 2015.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde pays tribute to the late Saudi King Abdullah - he was 'an advocate of women'
Friday Jan 23 2015

Posted by: MadMax2 | Jan 8 2016 1:14 utc | 39

@38 To be honest it's hard to feel much sympathy for 'Abu Mansour' and his two wives and his 11 children and his broken bed. He might be better off buying some condoms.

Posted by: dh | Jan 8 2016 1:28 utc | 40

This will be fun to watch, pass the popcorn please. This dude lives in La-La land. Just like the majority of America.

Posted by: ben | Jan 8 2016 1:49 utc | 41

10 Million guest workers to be replaced by a newly created ethnic Saudi "underclass".
No more "pension",subsidized prices,gratis housing, car,& no more fancy clothes.
Line-ups for "domestic/manual" jobs, the luckiest working for higher placed 4th cousins.
I smell an un-civil war.

Posted by: mot | Jan 8 2016 1:55 utc | 42

Very funny, indeed... "We do not expect that our unemployment will grow, we believe it will decline over the next few years, to a good extent." Maybe he plans to give all those unemployed Saudis jobs rebuilding Yemen...

Posted by: GoraDiva | Jan 8 2016 1:57 utc | 43


He only got his position by being the son of his Dad's favorite concubine-- not exactly a competent qualification to run a country.

That's a good one, Penelope, but he's not the only one, the entire Saudi government is run by bastard children of several wives and concubines. And they are all war criminals, mental retards, SOBs, buffoons, gun-runners, slave traders, human traffickers, drank the kool-aid, and all the other epithets posters can rain on them and more, but that is not the issue.

What's truly flabbergasting is how the Western powers can interface with these beasts, legitimize them before the world, support their crimes and elect them to head the UN Human Rights Council, cover the carnage unleashed upon the Yemeni people, fly their flags at half-mast when the main war criminal dies, and keep their business as usual trade of weapons, oil, and most everything else without issuing an iota of criticism, or their weaponized "human rights violations" reports they use with Russia, China, Iran, et al. That's the core of the issue, not the fucking Saudi circus.

Thanks b for introducing us to the Saudi Yo-Yo debt-to-GDP prince. What a clown.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jan 8 2016 2:10 utc | 44

@44 Flabbergasting?
LW where is your usual pragmatism? What does one do when in front of his dealer when so hopelessly addicted to what that dealer pushes? He kneels & submit.

Posted by: Lozion | Jan 8 2016 2:30 utc | 45


@9 tg.. your post mostly comes across as a pile of bullshit to me..

I second that. It stinks to high heaven...



@9, your points are pure hasbara-universal-edition101:

1) everybody's doing it, chill out
2) yes...but, I'm not saying he's not a monster, but I'm saying he's not a monster.

Hyperbolic "moral equivalence" topped with a thin layer of logical fallacy. A poor hasbara job, he must be on training.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jan 8 2016 2:32 utc | 46


@9 tg.. your post mostly comes across as a pile of bullshit to me..

I second that. It stinks to high heaven...



@9, your points are pure hasbara-universal-edition101:

1) everybody's doing it, chill out
2) yes...but, I'm not saying he's not a monster, but I'm saying he's not a monster.

Hyperbolic "moral equivalence" topped with a thin layer of logical fallacy. A poor hasbara job, he must be on training.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jan 8 2016 2:36 utc | 47


He kneels & submit.

Point taken. But then, you might want to say, nicely, "he kneels and imbibes..." ;-)

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jan 8 2016 2:43 utc | 48

Indeed! I'd much prefer humanity be addicted to solar energy so we'd "lie down and soak it up" :) but alas until we get off the oil tit I'm afraid we'll continue to have plenty of geopolitical material to discuss..

Posted by: Lozion | Jan 8 2016 3:20 utc | 49

"Weaponized human rights violations". Heheh. Weaponized democracy, weaponized free trade, weaponized peace deals. US does it all.

On another note, if someone is whispering to Salman that austerity is the way forward for the Kingdom, someone does not have KSA's interests at heart. On the other hand, if the Saud family came up with austerity on their own, well, you can't fix that kind of stupid.

Posted by: yellowsnapdrgon | Jan 8 2016 3:23 utc | 50

When Privatization fails - the cow eventually milked to death - the privateer doesn't want it anymore. If the entity provided a "necessary public service", then the gubmint must reacquire (buy) that entity (providing one more profit opportunity for Jeb!).

Air Traffic Control? Who needs it?

Posted by: fast freddy | Jan 8 2016 3:25 utc | 51

If the US only strung along Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the others to get entangled in a proxy war with Iran with no end in sight, it would not be the first time. Remember Iran-Iraq. A war on multiple fronts and a lifting of sanctions would encourage Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia to flood the world with oil.

Posted by: Les | Jan 8 2016 4:36 utc | 52

Silly Bill @ 24

No you haven't misinterpreted what I said. But the transcript of the interview reads very strangely. I admit I could be seeing too much into what MbS said about the Saudi embassy fire. Probably best to keep an open mind and see what develops over the next few days. It is very odd though that a mob was able to storm the embassy and wreck it. Surely in the first place the embassy should have had adequate security to at least stop people from entering the grounds or should have been able to call for help from Iranian authorities?

Posted by: Jen | Jan 8 2016 4:49 utc | 53


I didn't see any real austerity in the CP's statements, no increase in income tax and even the removal of the fuel subsidy was counteracted by targeted relief to the 20% who actually need it. The rest was ways to gain money needed to cover the loses from lower oil prices for the next few years.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jan 8 2016 4:52 utc | 54

Washington’s Multi-Million-Dollar Saudi PR Machine

Posted by: virgile | Jan 8 2016 5:00 utc | 55

It seems to me that this attempt to turn Saudi Arabia into an austerity packing pile of neo-liberal dogshit, without even having spent a decade as a set up to fail ersatz socialist state is proof that Salman is just like his predecessors. He claims to be the big bossfella of KSA, but is in fact merely the puppet dancing to the USuk tune.

The KSA decision to pump more oil which was made inspite of the rest of OPEC not wanting it, has as most of us predicted, sent KSA down the gurgler.

The only winner is amerika who are now getting hydrocarbons cheaper than they were pre Gulf War 1. Fracking is irrelevant since a) at less than $30/barrel fracking is uneconomic and shale oil may give amerika short term relief but the quantities simply aren't sufficient to effect world prices,

So why would Salman push his own economy into near bankruptcy if he really had any choice in the matter?

It makes no sense and when thinking about what has happened to oil it is germane to consider how western monopolies have managed the world's diamond market to understand the best way to maximise returns.

Diamonds are a virtually useless resource yet diamond prices have remained high even though a number of competing sources for diamonds have come on stream in the last few decades.
Why, how? because diamond source states know they have a finite resource and the best way to maximise return is to ensure demand always exceeds supply, even if that means building bigger and bigger vaults far away from the countries where the diamonds are extracted, then keeping the faucet tight on the trickle allowed onto the market.

Salman has been doing the opposite of that since he attained power, he has been increasing oil supply so that now oil supply outstrips demand, causing his governments coffers to run dry.

It makes no sense - the only two scenarios that work are that the man is a fool and has fallen for the old "Yep we'll let an unwhite muslim sit at the top table if you do this for us Sally" or b) Old King Sally doesn't even have the power to take a shit without approval from the amerikan ambassador.

The amerikans may be happy right now - oceans of cheap energy sold through USuk corporations permits amerika to act like its 1951 all over again, but that cannot last.
Even if Sally manages to keep the lid on his own people (a highly unlikely scenario given the fact that even minor Saudi insurrections in 1964 and 2003 required outside assistance from uk then amerika to quell them), many of the other opec members who don't want to go bankrupt for barack, regard the Saudi firesale as tantamount to an act of war.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 8 2016 5:32 utc | 56

This was the most awesome post, cuz this pendejo really thinks that things will go his way, just as he planned them. I can't wait for them to blow up in his face.

Posted by: Fernando | Jan 8 2016 7:53 utc | 57

@55 debs is dead.. thanks.. obviously option b) is the one at work here.. things are unraveling here a bit quicker then even i thought..

Posted by: james | Jan 8 2016 8:51 utc | 58

Well, the country is named after Gramps.

Posted by: Patrick Armstrong | Jan 8 2016 13:16 utc | 59

re 58. The Al Saud name goes back further than Gramps. 18th century.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2016 13:32 utc | 60

With everyone suddenly experiencing an epiphany on the utter corruption of the KSA regime, attention may next turn to the regime in the USA, which has played a role in Ukraine analogous to the Saudi role in Syriaq, although while not without its physical component, the damage is more purely financial in Ukraine. Grand Larceny. Robert Parry has an excellent article on the filty dealings of the Americans and Kiev. Reality Peeks Through in Ukraine

Then, there is the case of Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who is regarded by top American columnists as the face of Ukraine’s reform. Indeed, a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month by Stephen Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, hailed Jaresko as “a tough reformer” whose painful plans include imposing a 20 percent “flat tax” on Ukrainians (a favorite nostrum of the American Right which despises a progressive tax structure that charges the rich at a higher rate).

Sestanovich noted that hedge-fund billionaire George Soros, who has made a fortune by speculating in foreign currencies, has endorsed Jaresko’s plan but that it is opposed by some key parliamentarians who favor a “populist” alternative that Sestanovich says “will cut rates, explode the deficit, and kiss IMF money good-bye.”

Yet, Jaresko is hardly a paragon of reform. Prior to getting instant Ukrainian citizenship and becoming Finance Minister in December 2014, she was a former U.S. diplomat who had been entrusted to run a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-funded program to help jump-start an investment economy in Ukraine and Moldova.

Jaresko’s compensation was capped at $150,000 a year, a salary that many Americans would envy, but it was not enough for her. So, she engaged in a variety of maneuvers to evade the cap and enrich herself by claiming millions of dollars in bonuses and fees.

Ultimately, Jaresko was collecting more than $2 million a year after she shifted management of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF) to her own private company, Horizon Capital, and arranged to get lucrative bonuses when selling off investments, even as the overall WNISEF fund was losing money, according to official records.

For instance, Jaresko collected $1.77 million in bonuses in 2013, according to WNISEF’s latest available filing with the Internal Revenue Service. In her financial disclosure forms with the Ukrainian government, she reported earning $2.66 million in 2013 and $2.05 million in 2014, thus amassing a sizeable personal fortune while investing U.S. taxpayers’ money supposedly to benefit the Ukrainian people.

It didn’t matter that WNISEF continued to hemorrhage money, shrinking from its original $150 million to $89.8 million in the 2013 tax year, according to the IRS filing. WNISEF reported that the bonuses to Jaresko and other corporate officers were based on “successful” exits from some investments even if the overall fund was losing money.

There's more on the Biden/Kerry skim/scam as well. The American role in Ukraine is reminiscent of the American role in Russia in the 1990s. I believe it was Somebody who left a link to HOW HARVARD LOST RUSSIA.

The neolibracons are really nothing, deep down, but a gang of grifters and grafters. They seen their chances and they took 'em.

They are, in the immoral words of Ronald Raygun, the moral equivalent of Saudi Arabia's Founding Fathers.

Will this be the year in which not only the 'moral' pretensions of the Saudi Salafists but also those of the/us larcenous, nihilist Americans as well, are both finally acknowledged at all levels by all peoples all around the globe?

Posted by: jfl | Jan 8 2016 14:11 utc | 61

55;How come we are still paying a buck more a gallon today if the prices are lower?Before the moron invaded Iraq we paid $1.30 per gal and now its $2.20 or so.Definite climbdown from 4 bucks post Iraq

Posted by: dahoit | Jan 8 2016 14:50 utc | 62

I guess we still get screwed.The Saudis lower the price(forUS) to hurt Russia,Iran and Venezuela,and find themselves behind the 8 ball.Idiots.
Those lower prices sure seem to have paid off in Venezuela eh?

Posted by: dahoit | Jan 8 2016 14:52 utc | 63

"The western commentators are convinced that Saudi Arabia is ratcheting up tensions with Iran with a view to accentuate further the Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian divide in the Muslim world and rally Sunni Muslim countries under its leadership. If so, the ploy isn’t working. "
says Bhadrakumar in his post about the same interview.
For once i disagree. The move by Gulf countris who immediately followed lead in severing diplomatic relations with Iran indicate some coming moves such as the famous GCC integration on some sort of -doomed- EU model, which has been on the table for decades (with the potential inclusion of Yemen, as in the past; if included it would be a "smart move" towards annexation, just as what has been done in 2011 when Qatar was allowed to sell Libyan oil).

Posted by: Mina | Jan 8 2016 15:25 utc | 64


R&U Videos provides a daily summary of the Syrian battleground from different fronts, naming the myriad gangs (they use that term) fighting the Syrian government. From the little you can see in the videos, most of these gangs are a ragtag bunch of riffraff without any military tactics. Clearly they have received some training and taught the use of weapons, or have been trained on the go, but besides their numbers they are not a serious opponent for any professional, well-trained army.

They all bunch up, exposing the group to be hit by artillery or airstrikes, argue about their next move when attacking or defending, showing there is no clear chain of command, that while yelling "Allahu Akbar" at all times, announcing their location for miles around. When using suppressive fire, they don't "shoot, scoot and communicate," basic infantry tactic, they go back to the same place again and again, and you can see when s.o. gets shot, even though they cut the video right then and there. All the SAA soldiers have to do is set their cross-hairs on the last point they showed up, and shoot.

On another note, their use of ammunition is nauseating, it is clear someone is running an endless supply of ammo they don't have to worry about wasting it. How different from the Vietnamese, who used to train their guerrilla soldiers in the use of weapons without shooting one bullet/rocket, conservation was key to their fighting. They keep on shooting from above their heads or hidden in corners for long periods of time, not bothering to learn if the enemy has already moved and is enveloping their flank or coming at them from behind.

The entire group dynamic is that of a macho-men ragtag bunch high on Captagon/Cocaine hellbent on destroying Syria, not winning the war.

Here you have some samples to whet your appetite.

Battles for Syria | January 7th 2016

Battles for Syria | January 6th 2016

Battles for Syria | January 5th 2016


Warning: Beware of graphic and potentially disturbing images.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jan 8 2016 15:56 utc | 65

The move by Gulf countris who immediately followed lead in severing diplomatic relations with Iran indicate some coming moves such as the famous GCC integration on some sort of -doomed- EU model,
Really? Are they too young to have heard of the UAR? How long did that last (you should know better than me) - two or three years?

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2016 15:56 utc | 66

at dh 40. I don’t feel sorry for him either. But that is what you get in conditions like that.

KSA has about 20 million Saudi inhabitants, plus 9-10m. foreignors, almost all single workers. The below article, NYT, Feb. 2015, which describes the money that lunatic *King* Salman tossed to the ppl to gain favor, states the Saudi workforce is 5.5 million (that no. excludes foreignors obviously, and is the no. in work, the NYT will report nos. that are correct but spin it all) with 3m. working for the Gvmt. The population of KSA is young, high birth rate, maybe about 50% are under 20, 21 (estimates vary) - still that makes for a very low labor participation rate.

Briefly, oil revenues are distributed to just enough Saudis, the high Gvmt. salaries are trickled-down, granpas, cousins, several wives, maids, and so on are supported by them, houses can be bought, etc., which creates a dependency mechanism thru personal relations to the Rulers, aka the Royals. Keeping women out of the workforce (actually quite a few do work, but only with permission from on high and in the household) is part of the same strategy: the women, the children, elderly, thus become dependent on the men, who are dependent on the Royals, > oil revenues, etc.

As all this costs a megaton of moolah, a consequent part of the Saudi population is kept dumbed down on minimal life support - the trick is of course to pay enough to some to suppress the rest (slaves, foreign workers, wives, etc.), and see to it that nothing goes out of control, no unrest can erupt.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 8 2016 16:28 utc | 67

I am sure WoWaste will find a way to discredit/dismiss the OPWC report as biased, bought-out by Assad, or something else. His creativity for innuendo/slander knows no limits.

OPWC report: rebels used chemical weapons – not Assad

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC) has confirmed the traces of the sarin gas used in Syria are not linked with the Syrian government’s former stockpile of chemical weapons. The report corroborates the Syrian government’s assertions that the faction responsible for the chemical attack, as well as 11 other instances of chemical weapons use, was the Syrian opposition.

The report also substantiates last month’s claims from Ahmed al-Gaddafi al-Qahsi, cousin of Muammar Gaddafi, who said that the chemical weapons used in the incident had been stolen from Libya and later smuggled into Syria via Turkey by militants.

The announcement follows an investigation carried out by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at the request of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government.

“In one instance, analysis of some blood samples indicates that individuals were at some point exposed to sarin or a sarin-like substance” said Ahmet Uzumcu, the head of the OPCW. He later added that the sarin gas examined bore different characteristics to the one formerly owned by the Syrian government.

When the devastating sarin gas incident left some 1400 civilians dead in East Ghouta in 2013, the United States, European Union and Arab League were quick to accuse Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian military of utilizing its chemical weapons to combat Islamist rebels in the Syrian capital.

Subsequently, the Syrian government agreed with Russia and the US administration to have its stockpile safely demolished in Norway. Less than a month ago, it was announced that the entirety of the chemical stockpile had been safely disposed of.

Prior to the 2013 attack, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that the Syrian Army had seized chemical gas equipment from a militant field hospital in the western port city of Latakia. It cited a field commander stating that the nature of the equipment suggested militants had been planning to carry out chemical or biological attacks and blame the government.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jan 8 2016 17:16 utc | 68


The Saudis are maintaining their high levels of oil production to delay the further development of US tight oil that created the glut in the world market and along with a slowing world economy crashed oil prices They are also locking in their market share so when oil prices recover they will keep those markets.

The defeat of the PSUV in Venezuela may have been hastened by low oil prices but the problems and failures of the revolution were festering before the oil price crash. This is an opportunity for supporters of the revolution and the PSUV to purge the corruption and other problems that undermined the revolution and move forward.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jan 8 2016 17:27 utc | 69


Posted by: Mina | Jan 8 2016 17:46 utc | 70

It is doubtful that this dude will die of old age

i don't know, b, these fuckers usually do die of old age, in the lap of luxury, with the best healthcare money can buy.

Posted by: john | Jan 8 2016 17:50 utc | 71

ha ha, john 71. I get your point but this particular dude is of a level of stupidity and out-of-control hubris that is truly mind-boggling; and he shows no sense of self-awareness or savvy generally (one can pretend to be idiotic); also all this has to do with fights amongst the Royals, imho his status is a outcome of desperation - which will certainly all turn out badly for him.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 9 2016 16:37 utc | 72

Noirette @ 72

and i get your, and b's, point as well, i mean, i wouldn't bet real money on his longevity either, but when you're in this club, you tend to live to a ripe old age, n'est-ce pas?

Posted by: john | Jan 9 2016 17:26 utc | 73


I think I recognized you as one of the firebomber Basij in the pictures of the attack on the KSA embassy in Tehran, glad to see you escaped.

I'm sure some rubes besides yourself believe the BS published by Almasdar is 'News' but it falls apart under the simplest scrutiny. The OPWC report compared the sarin samples to other samples collected and concluded they were similar or the same but I don't think they mentioned having samples of Assad's sarin for comparison.

The Libya source fable only works if Libya had sarin which they didn't only mustard gas and the precursor chemicals for sarin not the final product.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jan 9 2016 19:06 utc | 74

@74 wow... where up is down and down is up.. as a manufacturer of bullshit, whatever you say about something - it is typically just the opposite!! keep on cheering for the exceptional empire... how do you like how they have turned libya into another nightmare with isis as the replacement? this is what the exceptional empire is known for and you my crazy ass friend - are all a okay with it... thanks for the laugh..

Posted by: james | Jan 9 2016 19:31 utc | 75

@ james | Jan 9, 2016 2:31:28 PM | 75

Your appreciation of the humour of WoW; pretending the gravitas of a Sun Tzu; almost achieving a level of a Sun Tan; while dreaming the dreams of a Moon Beam; and mangling the mush of either WaPo or NYT. What's not to enjoy.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Jan 9 2016 21:55 utc | 76

This moron will be remembered in history as a war criminal and the man who involuntarily killed the saudi dictatoship...

Posted by: guy | Jan 11 2016 4:25 utc | 77

thank you for sharing

Posted by: طراحی سایت | Jan 26 2016 9:01 utc | 78

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