“Perhaps it is lonely at the top. perhaps as he moves through his days in his palaces, in the Royal Court, and on his yacht in the Red Sea overlooking the barren sands where he hopes NEOM will rise, he meets few people with the courage to blunt his more destructive impulses or an incentive to tell him that a beach with glow-in-the-dark sand is less crucial to Saudi Arabia’s future than investments in peace, education and the rule of law.”
maniac. the proverbial dictator & near-perfect “Bond villain” with staunch “psychopath” credentials, set in stone. computer games & cyber fantasy coalesce with despotism, “absolute power”, ruthless political purgings & stifling surveillance-state thought policing powered by advanced technological intrusion. absolute rule by an absolute psycho.
“The Saudi’s mass-casualty airstrikes had grown less frequent, but in August, the Kingdom bombed a bus full of students on a field trip, killing fifty-four people, including forty-four children.”
The Crown Prince spends a lot of time on his “superyacht” on the Red Sea. when Donald Trump wants a chat with his good buddy, someone from the U.S. diplomatic circle flys out to provide a confidential & secure device for MBS to communicate with the White House. his regular communication with Jared Kushner (Trump’s son in law & advisor) is all through non-government encrypted channels, shrouded in secrecy. MBS is a big admirer of Margaret Thatcher. “He always enjoyed talking about the Iron Lady and how she enhanced the economic system of Great Britain.” He is married to one of his cousins. he clearly takes great afflatus from Silicon Valley & it’s many technological “success stories” & the now fantastically rich & influential cyber celebrities & entrepreneurs that dominate the tech sphere. in his own words – “I have elements that are much more than what Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates had. if i work according to their methods, what will i create? all of this was in my head since i was young.” this is how MBS self-defines. others have drawn very different conclusions. – “He is a psycho. he has spite. he wants to break people. he doesn’t want anybody to have an honorable name but him. He is a devil, and the devil is learning from him.”
“MBS was an imaginative futurist, with a virtually unlimited budget and an army of consultants who were well paid to make his dreams come true. His plans for NEOM got bigger and stranger. To cut the desert heat, cloud seeding could make it rain. Scientists could modify the human genome to make people smarter and stronger. Mechanical dinosaurs could populate a Jurassic Park-like attraction. Robotic gladiators could spar for entertainment. at night, a fleet of drones would hoist a giant, artificial moon in the sky. A beach would feature glow-in-the-dark sand.”
that’s “NEOM”. MBS’s intended $500 billion cyber city & “civilization leap for humanity” that will be a place for “dreamers“. it is a thin thread between dream & nightmare…depending on who is wielding the bone-saw.
chopping off heads in public (37 in a day). hey! Sharia Saudi Arabia has quite a reputation. under the recent & dramatic emergence of MBS as the “de facto ruler”, the body-count, brutality & tyranny have all ballooned – all whilst a keen & exerted PR offensive for “modernization”, including some reforms, has run simultaneously. “Sportswashing”, buying stakes in foreign media, “Davos in the Desert”, “Vision 2030”, tours of Silicon Valley & even booking Niki Minaj to come & booty-pop live in Riyadh (she later, & quite honorably, pulled her performance on political grounds), opening up to tourism & a blitz of cultural & commercial “event” hosting & business luring have all ensued. The first foreign country Trump visited after his inauguration was Saudi Arabia, which is funny, as he had repeatedly accused them of being responsible for the WTO terrorist attacks of 9/11. anyway, they made it lucrative for him personally & struck a “deal,” so he forgot all about that & now protects them at all costs, even when they butcher, dismember & “disappear” a high-profile US citizen & journalist, Jamal Khashoggi after personally assuring him of his safety. cash is king. responsibility? consequences? well, as David Cameron said during the Thai fishing ships slavery scandal (where cheap seafood produced with astonishing brutality & forced labour was found in the UK food supply chain) – it is all down to “the consumer” to make personal choices based on their personal ethical considerations.
then of course there is the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton incident, the shocking gambit, coup & preamble to takeover that cemented MBS’s power grab. secret police swooped & abruptly “rounded up” hundreds of Saudi’s most powerful, moneyed & influential men, a contingent that also included royals. they were imprisoned in the Ritz-Carlton hotel & had all their communications confiscated. they were “coerced” into pledging allegiance to MBS & also handing over most of there fortunes. many were tortured. at least one died whilst being interrogated/tortured. some were allowed to leave the Ritz after “compliance” into house arrest. only a small amount have been “released” over two years later.
the illegal war in Yemen, over five years old, & described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” by the UN; remains an ever-expanding catastrophe & mammoth infliction of major instability in the region. it is a horrible, pointless, worthless, idiotic, dirty & gruesome conflict of folly & idiocy, bulging with war crimes & terror – all supported by the baby killers in Washington, Britain & France who continue to sell arms to these affluent extremists & wealthy terrorists. an absolute stain on the world….despicable beyond all description, criminal in the abject & utterly’ utterly unforgivable. none of Saudi’s core objectives have been reached. death – waste – corruption.
“in the meantime, his airforce has continued to kill civilians as the country shatters into ever smaller pieces that may never fit back together. MBS did not start the war, & the Houthis are no peacemakers, but the Saudi’s callous tactics and inability to change strategy in the face of failure have invited Iran in and fueled great suffering that will not soon be forgotten.”
MBS loves dashing around the US on all access diplomatic & business sprees, linking up with Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates, a private evening with host Rupert Murdoch in Bell-Air & undergoing an interview for The Atlantic magazine with ex-IDF journalist Jeffery Goldberg, telling him that “I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good.” He went even further – “While in New York, MBS had an off the books meeting with pro-Israel American Jewish Leaders. The Americans were sworn to silence over the discussion” but in Trump’s own words -“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the intersts of our country [JASTA],” – “Very simply it is called America First!”. The colour of money.
Ben Hubbard has been reporting on the Middle East for the New York Times from Beirut for some years. he is fluent in Arabic, something that many other “specialists” to western audiences on the region lack. this is the first book on MBS – & he has done a remarkably fine job with a broad bundle of highly valuable material & insight. The failed Qatar boycott & isolation maneuver, the execution, body vanishing & severely botched cover-up of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Ritz-Carlton mass internment, kidnapping Lebanon’s prime minister, the war in Yemen, the madness of NEOM & the filthy & secretive relations with the Trump administration are all here. the one major flaw or omission in MBS is its lack of coverage of the nuclear materials that Trump & his hellspawn have sold – on the sly – to Saudi Arabia whilst bypassing the legally required proceedings of such transfers. Seth Abramson’s incredible Proof of Conspiracy details this painstakingly. 2018’s brilliant Cold War in the Islamic World by Dilip Hiro is another indispensable compendium to this bizarre, shocking, frightening & insane “special interest exemption” that is Saudi Arabia & it’s deeply criminal & profoundly pernicious “life-line” relationship with the western world.
“I think that people cannot go around killing and cutting up journalists in this day and age, and i think if they do, everybody in the world has to make a stance against it.” – Richard Branson
Ben Hubbard, 2020, William Collins, 284 pages