Mohammed bin Salman knows his grip on power dependent on US: Askari

TEHRAN, Oct. 08 (MNA) –Professor Hossein Askari, an expert on Saudi Arabia who also teaches international business at the George Washington University, believes that “Mohammed bin Salman knows that his grip on power and his family’s rule has been and is totally dependent on the United States.”

Hossein Askari, who teaches at George Washington University, tells the Tehran Times that “He wants only one thing—to rule Saudi Arabia and he will do anything to guarantee this. Let me repeat, ANYTHING. MBS will do as he is told by Trump and Kushner.”

Following is the text of the interview:

In his latest statement on Saudi Arabia, Trump humiliated Saudi Arabia again, and said: If America does not exist, Saudi Arabia will disappear within a few days, and Saudi Arabia owes its stability and security to the United States. In fact, Trump has made such a statement in the direction of selling security to Saudi Arabia. Why this statement has been repeated at this time?

A: First of all, Trump likes to drive home the simple point that he is boss. So Saudi Arabia better understand that and do what Trump wants. Whatever that may be: buy more US arms, pump more oil to reduce oil prices, do whatever is needed in Yemen and Syria, cooperate as needed with Israel, and above all encourage the Al-Saud tribe and other wealthy Saudis to enrich the Trump family businesses. These are things that he wants but why did he say this especially at this time may be connected to the mid-term US elections. Saudi Arabia could very easily funnel money to the election effort through US corporations that are heavily involved in Saudi Arabia. Saudis cannot by law fund US election campaigns but they can easily pad a contract to a US company with the understanding that what has been padded goes to the Republican election effort. 

Mohammad bin Salman said in response: Working with Trump is enjoyable. Why did he take such a weak position and did not even criticize Trump?

A: This is obvious. MBS knows that his grip on power and his family’s rule has been and is totally dependent on the United States. He wants only one thing—to rule Saudi Arabia and he will do anything to guarantee this. Let me repeat, ANYTHING. MBS will do as he is told by Trump and Kushner. He will enrich the Trump-Kushner family businesses and he will do whatever it takes to keep the Republicans and Trump in office. 

But I am sure that he is nervous about the day that Trump is not in office. He has tried to cover that base by getting closer to Israel. He realizes that closeness to Israel will help him no matter who is President and who controls Congress. That is his insurance policy. There is no room for the Palestinians and other Arab causes in his universe. Possibly just lip service. His family’s rule, and predominantly his rule, is all that matters.

Saudi Arabia has been relying on the United States in terms of security for many years.  And this is the reason why Saudi foreign policy is under American influence. In view of this security outsourcing by Saudis, what will be the harmful effects on their security in the long run?

A: Well, as I have already said, there are uncertainties surrounding US policies. Presidents come and go. Control of Congress changes hands. But for the moment, support from Israel gives the Al-Sauds some support, but even that cannot be counted on forever. Saudi Arabia is doing exactly what it has historically accused Qatar of doing—namely, it is acting too big for its britches. It is antagonizing Iraq and especially Iran. This is something that Iranians will not soon forget. And the day of reckoning will come when circumstances change in the Middle East and in the United States and Saudi Arabia will find itself naked. A United States that can no longer afford foreign wars, an Israel and Iran that find a measure of accommodation, an Iran and Iraq that grow ever closer and a restless Saudi population who have not had political and human rights and have not benefitted from oil depletion. His so-called reforms are in large part to change the potential outcome that I have painted here but people are not blind. He and the rest of the ruling family cannot continue their iron fist rule and to live as they do in opulence and expect the average Saudi to look the other way.

Former President Barack Obama addressed countries like Saudi Arabia that your security threat is inside your own countries and not foreign threats. In fact, Obama's reference was to human security, which includes political development, individual liberties, and so on.  However, for these countries, the security of the ruling political system (state security) is in the top priority. What kind of security in these countries is in the top priority for the United States?

Let me first underscore what President Obama said. He is absolutely correct. Dictatorships sow the seeds of their own destruction. They exaggerate the foreign threat—now days terrorism is the favorite catch all heading—buy more arms to garner foreign support of arms exporting countries, arms to use not against foreigners who do nothing but on their own people. Oppressive rulers do not entertain orderly reforms towards democratic societies because they see what is at the end of the road—no more absolute power and their preferred access to oil revenues. So they resist meaningful reforms. But they fail to see what is at the end of this road of oppressive rule—turmoil, conflict and their eventual overthrow. They enjoy the here and now and push back on the future. 

Now let me turn to your question. Unfortunately, the United States does not have the long-term interest of these countries at heart. Let me explain why. US Administrations change every four years. And sometimes radically so, such as we have seen from Obama to Trump. Presidents invariably want to have stability in the region and help American businesses. So a US President wants to sell arms and anything else he can, access to oil at a reasonable price and have stability to keep things humming along. The long-term condition of the country and its people is of secondary concern. Sure, Presidents pay lip service to human and political rights, they have to. But they will not risk stability and US exports to achieve these noble goals. This is the reality. So security in these countries for the US means no turmoil, no regime change, no damaging publicity about human rights abuses, no danger to other US interests and preservation of US business interests.

Interview by: Javad Heirannia

News Code 138484

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