Weekly Geopolitical Report – Moving Fast and Breaking Things: Mohammad bin Salman, Part II (December 4, 2017)
by Bill O’Grady
Two weeks ago, we introduced this report and covered the mass arrests that took place in Saudi Arabia over the weekend of November 4, when several princes and notable figures were detained. The official reason given for the arrests was corruption, but many have speculated that the move was a cover for Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) to consolidate power and purge elements of a potential coup. And, just before that weekend, there was a crackdown on the religious establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). This week, we will discuss the other three events that occurred that weekend: the resignation of Saad Hariri, the missile attack on Riyadh and the crackdown on the clerics.
The Long Weekend: The Resignation
The arrests discussed in Part I would have been enough for a full weekend, but that was not all that occurred. Saad Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon and the son of the late Lebanese political leader Rafic, was summoned to Riyadh by King Salman on Thursday night, November 2. He was asked to meet with MbS on Saturday. The Hariri family has close ties to the KSA so the request was not unusual. However, when he arrived at the palace on Saturday morning, he was made to wait four hours and then presented with a resignation speech to read on television. In the speech, he cited an assassination attempt by Hezbollah and Iranian interference for his decision to resign. It appears Hariri was under house arrest in Saudi Arabia, although there are conflicting reports on this allegation. It seems that MbS has concluded that Hariri was too accommodating to Hezbollah and Iran, and wanted a new prime minister who would more strongly oppose Iran’s actions in Lebanon.