Thomas Wictor

Incrementalism is how great change is made permanent

Incrementalism is how great change is made permanent

It’s official: The Saudis are remaking the Middle East. Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman gave his first press conference to foreign journalists, and he confirmed what retired Saudi General Anwar Eshki said at the Council on Foreign Relations on June 4, 2015. The key to successful change is incrementalism. You have to let people acclimate to new realities a little at a time.

Incrementalism allows for evolution

Mohammed bin Salman has fully emerged.

Saudi Arabia’s hard-charging Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman holds unusual power for a man of just 30, so much so that diplomats have nicknamed him “Mr. Everything”.


The main public figure behind Monday’s unveiling of a vast plan to restructure the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy, the son of King Salman has risen to among Saudi Arabia’s most influential figures since being named second-in-line to the throne last year.

Prince Mohammed, seen as the standard-bearer for a new generation of Saudi royals, is in charge not only of the country’s economic policy but also the military as defence minister.

Mohammed bin Salman is a study in incrementalism. He gradually and quietly became who he is today.

So what’s this vast plan to restructure the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy? Oh, nothing much.

The powerful young prince overseeing Saudi Arabia’s economy unveiled ambitious plans on Monday aimed at ending the kingdom’s “addiction” to oil and transforming it into a global investment power.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the world’s top oil exporter expects state oil company Saudi Aramco to be valued at more than $2 trillion ahead of the sale of less than 5 percent of it through an initial public offering (IPO).

He added that the kingdom would raise the capital of its public investment fund to 7 trillion riyals ($2 trillion) from 600 billion riyals ($160 billion).

The plans also included changes that would alter the social structure of the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom by pushing for women to have a bigger economic role and by offering improved status to resident expatriates.

Detractors are already scoffing. They’re idiots who will never learn a basic natural law: Always believe Mohammed bin Salman.

Incrementalism in warfare

For months we’ve been hearing about how the Saudis are “bogged down” in Yemen. There’s literally no evidence for that claim. While I wasn’t paying attention, the western world became much stupider. Or maybe it was always stupid, and I just couldn’t see it.

From the beginning, the Saudis said in plain language that their goal was not to militarily defeat the Houthis and loyalists to former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh. Instead, the Saudis wanted to restore the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and…persuade the rebels that an armed insurgency was futile. Because most of the world hates Saudis, the Yemen war became a screen upon which extremely mentally ill people projected their fantasies.


On April 24, 2016, the Saudi-led Coalition drove al-Qaeda from its stronghold Mukalla in less than a day, killing 800 terrorists in the process.

Iona Craig, a journalist who was in Mukalla last month and who said she regularly communicates with residents there, described the coalition’s claim as “ridiculous”.

“There weren’t even 800 fighters left there,” she told Al Jazeera by phone from the UK. “There was no fighting inside the city because al-Qaeda had already left.”

Craig said the only clashes she had heard of were on roads coming into Mukalla, and that air strikes on Saturday had mainly targeted places repeatedly bombed before.

I don’t even speak Arabic, but it took me thirty seconds to find this video of the assault on Mukalla.

That’s called a “thunder run.” You drive into the midst of the enemy, firing until they all die or flee. You have to have enormous, um, guts to do that.

Iona Craig is an imbecile who knows nothing about warfare. She also holds Arabs in contempt. Her views are those of a bigoted child.

The Arab League uses bigotry to its advantage over and over. Nobody expected the lightning-fast assault on Mukalla. The Coalition imperceptibly built up to it.

Incrementalism in Syria

The war in Syria is not at all what you think it is. This is supposed to be the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) fighting al-Qaeda in Latakia Governorate.

Two things: First, somebody fired an American BGM-71 TOW antitank guided missile (ATGM). Neither the SAA nor any of its allies have the TOW. You can tell a TOW from the reddish beacon on the tail, the color of which results from xenon gas. All the ATGMs used by the SAA and its allies use white incandescent bulbs as beacons.

Second, the order of the events in the video was changed, Here’s what actually happened.

Terrorists ran toward a trench position (red arrow).


A volley of high-explosive munitions hit the communication trench behind them, destroying it. I can’t identify the weapon used.




The terrorists’ escape route was now cut off. To leave the area, they’d have to expose themselves by crossing open ground.

A BGM-71 TOW missile (red arrow) was launched at a terrorist firing post (green arrow).



The missile had a fuel-air explosive (FAE) warhead.



Only Israel and the Arab League have TOW missiles with FAE warheads.

After the firing post was destroyed, two terrorists made a run for it over open ground.




They were hit with a rocket traveling too quickly to register on video.



The goal in Syria is to defeat the jihadists and overthrow Assad, not kill regular Arab conscripts. It appears that the Syrian Arab Army has fractured, and now some elements have Arab League strategic special operators embedded with them, indicating that the war has become Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, and Christians fighting against Ba’athists, Iranians, Hezbollah, Russians, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Thais.

Incrementalism in exposure

These are Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports carrying out high-velocity airdrops over al-Fu’ah, Ildib Governorate, on April 23, 2016.

High-velocity airdrops generally mean ammunition. The aircraft have no national markings.


Someone is now resupplying Arab League strategic special operators in the daytime. That tells you a lot.

The wars in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq have a billion moving parts. It takes incredible skill to manage the incrementalism needed to win them. But it also takes humility. Arab League pilots and special forces clearly asked the Israelis for help. I’m sorry to say that Americans lack the humility to do the same.

In order to warn the civilians, the pilot “put a Hellfire (missile) on top of the building and air burst it ” — detonated the explosive above the target — “so it wouldn’t destroy the building, simply knock on the roof, to ensure that [a woman] and the children were out of the building,” [Major General Peter] Gersten said.

However, after the pilot fired the first Hellfire missile as a warning, the woman “ran back into the building” and was killed in the full explosive airstrike.

This technique was first conceived and employed by the Israeli Air Force, and Gersten admitted “that is exactly where we took the procedure from,” but US coalition forces did not consult with Israel in order to learn how to carry out the “knock on the roof” technique.

“We didn’t work with them, but we have watched and observed their procedure,” Gersten said.

Israelis and the Arab League make everything look deceptively effortless, but don’t kid yourselves. These warriors trained endlessly to acquire their skills. It’s not good enough to mimic. You must learn directly from the masters.

Saudi Arabia has already changed herself and the region. The best is yet to come.