Thomas Wictor

Polite reformer has already carried out his mission

Polite reformer has already carried out his mission

Every day brings me new evidence that this is the best era in which to live. The polite Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman has already transformed Saudi Arabia. It happened almost instantaneously.

Why do I call him polite? He clearly is polite, but I’m also quoting writer Robert A. Heinlein.

An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

Both Mohammed bin Salman and his father King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud have had to back up their acts with their lives. I’m amazed that the transformation of Saudi Arabia happened so quickly and with virtually no publicity.

That’s entirely due to the skills of the king and his son.

A polite revolution

Did you know about this? I didn’t.

King Salman has abandoned the balancing act by which predecessors tried to keep the Al Saud family’s various branches in harmony, and opted for rapid change that’s already ruffling some royal feathers.

In less than four months, the king has overhauled his cabinet, removed princes from government roles, merged ministries and realigned the succession. On Wednesday he appointed his son Mohammed bin Salman as second in line to the throne while Muhammad bin Nayef, the king’s nephew, was made crown prince, marking a shift in power to a younger generation.

Change in the conservative Gulf monarchy, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has typically involved inching forward. Salman spent almost five decades as the governor of Riyadh before he became king in January. Now his son, Prince Mohammed, has gone from being a little-known defense official to the third-most-powerful man in the kingdom in the space of months.


His authority grew on Friday, when he was named chairman of the 10-member supreme board of state oil firm Saudi Aramco, according to a statement on the company’s website. The Supreme Petroleum Council, which previously set oil policy and was led by the king, will be dissolved, according to the statement.

In earlier reshuffles after he ascended to the throne in January, Salman removed the heads of the national security council and intelligence services, Bandar bin Sultan and his son Khalid bin Bandar. He also changed the governors of Riyadh, Mecca and the central province of Qassim.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, one of the world’s longest-serving foreign ministers, had asked to step down for health reasons, according to official media. He was replaced by Adel Al-Jubeir, the country’s ambassador to the U.S.

“The fact that a non-family member gets a major ministry like Foreign Affairs must also raise questions among that generation of the family,” said Gregory Gause, a professor of international affairs at Texas A&M University.

“From half a year ago, when [Mohammed bin Salman] had no senior position, to now the third most powerful person in the country,” Toby Matthiesen, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge and author of “The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism,” said by phone. “That’s very unusual for Saudis, because they move very slow and gradual.”

King Salman had the power of the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) and the Royal Saudi Arabian Armed Forces (RSAAF) behind him, but neither he nor his son made a giant production of their revolution. Even men who were passed over—such as former Intelligence Director Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud—are supporting the changes.


That’s Prince Turki on the left, shaking hands with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon at the Munich Security Conference 2016.

Polite is smart

I now understand the Saudi approach to geopolitics and warfare. They never corner their opponents, and they never publicly humiliate them. I’m talking about the highest levels of the current leadership, not every individual Saudi Arabian.

There was just a ferocious battle in Syria.

Speaking to ARA News, media activist Walid al-Sheikh, based in the town of Sheikh Issa in Aleppo province, said that the Islamist factions of Ahrar al-Sham and the Levant Corps along with other Islamist groups launched a major offensive on positions for the SDF forces on the outskirts of the towns Tell Rifaat and Ain Daqna where both sides exchanged mortar shelling and local-made artillery.

Over 100 Islamists were killed. The Kurds of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Peoples’ Defense Forces (YPG) paraded the corpses through the city of Afrin on vehicle transporters. This was the reaction of the Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD) leadership.



I’ve examined the photos of the dead. Almost none were killed with bullets or fragments from artillery or mortars. There’s a near-total absence of blood and wounds. These men were killed by shock waves, indicating that they were targeted with EMPFAE ordnance.




Arab League commandos killed the Islamists.

I’m positive that somebody had a talk with the leadership of the QSD. It went something like this.

“We’re not risking the irreplaceable lives of our men so that you can act like savages. Do you understand? If anything like this ever happens again, your Marxist army of conscripted teenagers can fight off the Islamic State and its allies on their own. Is that clear?”

If the Saudis can change their entire country in four months, then the Kurds can bloody well stop doing stupid things that will undo all the hard work that’s gone into saving them.

Social media is not polite

People who know nothing take to social media and rave. It’s impossible for me to suffer fools gladly, which is reason No. 671,893 that the world is lucky that I have no power. I hate tribal vendettas. However, the people who I hate even more are outsiders who choose sides. My support of Israel and the Arab League is based on objective reality: Israel has done nothing to merit the incessant condemnation she suffers, and the Arab League is spending lives and treasure to improve the region.

But I’m not deeply in love with Israelis and Arabs. In fact there are tons of Israelis and Arabs who I despise. I haven’t personalized the wars in the Middle East the way so many imbecilic westerners have.

While users of social media fan the flames of war, western leaders playact. They recently staged this ridiculous charade.

Where to start?

For one thing, they’re wearing all their tactical gear even though they’re not on a combat mission. They want people to know they’re special operators.

This guy struts down to a truck.



Then he comes back and ostentatiously gets the lay of the land. “Yup! Everything’s comin’ along just fine!


After that he becomes a sniper.


The American pilot is given coordinates in Kurdish.


Finally a weapons depot is blown up as everyone pretends it was bombed or shelled. The wide base of the explosion proves that it was a controlled demolition, not the result of munitions.




You can see artillery or mortar rounds taking flight from the stockpile.


Even polite people snicker

Middle Easterners have a tradition of saving face. It’s not good manners to make others look foolish. But look at the Kurds and Arabs forced to take part in this performance.





You can even hear this guy laughing on the soundtrack.


Our soldiers were ordered to go out and pose for the cameras so that President Obama could say that he’s on the case. Here’s the sad reality.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday said Sunni Arab states are “frustrated and furious” at the West for a “lack of support” in dealing with Iran[.]

He also fiercely criticized the Western approach to stopping the fighting in Syria and battling the Islamic State terror group.

Referring to statements by Russia’s prime minister that the conflict constituted a new “cold war,” Ya’alon said: “For war you need two parties. There is one, very active, very proactive in the region today, Russia. On the other side, it is missing — whether it is the United States or Europe.”

The West needs a “grand strategy” and “moral clarity” and “this is absent,” he said. “I claim that you are lacking a grand strategy.”

Actually, this is our grand strategy.