By Daniel Larison

Mohammed bin Salman, regional menace

December 31, 2018 - 11:33

Hisham Melhem has written a searing denunciation of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)’s disastrous foreign policy record and his destabilizing domestic power grabs.

Here he calls out the crown prince’s responsibility for the destruction and starvation of Yemen:

But the culprit responsible in the main for condemning the country once known as Arabia Felix for an agonizing slow death is Saudi Arabia. For this reason alone, Mohammed Bin Salman should be boycotted by the democracies of the world.

The war on Yemen has been the crown prince’s signature policy, and it was the very first thing that he did after he was made defense minister by his father. The reckless decision to intervene and the stupid determination to persist in an unwinnable war told us everything we needed to know about Mohammed bin Salman’s judgment and competence a long time ago, but unfortunately it took several more years and many more outrages and crimes for a lot of people to catch on that he was a menace and a war criminal rather than a reform-minded visionary. It isn’t surprising that someone as ignorant and hapless as Jared Kushner has been taken in by Mohammed bin Salman, but what is everyone else’s excuse?

MBS has turned out to be exceptionally repressive and cruel even by Saudi standards, and in just a few years he has become one of the world’s great war criminals.Many American policymakers and politicians have downplayed and whitewashed Saudi coalition crimes in Yemen because of our government’s involvement in the disaster, and some of them are so obsessed with Iran that they have been prepared to ignore or explain away any number of atrocities as long as they can claim that opposing Iran is the goal. Mohammed bin Salman hasn’t had many successes in the last few years, but he did know which buttons to push to get credulous Western pundits, businessmen, and politicians to fawn over him as if he were Ataturk reborn. To their lasting discredit, the crown prince’s fan club were more concerned with “rooting” for his success than they were about the lives of Yemeni civilians and the rights of his many jailed, tortured, and murdered critics. Every puff piece profile of Mohammed bin Salman has been sure to mention that he permitted women to drive, but there have not been nearly as many articles talking about the torture of women’s rights activists detained by the Saudi government:

The sources say that masked Saudi interrogators tortured the women during the initial stages of interrogation, but it was unclear whether they were seeking to force the women to sign confessions or merely to punish them for their peaceful advocacy. Following the interrogations, sources said, the women showed physical signs of torture, including difficulty walking, uncontrolled shaking of the hands, and red marks and scratches on their faces and necks. At least one of the women attempted to commit suicide multiple times, the sources said.

There was never any reason to assume that Mohammed bin Salman would be an improvement over his predecessors, but there was every sign from the very beginning that he might prove to be much worse. He has turned out to be exceptionally repressive and cruel even by Saudi standards, and in just a few years he has become one of the world’s great war criminals. The U.S.-Saudi relationship was already a bad one before he came to power, and with him in power it has become truly toxic. There is no good reason for the U.S. to have close ties with a government that is both a liability and a regional menace, and the crown prince ensures that it will be both for the foreseeable future.

(Source: The American Conservative)

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