MBS Grand U.S. Tour: PR Firms Ensure Good Publicity for Saudis as President Trump Boasts of More Arms Sales to the Kingdom, Friendship with Presidential Son-in-Law Kushner
The 32-year-old Crown Prince, who successfully purged and shook down rivals in the Royal family like Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for billions of dollars, has been on something of a roll lately -- that is if you believe his slick PR. In a sit down interview with CBS News, the devastating war in Yemen and the Saudis inability to extricate themselves from the quagmire barely came up and MBS blamed (who else?) Iran for endemic Mideast warfare and terrorism, warning that his country would build a nuclear bomb if the Iranians did so (praise Allah the Persians have no intention to do so). During MBS visit to the White House, President Trump boasted about U.S. arms sales to the Kingdom, with a handy chart depicting where the weaponry is being manufactured across the USA.
But it's not all perfume and roses from America for the impetuous young prince. Pesky pseudo-alternative media outlets like The Intercept funded by a Persian-American multi-millionaire are pointing out that the Yemen war has created mass famine and a cholera epidemic. The Intercept also reported that MBS had bragged to United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed that presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner was in his back pocket. This leak concerning the Kushners came after the Kush and his younger brother were reportedly blurring the lines between presidential diplomacy and seeking Mideast bailouts for their failing Manhattan real estate ventures. Qatar and the Kingdom have been at odds for months with the Saudis trying and failing to make a commercial blockade of the fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member state and gas-rich neighbor stick.
The U.S. Senate voted on whether the U.S. should pull back its support for the Kingdom's war-making, and the measure was defeated 55-44. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). After the Senate vote, Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis met with MBS at the Pentagon and made some perfunctory remarks about seeking a peaceful negotiated end to the Yemen War. The crown prince was to head to the West Coast for meetings with Hollywood executives and Microsoft founder Bill Gates on March 30. Clearly MBS is on a shopping spree trying to make all of the various power factions among the U.S. elite -- Hollywood, Silicon Valley/Big Data, and above all the military industrial complex -- quite happy with his newly inaugurated reign on behalf of his ailing father, King Salman.
However, the once anticipated Saudi Aramco IPO was quietly scaled back this same week the petroyuan officially launched on the Shanghai Oil Futures exchange. And the Saudis are still working on the 'final stages' of their planned purchase of S400 long range air defense missile systems from Russia, which may lead to awkward requests for exemption from Congressionally mandated sanctions over buying hardware from Moscow. But the S400s can't work worse than the expensive Patriot missile systems that apparently sent an interceptor rocket into an apartment block late Sunday night/early Monday morning.
Rumors of Bolton's Big Plans for War with Hezbollah and By Extension Syria and Iran
This brings us to the topic that was on the mind of V the Guerrilla Economist and our esteemed producer CJ on Friday: war. Namely, will newly named National Security Adviser John Bolton get the war he has long advocated for against Iran? Or will President Trump content himself with tearing up the Iranian nuclear agreement, perhaps the only useful thing the Obama Administration managed during its entire eight years?
Long time RogueMoneyRadio listeners and RM website readers know that our very own intelligence insider 'W' is convinced a second Israel-Hezbollah War is gathering like a stormcloud on the horizon, with the U.S. almost certain to get directly involved. Certainly, while Bolton has flirted with dismissing the DNC hack as a Democratic false flag op, he has taken an even harder line on Russia than his resigning predecessor Gen. H.R. McMaster. However, even more so than the preemptive war he's advocated with North Korea, Iran has been John Bolton's abiding obsession since the pre-9/11 Project for a New American Century (PNAC) organization longing for their 'Pearl Harbor event' of the 1990s. What we do know is that Bolton is planning a 'purge' of 'Obama holdovers' many of whom happen to be career civil servants or ranking officers on loan to the White House national security staff from the Pentagon. Republicans supportive of the president's nominee say this will reduce the leaks to the mainstream media that had become endemic under McMaster.
We also know that the United States military and multiple NATO allies recently wrapped up a military exercise in the eastern Mediterranean, that simulated them providing major logistical if not fire support during a war waged by the Zionist State on three fronts: Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and with Hamas in Gaza. Moscow may have viewed said exercise as a cover for building up assets in the region that were to be used in strikes against Damascus after a major chemical false flag, but that operation appears to have fizzled after the Russians warned they would directly retaliate against the Americans if their personnel were struck alongside Syrian government forces. Consequently Gen. Joseph Dunford chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff engaged in intense talks with his Russian counterpart Gen. Valery Gerasimov and a collision between two nuclear armed military superpowers was averted -- for now. But Russia's leading foreign policy experts believe Bolton will provoke confrontation with the Kremlin:
Hours after US President Donald Trump announced that H.R. McMaster had departed as national security adviser and would be replaced by John Bolton — a longtime detractor of Iran, Iraq, Russia and North Korea, among others — Russia was among the first to react to the news.
Though some Russian officials reacted cautiously and expressed a willingness to work with Washington regardless of who Trump puts into key foreign policy posts, others made it clear that Moscow is genuinely concerned by the course American foreign policy has taken in recent months. Bolton, who was named to the position March 22 — near the 15th anniversary of the start of the US campaign in Iraq — advocated for that war and still does. It's an understatement to say he is seen as a controversial figure.
“Bolton, along with Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, was an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq. A supporter of jihadists for the sake of overthrowing [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad]. A great specialist in interventions and aggression, and adept at the use of force," Russian Sen. Alexey Pushkov, the chair of the Council of the Federation Committee on Informational Policy, wrote in a March 23 tweet. He was referring to former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Trump has replaced McMaster, a "hawk," with "super-hawk and neocon John Bolton," said Pushkov, who is also active on Russian foreign policy matters. "McMaster is a general. Bolton is the ideologue of a new cold war, a convinced opponent of Russia."
Georgi Asatryan, an expert on US policy in Afghanistan and the Middle East, told Al-Monitor that Bolton’s appointment to the key position in the administration means “a neoconservative trend in US foreign policy is being aggrandized.”
As hawkish as McMaster is, he was considered a moderating influence in Trump's White House.
“Bolton is an antithesis to a moderate Gen. McMaster," Asatryan said. "Given Bolton’s biography and views, one can imagine what kind of advice he would be giving to Trump. Top it off with the fact that [CIA Director Mike] Pompeo, a man with similar perspectives, is going to take over as the state secretary, Washington’s neoconservative pivot is evident. It doesn’t mean the US will go to bomb Iran and North Korea tomorrow, yet the probability of making tough, if not radical, decisions has skyrocketed.”
Moscow’s primary concerns with the Bolton appointment — much as with Pompeo's controversial nomination as a replacement for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (which still has to be confirmed by the Senate) — relate to following issues: the way Bolton will approach rising US-Russia tensions, the future of the Iran nuclear deal, the prospect of talks with North Korea, a potential change of course in Syria, and how Bolton advises Trump to tackle China.
Weighing in from 'the Chans, inspired by the QAnon phenomenon, is this paragraph posted by Italy-based American expat blogger Vox Day aka Theodore Robert Beale:
The President signed the [pork laden and barely making a dent in building the wall on the Mexican border omnibus --JWS] bill because the military needed to be funded. They're going to have some big jobs this year: war with Iran, rounding up most of the Obama administration to stand trial in front of military tribunals, and keeping domestic order when the roundup happens. The midterms are going to be utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. That means the roundup will happen before then and the DNC will be struggling with things other than running for office.
Whether you believe QAnon is revealing deep state shake ups and plans within plans or is simply a big hoax, the latest missile barrage designed to humiliate the Crown Prince raises the stakes for Riyadh. The Saudis need more help at the very least in hunting down the Houthis arsenal of Burkan rockets and increasingly sophisticated air to air missiles converted into SAMs that have been shooting down the Kingdom's drones and occasionally, some of its U.S./UK made fighter jets. The risk of escalation through the back door of special operations raids and direct participation by American pilots who could get shot down by the Houthis most advanced SAMs is real, and growing by the day under Bolton as he is clearly determined to 'get tough' on Iran and their Shi'a proxies. Even if it is likely to prove very different from the war gaming calculations made at the Pentagon and Israeli Ministry of Defense in consultation with the Saudis, a wider showdown of some sort seems inevitable. Given Iran's massive oil exports to China and growing military ties to Russia and Turkey, what is also certain is a tougher Eurasian response to any American threats against Tehran.