British daily, The Independent, labelled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the Middle East man of the year, but noted that his impact stems from his failures.
Bin Salman, well known in the Kingdom as MbS, “is the undoubted Middle East man of the year, but his great impact stems more from his failures than his successes,” Patrick Cockburn wrote in an article in The Independent entitled: “Mohammed bin Salman’s ill-advised ventures have weakened Saudi Arabia’s position in the world.”
The British writer said that MbS is accused of being Machiavellian in clearing his way to the throne by the elimination of opponents inside and outside the royal family.
However, he argued that “when it comes to Saudi Arabia’s position in the world, his miscalculations remind one less of the cunning man oeuvres of Machiavelli and more of the pratfalls of Inspector Clouseau.”
“Again and again, the impulsive and mercurial young prince has embarked on ventures abroad that achieve the exact opposite of what he intended.”
Talking about Saudi policy on Syria, Cockburn said When MbS’ father became king in early 2015, “he gave support to a rebel offensive in Syria that achieved some success but provoked full-scale Russian military intervention, which in turn led to the victory of President Bashar al-Assad.”
The writer then turned to talk about the war in Yemen as saying: “At about the same time, MbS launched Saudi armed intervention, mostly through airstrikes, in the civil war in Yemen. The action was code-named Operation Decisive Storm, but two and a half years later the war is still going on, has killed 10,000 people and brought at least seven million Yemenis close to starvation.”
Cockburn said the effect of the Crown Prince policies has been to increase Iranian influence, giving the crisis with Qatar as an example.
“The feud with Qatar, in which Saudi Arabia and the UAE play the leading role, led to a blockade being imposed five months ago which is still going on. The offence of the Qataris was to have given support to al-Qaeda type movements – an accusation that was true enough but could be levelled equally at Saudi Arabia – and to having links with Iran. The net result of the anti-Qatari campaign has been to drive the small but fabulously wealthy state further into the Iranian embrace.”
On the other hand, the writer turned to talk about the latest crisis in Lebanon which was caused by Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation from the Saudi capital.
“Saudi relations with other countries used to be cautious, conservative and aimed at preserving the status quo. But today its behavior is zany, unpredictable and often counterproductive: witness the bizarre episode in November when the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was summoned to Riyadh, not allowed to depart and forced to resign his position. The objective of this ill-considered action on the part of Saudi Arabia was apparently to weaken Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon, but has in practice empowered both of them.”
“What all these Saudi actions have in common is that they are based on a naïve presumption that “a best-case scenario” will inevitably be achieved. There is no “Plan B” and not much of a “Plan A”: Saudi Arabia is simply plugging into conflicts and confrontations it has no idea how to bring to an end,” Cockburn said in his article.
Source: The Independent