I first wrote about Mohammed bin Salman and his profound, forward-thinking plan for Saudi Arabia in May of 2016 (search for Vision 2030 on this blog will to take you to the specific posting).
This weekend, the Crown Prince, also called “The Face of the Future,” took to task one of the salient commitments of Vision 2030, and that is:
[To] embrace transparency and, to that end, zero tolerance for all levels of corruption.
The weekend detention of 17 of Saudi’s most prominent princes and top officials demonstrated his commitment to the plan – and his country. Those that put their personal interests over that of their country and who continue to steal public funds, found that the Crown Prince has a zero tolerance for the “old ways” of conducting business.
But that wasn’t the Big News Story of the day for Riyadh.
Intercepting a Burkan 2-H ballistic missile targeted for King Khalid Airport in the heart of the city was truly the breath-taking moment – for all of the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has long had its differences with Yemen, but the Saudis see the bigger picture here – the one that suggests that Iran is subsidizing (and supplying) the Houthi rebels, as the weapon was disassembled, smuggled into Yemen, and then reassembled before being launched. Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir claimed in an interview for CNN that the Saudis consider this act to be an act of war – and will “respond when the time is appropriate.”
Chilling words in an area where the balance of power can tip the scales at any given time; however, bold acts do not go unnoticed. As the Foreign Minister stated, “Iran cannot lob missiles into Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to act.” No free passes here.
Make no mistake. Iran is testing the young Saudi Prince’s resolve – at a time when all eyes are upon him as he committed to expel corruption at its highest level from Saudi Arabia.
If Iran’s boldness has been done with the perception that it has the power of Russia behind it – this could be a strategic miscalculation. Russia looks out for Russia first. It would not be surprising to find Mr. Putin looking the other way – perhaps foraging his own agenda with the new Saudi Arabia.
To that I would say … beware, my sweet Prince.