A top Iranian figure thinks that the Saudi government is about to crack. Is he right?
A top Iranian commander has lashed out at the Saudi aggression against Yemen, saying Riyadh is on the verge of collapse.“Today, Saudi Arabia is brazenly and obnoxiously bombarding and massacring a nation, which is seeking the denial of the hegemonic system,” said commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari on Monday.“Today, Al Saud is teetering on the edge of collapse,” the top commander said.The remarks by the IRGC chief come as Saudi Arabia keeps pounding neighboring Yemen (emphasis added).
Rarely has one of Saudi Arabia’s ageing rulers moved so nimbly. No sooner had King Salman taken the crown on January 23rd after the death of his half-brother, Abdullah, than he immediately settled one of the most pressing questions of his rule: who would be the next king and, crucially, who would be the king after that. “The king did 90% of his job in just one day!” jokes one Saudi…Some compare the Al Sauds to an increasingly professional company board. In 2006 the late King Abdullah set up an “allegiance council” with 35 members, representing all branches of the dynasty, to smooth the transfer of power. The word is that they voted on [second in line for succession] Prince Muhammad [bin Nayef]’s appointment — if true it would be a rare show of democracy, if only within the ruling family. Those who were passed over, for instance Miteb bin Abdullah, the late king’s son and head of the National Guard, appear to accept that collective survival is more important than individual ambition.
In the absence of the U.S. sentry, the Sunni Arab states are coming together to wage the new Middle Eastern cold war. Saudi Arabia is the focal point of the new alliance as its wealth is seeking to team up with Egypt’s size to contest Iran’s growing power. Cairo has pledged support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, and while it remains to be seen whether there is much military muscle in this arrangement, the Sunni states are beginning to come together to resurrect their influence.
A surge of rebel gains in Syria is overturning long-held assumptions about the durability of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which now appears in greater peril than at any time in the past three years.The capture Saturday of the town of Jisr al-Shughour in northern Idlib province was just the latest in a string of battlefield victories by rebel forces, which have made significant advances in both the north and the south of the country….The revival of rebel fortunes is attributed to a large degree to the recent rapprochement between a newly assertive Saudi Arabia and its erstwhile rivals for influence over the rebels — Turkey and Qatar.Since inheriting the throne in January, Saudi King Salman has moved forcefully to challenge the expanding regional influence of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s biggest foe, most publicly by embarking on an air war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. He has also acted to shore up the flagging and deeply divided rebels in Syria, in coordination with Qatar and Turkey, Khashoggi said.The result has been an unexpectedly cohesive rebel coalition called the Army of Conquest that is made up of al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, an assortment of mostly Islamist brigades and a small number of more moderate battalions. The coalition, which launched last month, has proved more effective than expected.