US officials have been alarmed by the reckless behaviour of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). An unnamed State department official said that the behaviour of young leader ‘has the potential to damage US interests’.
MBS has made a rapid progress in the political ladder in spite of being inexperienced. He leads major aspects of politics, security and the economy in Saudi Arabia. He oversees the war against in Yemen against Houthi rebels, as a defence minister.
He created havoc with his anti-corruption crackdown which saw the detention of Saudi’s elite. On the same day, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his shock resignation from Riyadh.
“He’s decided he doesn’t do anything cautiously,” said Philip Gordon, who was White House Middle East coordinator under President Barack Obama.
But, Gordon said: “If the crown prince alienates too many other princes and other pillars of the regime, pursues costly regional conflicts and scares off foreign investors, he could undermine the prospects for the very reforms he is trying to implement.”
However, for now, MBS has the backing of US President Trump and his son-in-law, senior advisor Jared Kushner, who visited Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
It was said that Kushner and bin Salman stayed up talking through the night, but the content of the meetings were undisclosed days before the Saudi purge began.
American officials were said to have been apprehensive about the relationship between Kushner and bin Salman.
“Jared is a bit of a black hole,” the State Department official told under anonymity. “There is no sense of the positions he has advocated. We can only guess, based on what he has done and where he has been.”
“The Emiratis and the Saudis have been very careful to cultivate him and bring him along” toward their “confrontational posture in the region”, the official added.
“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” President Trump said on Twitter after the mass arrests.
The State Department official, though, said that its diplomats, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency all felt “growing alarm” that bin Salman “is behaving recklessly without sufficient consideration to the likely consequences of his behaviour, and that has the potential to damage US interests.”