Hold it right there, son. Not so fast. I’m still the King! That’s the message King Salman has reportedly conveyed to his hedonistic son, Mohammed bin Salman, on his Aramco IPO delusion
Reliable sources in the Saudi regime have confirmed to Reuters that King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is the reason behind the sudden death of the over-hyped Saudi Aramco IPO. The well-informed decision came after the elderly King consulted with royal members, senior oil executives, including a former Aramco CEO, and bankers.
The most critical fear that swayed the King’s verdict was that a listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), or in London and Tokyo, would require Aramco to fully disclose its financial details. They would also have to reveal the exact amount of oil reserves they are sitting on. For many decades, these have been closely guarded State secrets.
What was Mohammed bin Salman thinking? Youthful impatience got the better of him. He also didn’t exactly know what an IPO meant.
Some unverified whispers down the corridors of power in the kingdom suggest King Salman may be showing signs of remorse at his rushed decision to remove his nephew, Mohammad bin Nayef, as the next-in-line. And if the reports of regret on the King’s part are just rumors, he actually should go on and feel guilty.
One of the first duties of a King is to pass the baton to someone who is responsible, someone who does not have craving and attachment for wealth, power and property. He should not destroy life, within and outside his Kingdom. He should promote peace by avoiding and preventing war. These are just the fundamentals.
But since June, 2017, when he was elevated through a hostile shuffle of power, Mohammed bin Salman has proven to be a wicked King-in-waiting.
Ensnared by transgressions
He is giving full vent to his spirit.
After becoming Crown Prince (he was defense minister before that), Mohammed bin Salman, with good friend and Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed, propelled Saudi Arabia straight into the civil war in Yemen on behalf of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi against the Iranian-backed Shi’a Houthis.
Their missiles and bombs (provided by US, which also gives intelligence), have in over three years killed and mutilated over 15, 000 civilians.
With the UAE, he moved against Qatar, isolating it within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), imposing a land, sea and air blockade.
He was reportedly behind the short-term resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri. Shockingly, the submission was handed over in Riyadh, not Beirut.
In the garb of purging corruption, he ordered the arrest and confinement of close to two hundred who’s who of the Kingdom, including nearly a dozen princes. The idea was to extract billions of Dollars from them and use it as part of PIF for his economic diversification (Vision 2030).
The 29-year-old human rights activist, Israa al-Ghomgham, her husband, Moussa al-Hashem, and three others have limited time. He is on the verge of approving the beheadings of four Saudi human rights activists.
He recently ordered the arrest of two brothers (Ahmed Abdelaziz Alzahrani, 24, and Abdulmajeed Abdelaziz Alzahrani, 19) of a Saudi activist, Omar Abdulaziz, for his online human rights advocacy, particularly amid an ongoing Saudi-Canadian diplomatic crisis. He was granted political asylum in Canada in 2014.
A new Crown Prince?
Mohammed bin Salman is not holier than thou himself. But, he still has time to redeem himself with one final act as the Monarch. At 82, he does not have much time, but more importantly, he now stands the risk of being deposed. Remember, Mohammed bin Salman is the Alpha male in the House of Saud right now.
The proposed IPO was MbS’ leading tale ever since he announced it to the world in 2016. He romanced it. It was to be the crown jewel of his plan to transform the Saudi economy. The abrupt shelving of the listing would have riled and embarrassed him deeply. Vengeful and touchy by nature, it is not unthinkable for him to be holding a grudge. After all, coups in the Kingdom are not unknown.
On November 2, 1964, King Saud was dethroned by his brother, Faisal. The only difference is that King Faisal was a good King, although it was a failed attempt. King Faisal himself faced a coup orchestrated by numerous high-ranking members of the Royal Saudi Air Force.
King Salman heads the family council, called The Descendants’ Council (Majlis al Uthra), established by King Fahd in 2000. Its objective is to solve family matters, reach consensus and try to avoid any publicly embarrassing behaviour of some family members. There can’t be a greater embarrassment than Mohammed bin Salman.
The King has a choice. He can quietly fade away and allow his Kingdom to collapse. Or, arrest the fall by handing over the reins to a better man. King Abdul Aziz has plenty of grandsons to choose from.
The past doesn’t have to be the future!