Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman sits on an ejector seat. Put in the saddle by his Alzheimer’s-stricken dad after the ejection of the previous putative heir, Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, he knows very well that the clan leaders can at any time subject him to the same fate and replace him, for example, by his younger brother Khaled. The shenanigans within the Sudayri* clan and, more broadly, within the House of Saud, contain all the ingredients of a Turkish or Egyptian soap operas.
For two months, MbS has been on the tightrope after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, who never came out of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul alive and in one piece. In all likelihood, the case scenario seems to be a remake of the Ben Barka case. The Moroccan opponent had been kidnapped in Paris 1965, transported to Morocco, where he was tortured to death, before being dissolved in an acid bath. The mafia members who carried out the operation worked for General Oufkir's secret services, were supervised by the Israeli Mossad and covered by the French services of the SDECE (the future DGSE). It seems that the mission of the 15 Saudi agents sent to Istanbul was to bring Khashoggi back alive and whole to the kingdom, but that the operation would have gone "wrong". Once killed, Khashoggi would have been cut up into pieces and evacuated to some unknown dump. In any case, it seems established that the acid necessary to dissolve his remains was not part of the diplomatic baggage of the 15 special envoys.
Everything indicated MbS as the supreme responsible for the Khashoggi operation: Erdogan made it clear, so did Qatar, the Washington Post, the CIA, in short, it is only Trump to say that it is too early to make a decision, adding: "If we hit the Saudis, they will increase the price of the oil they sell us. »
However, given MbS' mode of governance, which has centralized everything in its hands, it is difficult to believe that it was not him whom gave the order to neutralize Khashoggi, "by any means necessary". Why did he has to neutralize Khashoggi? For a very simple reason: the man, who had worked for about 20 years for the Saudi moukhabarats (intelligence service), had placed himself under CIA protection with a concrete cover - "columnist at the Washington Post" - and was about to launch an initiative in the form of a "Saudi spring", which would have been supported by his Yankee protectors, to promote reforms and, why not, an abolition of the monarchy. The prospect of an "Arab Islamic Republic" style movement was enough to make the supposed future Saudi king sweat and make him even more paranoid, entangled as he is already in the quagmire of an expensive and ineffective extermination war in Yemen and in his confused attempt to convert the petromonarchy into a post-petroleum monarchy, for which investors are long overdue (the desert Davos, after the Khashoggi case, was a complete bust).
The popularity of MbS in the Arab-Muslim world is therefore falling. It is not only the erdogano-qatari Muslim Brotherhood who are campaigning, but all from the twiitero-facebooko-Instagramians, from Nouakchott to Aleppo, not to mention of course the major US media and press freedom organisations. MbS therefore ordered its services to set up a "troll farm", based in Riyadh, to advertise on social networks. "In less than 24 hours, the hashtag #انا_عربي_ومحمد_بن_بن_سلمان_يمثلن, literally meaning "I am an Arab and Mohamed Ben Salman represents me" literally flooded the twittosphere to the point of reaching the top 3rd global trend on the social network," reported the Huffpost Maghreb on 25 October.
But propaganda on the web is not enough. Nothing beats direct contact with decision-makers in the Arab world, with small gifts. The Sudayris know how to draw their checkbook as fast as their chainsaw. And so here is our MbS embarked on a worldwide journey. First step: the United Arab Emirates, where he was welcomed by 21 cannon shots on Thursday 22 November and welcomed with open arms by his elder and mentor, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, aka MbZ, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who should sit next to him in the dock, should the International Criminal Court ever discover that they are committing genocide (you can always dream). Next stops: Tunis, Buenos Aires (G20 summit, where he will meet Erdogan, Trump and the world's top guns) and Algiers. Other capitals are expected to receive it, including Nouakchott (Mauritania) and Manama (Bahrain).
The Tunis stage, where he is expected on Tuesday, November 27, has, as it should be, given rise to typical Karakuzic incidents**. While Saudi official statements indicated that MbS was travelling to Tunis at the invitation of President Beji Caïd Essebsi, the latest’s spokesperson, Saida Garache, denied this information to a local radio station on 23 November. In short, MbS has invited himself and you can't say no to such a powerful prince. For the Saudi princes, the Maghreb countries have long been territories of gazelle hunting (literally and figuratively), stubbornness, fornication, whisky consumption and investment. Linked for decades to the other wing of the Sudayri clan - that of Prince Nayef - the Tunisian and Algerian presidents were somewhat embarrassed by MbS' self-invitation against a backdrop of Khashoggian scandal. Especially since Tunisian civil society hastened to join the dance.
The facade of the headquarters of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists
50 Tunisian lawyers filed a lawsuit to prohibit the prince from placing his solid gold slippers on Tunisian soil, while the National Union of Journalists published an open letter to the president denouncing this "flagrant attack against the principles of our revolution", and recalling that, "Already on 22 October, we were shocked by the position of the (Tunisian) Ministry of Foreign Affairs when it called not to use the case of the murder of our Saudi colleague Jamal Khashoggi to "exploit this incident to target Saudi Arabia, its security and stability". Activists also called for demonstrations on Monday 26 at 6 p.m. and Tuesday 27 from 10 a.m. on Habib Bourguiba Avenue under the slogan "No murderer in our country", recalling among other things that the deposed dictator Ben Ali and his small family are refugees among the Saudis. Meanwhile, Algerians, less organized than Tunisians, are agitating and launching petitions and hashtags against the visit of MbS, which creates as much embarrassment at La Mouradia as it creates in Carthage. Bouteflika was indeed an old friend and accomplice of Prince Nayef (the father), whose son he had received in January 2017.
Knighted by a father suffering from Alzheimer's, received by a Tunisian president who has exceeded the age limit (91 years) then by an Algerian president reduced to the state of a vegetable, the chainsaw prince will have better to distribute small gifts to the top guns assembled in Buenos Aires. For example, paying the invoices of Mrs Lagarde's Chanel tailors and opening the Saudi market to the haute couture creations of María Juliana Awada, the first lady of Argentina, made in workshops in the suburbs of Buenos Aires exploiting women workers 15 hours a day for a monthly salary of... $48 . This would make him definitely win a label of great feminist before the Capital Lord.
*The Sudayris are the 7 sons of Hassa bint Ahmed Al Sudayri, one of the favorite spuses of Ibn Saud (1880-1953), founder of Saudi Arabia and king from 1932 to 1953. King Salman is one of the Magnificent (or Bastards, as you wish) Seven.
**Karakuz is a shadow and puppet theatre of Turkish origin, named after its main character Karagöz (Blackeye). which has spread throughout the Ottoman Empire, from Greece to Tunisia, named after its main character Karagöz (Black Eyes) which became in Greece Karagiorgios, George the Black. This term refers to the political circus in Tunisian Arabic.
First protest in Tunis
In front of the City Theatre on Monday evening