SHAFAQNA – Truth be told Saudi Arabia might not be as financially viable as its royal highnesses’ lifestyle would like you to think. In fact, while Saudi Royals have continued unabashed to live the lives of excessive billionaires, the kingdom’s coffers have dried up at lightning speed … so much so that Riyadh is now looking to borrow in order to keep up with its many liabilities.
From the looks of things Saudi Arabia’s ambitions in the region, its many wars and grand financing of terror have caught up with it, forcing Riyadh to consider being on the receiving end of a US-brokered loan. The irony of the situation is not without poetry.
Just as Riyadh appeared to have pulled away from Washington’s political diktat, forging ahead with its own policies, and its own hegemonic ambitions, it is money – or rather the need for it, which would make the impetuous vassal kneel again to the might of US Capitalism.
In this grand game of control, it is necessity which is leading the dance!
According to reports, Saudi Arabia is looking for loans worth $10 billion from international lenders for the first time in a decade – a sign of the time most surely!
A report in the Independent read: “The Saudi Arabian government is said to have sent an invitation to banks to discuss a US dollar loan. While the invitation did not specify an amount, sources said it could be worth $10 billion or more. Calls to the Saudi finance ministry and central bank seeking comments were not immediately returned.”
If the kingdom is looking for cash, it does not want to advertise it! Preoccupied with appearances at a political juncture where one’s “ability” could quite simply make the difference in between absolute support, and criminalization, Saudi Arabia cannot afford to lose its political Court.
A reigning monarch over the Western world, Riyadh’s projection of power: whether political or military, has solely relied on its ability to buy supporters, and mercenaries – without its bought-protection, the kingdom has little to show for.
If not for the military backing of the US, if not for the judicial immunity Western powers dispensed Riyadh against lucrative contracts, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia might not live through another sunset … let alone a sunrise. Riyadh’s regime is not exactly a popular one … not among Saudis, and certainly not among Arabs, never mind the Islamic world, and beyond.
A violent, brutal and genocidal regime, Riyadh’s popularity among world powers has always been proportional to its officials’ financial largesse. Should the kingdom enter a recession, its friends would most likely disappear into the ether, living the House of Saud to weather the elements on its own. Not exactly an inviable position indeed since several nations would very much like the opportunity to smite the kingdom.
From Lebanon, to Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia stands an enemy to the people, a destroyer of nations – a vengeful blade on religious minorities. Should Riyadh waver financially, the blood on its officials’ hands will very likely speak war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Who then will speak for the kingdom? Who then will stand in defence of one of History’s most radically fascist states?
If anything Saudi’s shock loan request signals that the kingdom is looking at other ways to finance its economy after the oil price slump – notwithstanding its war on Yemen. Caught in its own web of political and economic manipulations, Riyadh is finding out that those who play with fire can in fact get burn.
In its attempt to jeopardize Russia and Iran’s economic health, and its eagerness to wage war in the MENA in the name of geopolitical re-engineering, Riyadh essentially forgot just how much its institutions rely on oil revenues.
But Saudi Arabia is not alone in its predicament – Gulf monarchies, whose political fates have been tied up to that of the kingdom, have too slipped into recession, contemplating international loans to stay afloat. Qatar borrowed $5.5 billion in January, around the same time the government of Oman borrowed $1 billion through an international loan.
This economic realignment will likely accelerate, and heighten tensions in the Persian Gulf at a time when socio-political lay lines have been under great many strains. Here too the kingdom has only itself to blame – following decades of covert aggression against religious minorities Wahhabis have made many enemies, and very few friends. I would personally argue that whatever allies Riyadh in fact has is based on financial self-interest and not ideology, thus living the kingdom open for a very hostile takeover.
What happens when the have-nots realise that the House of Saud does not have anything to give anymore?
What looked yesterday as a mighty Arab empire would find itself facing the wrath of a mighty revolution … maybe one not too different from that which rocked another despot some three decades ago in Iran. The irony of it all.
The clock is already ticking on Riyadh. The kingdom according to reports already raised domestic petrol prices by up to 40 per cent as part of a raft of measures brought in to address a record budget deficit of $100 billion in 2015. Subsidies for water, electricity and petrol are expected to be dismantled over the next five years.
Such measures will bear heavy on those poorest, heightening internal tensions and popular anger.
But an oil slump is not Saudi Arabia’s only trouble. The kingdom has a water problem too … a big one too
As reported by the Independent: “Saudi Arabia has started taxing water for residents to try and address the soaring cost of debt as oil revenues decline. The water tariff comes amid warnings that Saudi Arabia’s groundwater will run out in the next 13 years.”
Saudi Arabia relies on two sources of water: groundwater and water from desalination plants that remove salt from seawater. Groundwater accounts for 98 per cent of water sources in Saudi Arabia, because the kingdom is devoid of rivers and lakes.
Suddenly this war on Yemen takes on another dimension altogether …
By Catherine Shakdam – This article appeared first in the American Herald Tribune