Tom Friedman (left) getting “instructed” of his next duty (artist conception)
The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style.
Unlike the other Arab Springs — all of which emerged bottom up and failed miserably, except in Tunisia — this one is led from the top down by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and, if it succeeds, it will not only change the character of Saudi Arabia but the tone and tenor of Islam across the globe.
Friedman once said that U.S. soldiers must shove their guns into the face of random Arabs and tell them to “suck on this”. How things change. Friedman now went to Riyadh to suck on whatever side of his abdomen Mohammed bin Salman shoved into his mustached mouth:
We met at night at his family’s ornate adobe-walled palace in Ouja, north of Riyadh. M.B.S. spoke in English, while his brother, Prince Khalid, the new Saudi ambassador to the U.S., and several senior ministers shared different lamb dishes and spiced the conversation.
After nearly four hours together, I surrendered at 1:15 a.m. to M.B.S.’s youth, pointing out that I was exactly twice his age. It’s been a long, long time, though, since any Arab leader wore me out with a fire hose of new ideas about transforming his country.
“Look here! MbS SPEAKS ENGLISH (and pays in dollars)! This must be OUR GUY.”
(“And don’t ya all love those (homo-)sexual allusions I enwombed in those words?”)
I spent an evening with Mohammed bin Salman at his office, and he wore me out.
Friedman’s Love Letter to a War Criminal largely ignores the famine in Yemen caused by the U.S.-Saudi blockade of that country. The Saudi tyrant promised to lift the blockade two days ago only to keep it up and to even tightenit since. “A humanitarian nightmare” is all Friedman has to say about it.
But “it blew [his] mind” to learn that “men-only” concerts in Riyadh are now a thing.
Friedman falsely claims that MbS is a “lawyer by training,..”. Since when is a Bachelor degree in Islamic law – the only academic training MbS claims to have – sufficient to join a legal bar?
Friedman goes on to repeat the ridiculous claim that the tyrant’s brutal shakedown of his local competition is following some rule of law:
When all the data was ready, the public prosecutor, Saud al-Mojib, took action, M.B.S. said, … “Under Saudi law, the public prosecutor is independent. We cannot interfere with his job …”
Those are of course outright lies which Friedman makes no attempt to refute. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. What part of “absolute” is so difficult to understand? King Salman’s decree gave his son’s shakedown committee absolute authority to maim whoever it wants to and to take whatever it likes – literary:
“It may take whatever measures deemed necessary to deal with those involved in public corruption cases and take what it considers to be the right of persons, entities, funds, fixed and movable assets, at home and abroad, …”
There is no “public prosecutor” or “rule of law” involved in that mass rape. Moreover, the kings decree immunizes MbS of any consequences. It exempts his committee “from laws, regulations, instructions, orders and decisions” as long as it claims to perform its tasks.
Not a single Saudi I spoke to here over three days expressed anything other than effusive support for this anticorruption drive.All is well, Friedman says, because the few people he was allowed to talk to, knew their script well:
No Saudi speaks out against that drive because doing so might get him killed. Anything less than “effusive support” for the clown prince constitutes “terrorism” and gets one jailed or killed in no time:
The law, introduced earlier this month, includes penalties of up to 10 years in jail for insulting the king and crown prince, as well as the death penalty for other acts of “terrorism”, according to Saudi Gazette and other local news media.
Friedman. won’t go to jail. He pens down whatever the Saudi ruler and his entourage tell him to – or not to write. He says as much:
Indeed, M.B.S. instructed me: “Do not write …”
Thus, Saudi Arabia, which is funding thousands of extremist Wahhabi mosques all around the world, will now become the beacon of liberal Islam. Or so he claims.
The whole piece is a terrible embarrassment for its author, but even more so for the editors at the NY Times, who let it pass. They should demand the pay for a full spread advertisement from the Saudis to compensate for the loss of readership Friedman’s column is likely to cause.
One wonders why the mustache felt the need to suck up all the crap MbS offered to him. He is married to a billionaire and does not need the extra income. Then again – some “youth” to “surrender to” and a “fire hose” to “wore him out” for “a long, long time” might have been an enticing compensation
This article was originally published by Moon Of Alabama
The 21st Century