Even as it becomes more clear that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had a Washington Post writer brutally murdered in order to silence him, Donald Trump is still – for now – publicly standing by the Prince. Why? Simple: Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner are financially beholden to the guy. We don’t know what will happen next. There are a couple distinctly different ways this could go.
In what can only be seen as a positive development on its face, numerous business leaders from around the world are pulling their support, and in some instances pulling a lot of money, from Saudi Arabia. The Crown Prince has been trying to paint himself as a pro-West moderate, but in reality he’s always been a brutal extremist. That’s now becoming so painfully obvious, even the investors who wanted to look the other way are being forced to cut financial ties with him.
This kind of financial punishment can lead to, for lack of a better term, regime change. For instance, the United States and the world spent years slowly crushing Iran economically, until the result was that its hardline leader Ahmadinejad was replaced with the comparatively moderate Rouhani. Even though Trump has since screwed that up, Iran is still falling in line because it’s afraid of being financially punished by the rest of the world. So let’s say that his Saudi Arabia debacle snowballs to the point that the Crown Prince is forced out of power. Then what?
That could take the form of anything from more reasonable members of the Saudi royal family ousting him from within, to the entire royal family being ousted in favor of a new government. Let’s say that this is playing out while Donald Trump is still in power. Whose side will he take? Is he going to sit back and allow his personal benefactor be overthrown? What about Jared Kushner? He’s best buddies with the Crown Prince. The real danger is that, if the world does manage to shift this Saudi Arabia mess in the right direction, we don’t know how Trump and Kushner might respond. This guy seems to literally own them.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report