TEHRAN (Press Shia) – An American political commentator described Saudi King Salman’s recent cabinet reshuffle as an attempt at crisis management following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
“…al-Jubeir is not out, but now forced into a 'sharing' of responsibilities. Al-Assaf, who was formerly arrested when King Salman took power (but not penalized) returns to serve the monarchy which he has done for decades in numerous important positions. In short, it is a crisis management reshuffle to overcome the damage to and doubts about King Salman stemming from the Khashoggi murder,” Beau Grosscup, California State University Professor Emeritus of Political Science, told Press Shia.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Press Shia: As you know, Saudi Arabia's King Salman has appointed a new foreign minister as part of a major cabinet reshuffle. Why do you think the royal family decided to demote Adel al-Jubeir to the position of minister of state for foreign affairs and name Ibrahim al-Assaf as his replacement?
Grosscup: This reshuffle is largely cosmetic. It is meant to show the world (in particular US Congress members who called for change after the Khashoggi assassination) that those connected to the plot are being held accountable. At the same time, it supports the Saudi claim that King Salman was not involved in the plot, but rather 'rogue' elements under the direction of others (Adel al-Jubeir for example) ordered the assassination on their own. Meanwhile, al-Jubeir is not out, but now forced into a 'sharing' of responsibilities. Al-Assaf, who was formerly arrested when King Salman took power (but not penalized) returns to serve the monarchy which he has done for decades in numerous important positions. In short, it is a crisis management reshuffle to overcome the damage to and doubts about King Salman stemming from the Khashoggi murder. Whether it resulted from an agreement between the Trump Administration and King Salman is hard to prove, but it certainly serves the interests of both parties and re-solidifies the longstanding Saudi/US relationship much to the approval of Israel and to the determent of Iran.
Press Shia: Arab states are preparing to restore their presence in Syria after years of absence following the outbreak of a foreign-sponsored conflict more than seven years ago, with Bahrain being the next in the line of countries to reopen its embassy in Damascus. On Thursday, the United Arab Emirates officially reopened its embassy in Damascus. Why are the Arab nations that once were supporters of militants in Syria trying to restore ties with Damascus?
Grosscup: To the victor go the spoils and in the case the Assad government, (backed by Russia, Turkey and Iran), is the victor (both on the battlefield and via the Astana Peace Process) who has to be dealt with as such. Re-establishing diplomatic connections with Assad is a recognition by other Middle-east dictators that influencing events in Syria is now to be done once again via normal diplomatic channels among Middle-eastern 'brothers' for whom the failed US/French/British/Israel/Saudi sponsored 'regime change' war in Syria has been very costly. Any future effort by Western powers to overthrow Assad that shows promise will result in another severing of these new diplomatic relations.
Press Shia: The reshuffle in the Saudi cabinet as well the reopening of embassies in Damascus came after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US troops from Syria on Wednesday, asserting that the Daesh terror group had been defeated. What do you think? Do you think a new plot is on the way?
Grosscup: With Assad still in power, backed by Russia and Iran, for the Western powers, Saudi Arabia and Israel there remains 'unfinished business.' Thus, there is always a 'new plot' to change things, but using different methods and instruments in Syria and other arenas (regime change in Iran for example) than the failed 'proxy war.
Press Shia: Experts argue that it is very clear that Washington’s rage for global dominance and its imperial agenda for colonizing planet earth will remain unchanged. Do you believe so?
Grosscup: As the self-appointed architect of the post Cold War 'New World Order', the US National Security State remains committed to its neo-imperial agenda. This consists of a two-pronged strategic agenda of (1) preventing the rise of a competing power (Russia, China, European Union) and (2) access to/control of strategic mineral resources (thus the new US military/economic presence in Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Obama 'pivot' to the Pacific). The competing constituencies for power within the National Security State (Trilateralists = soft power advocates) and Neo-conservatives = hard power advocates) agree on the neo-imperial strategic goals, but disagree on the tactics to be used.