This is already shaping up to be one of the strangest periods for news in recent memory, for consider only the recent revelations from Israel's Ha Aretz that it had at one time hired SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny as a contract hitman. It's the timing that is odd, especially given the recent "summit" of Presidents Macri and Obama in San Carlos di Bariloche in Argentina's souther Rio Negro Province. For anyone paying attention to the history of the area, it's a well-known "Nazi haven".
But now there's even stranger news, and it concerns the fact that in sponsoring Isis terrorism, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia may be experiencing the mere beginning of that classic covert operations phenomenon called "blow back":
In a certain sense, this was inevitable and to be expected, for the stories abound that refer to the hypocrisy of the (out)house of Saud, maintaining Wahhabism at home for everyone else, and smoking cigars and flying in copious booze for parties in the west.
But there's another aspect to this story that indicates that perhaps the internal situation is decaying inside the desert kingdom faster than perhaps even the Saudis are willing to admit. It's this:
Consider especially these revelations:
Saudi Arabia announced that it is building a drone plant in cooperation with South Africa, but a well-known Saudi defense analyst claimed this is a guise to hide the clandestine purchases of aircraft from Israel.
The analyst, who calls himself "Mujtahid" has been leaking exclusive information about the royal family of Saudi Arabia on Twitter since the early 2000s. He challenged the official report released by the Saudi Defense Ministry this week, which stated the kingdom would build a drone factory in collaboration with South Africa.
"The report aims to hide the fact that Saudi Arabia intends to purchase drones from Israel via South Africa," he said.
"Saudi Arabia buys Israeli drones through South Africa. These drones later arrive from South Africa, dismantled, to Saudi Arabia, where they are assembled," Mujtahid added, describing the mechanism developed to carry out the Israeli-Saudi deal.
He went on to accuse Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who is Saudi Defense Minister and, according to some experts, the country’s second most powerful person, of serving Israel’s interest by purchasing drones from the Jewish state.
Saudi Arabia has been trying for years to strengthen its armed forces with drone capabilities. In 2010, General Atomics, the US producer of the Predator drone family, announced it had acquired export licenses for a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia. Export to Saudi Arabia has so far failed to materialize, even though a similar deal with the United Arab Emirates was approved by the US Congress in 2015.
What all of this taken together portends is, I suggest, that the regime in Riyadh is more fragile than has hitherto been thought. There have been a raft of revelations in recent weeks, from its purchase of atomic bombs from Pakistan, to its financial difficulties and willingess to issue sovereign bonds and (now) even to sell shares of Saudi Aramco, to its military intervantions.
But drones are a different story: they can be used fo surveillance, and for the remote assassination of the unwanted Shia or ISIS terrorist. And as the article also notes, while Saudi Arabia obtained lisences for American drones, so far - and I would suggest, suspiciously- those have not been obtained. Israel, once again, in connection with South Africa, appears to be filling the bill.
And that's two thirds of an old and familiar pattern.
See you on the flip side...