On November 21, 2017, retired National Security Council and CIA employee Bruce Riddle spoke to a crowd at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, and made some shocking remarks about US-Saudi relations.
Writer Douglas London says in a report published by the American "Politico" magazine that Riddle, who spent 40 years following up on Saudi affairs from the responsibilities he bears, was monitoring the secrets of the Saudi economy and diplomacy in addition to its internal policies, and he had two points he wanted to make clear about Washington's most important ally in the East Middle.
The first point is that Saudi Arabia has recently undergone a disturbing change, considering that its policies that were previously normally vague and predictable have become since 2014 more volatile and unpredictable than they were during the past forty years.
The second point is that the White House apparently decided to give its full support to the current leadership of the Kingdom without making a serious effort to understand it, as Riddle said that President Donald Trump gave Saudi Arabia a blank check regarding its domestic and foreign policies, which makes Washington's policy towards Riyadh - which was careful - is now extremely adventurous and reckless.
The writer London - a former CIA operations officer - says that this spring, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent shock waves all over the world, after it engaged in an economically damaging game against its oil opponent, Russia, after its withdrawal from the conference of oil producing countries, it decided Riyadh increased its production in order to reduce prices due to what it considered a abandonment by Moscow of its role. This step led to the collapse of world prices, in conjunction with the Corona virus, which paralyzed the economy.
He adds that prior to these developments, the Saudi government itself had been subjected to an exciting process of purging, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who appears to have strengthened his authority in the past three years, and also has the support of the Trump administration.
The writer notes that many analysts and experts such as Bruce Riddle warn that the Trump administration accepted Muhammad bin Salman in the same way that the administration of Barack Obama accepted the former crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef, that is, relying on a highly politicized intelligence apparatus, deliberately - most likely - Leaving important gaps in the information the president has seen.
The results of this method seem worrying. During his time in power, Muhammad bin Salman implicated the United States in the Yemeni quagmire, assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and also caused energy markets turmoil, and flirted with Washington's opponents such as Russia, China and Iran.
The writer says that the US engagement with Saudi Arabia has always been dependent on gathering intelligence information in order to determine the real motives and internal interactions within this kingdom, which is a mysterious country whose rulers are not subject to the principles of internal transparency or minimal external accountability.
He adds that this kingdom is now ruled by King Salman, who is 84 years old and weakened, and it represents a cover for his son who is actually in power, and therefore it is more important than ever to obtain reliable intelligence information about what is happening in this country, which Washington has had relations with Millions of dollars in military, diplomatic and trade.
The author notes that critics of this American policy have warned that US intelligence institutions, especially the last three CIA directors, have taken a very politicized approach to collecting information about Saudi Arabia. Rather than posing important questions and enhancing the method of collecting information, intelligence officials preferred to advance their conclusions and outlooked any facts contrary to their vision.
The writer notes that this approach is still ongoing, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prompted his ministry officials to search for justification for the declaration he made last year about ignoring Congress and passing a $ 8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
He adds that White House officials apparently faced a complex and dangerous diplomatic ally, preferring to turn a blind eye to Saudi behavior and allow themselves to be directed by intelligence officials who were motivated.
In this regard, the writer explains that the politicization of intelligence work in order to undermine the truth is not necessarily directly, as just a decision to refrain from asking specific questions can have the same effect as manipulation and negation of facts. For example, there is no evidence that George Bush, Obama, or Trump once sought to draft an analytical document that combined what the various intelligence agencies know, in order to define the questions that must be asked and the evidence and evidence that must be obtained, with a view to reaching An evaluation reveals the truth about Saudi leadership, its policies, its human rights record, and its internal stability.
London says that the Trump administration’s current behavior is unprecedented for him, although he has worked in the intelligence field for four decades, as it has never happened that the National Security Council and the CIA are focused in this way on controlling information that could be exposed, contradicted, or offensive to the president .
It is reported that Washington during the reign of King Abdullah was supporting Prince Nayef and expected him to come to power, and therefore failed to anticipate the coup that took place in June 2017 within the royal palace, which enabled Muhammad bin Salman to take the place of his cousin Nayef and put him in house arrest .
The author adds that this failure means that in just two years, the horses that Washington has wagered on were neutralized in Riyadh. Salman, who was suffering from the disease, became king in 2015, then in 2017 his son Muhammad managed to plan the coup, which caused the United States to deal with an ally that did not She was supporting him, and a rising star did not know much about him.
Therefore, London considers that the American intelligence services failed in its mission, and that John Brennan, despite his claim to be an expert in Saudi affairs, a veteran intelligence agency analyst, and a trainer to provide neutral and intelligence-based assessments, made a mistake when he politicized his role and that of the intelligence agency.
The author believes that Trump is required to prove the feasibility of his positive relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince, provided that this is done based on evidence from intelligence agencies. Failure to adopt this approach may lead Washington to mistakes such as those that caused the most embarrassing situations in the Middle East, such as the failure to anticipate the Iranian revolution, and the manipulation of information in 2002 to justify the invasion of Iraq.