بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على نبيه الكريم
وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين
In a recent column, I predicted, based on both a spiritual premonition and an in depth analysis of current events and the geopolitical situation, that Saudi Arabia is headed for political instability and then civil war. I wrote that the diabolical figure of so-called ’’crown prince’’ Muhammad bin Salman, or MBS, is serving as the catalyst for political dissension in that country. I noted some of his reckless acts, such as initiating the catastrophic war in Yemen, which has become the Saudis’ ’’Vietnam’’, blockading Qatar and kidnapping the Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri. Internally, there was a severe crackdown on some of the outspoken clerics like Safar al-Hawali, Salman al-Awda, who was sentenced to death, and many others. Non-religious political activists and feminists have also been imprisoned. MBS was responsible for the episode that occurred in the Ritz Carlton hotel of Riyadh. He had billionaire Walid bin Talal and other senior royals of the House of Saud detained and tortured for the purpose of extorting billions of dollars from their coffers. When a prominent Saudi citizen and political activist, a journalist for the Washington Post, Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, voiced criticism of MBS, the latter had him brutally tortured and murdered at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi government initially denied they had done anything to Khashoggi, claiming he left the consulate alive. They then cast suspicion on other governments for his disappearance and possible death. But as the evidence began to pile up, the Saudis suddenly admitted that Khashoggi did indeed die while in their custody, though his killing was accidental, the result of a ’’fistfight’’. Finally, the Saudis were forced to confess that Khashoggi was murdered and that they had supposedly arrested the culprits - individuals with ties to the regime’s security and intelligence apparatus. At this point the Saudis are insisting that it was a ’’rogue operation’’, and that MBS is innocent - an obvious lie. Significantly, this whole episode has severely damaged Saudi Arabia’s credibility. MBS was not expecting such a strong international reaction to Khashoggi’s murder, and the subsequent extremely negative coverage of him and his government by the mass media. Major transnational corporations have decided against attending his highly publicized ’’Davos in the Desert’’ event, meant to attract investment in key Saudi projects part of Vision 2030, MBS’s brainchild. The strong reaction from both the U.S. President, Donald Trump, and the bipartisan condemnation of Saudi Arabia in the U.S. Congress for Khashoggi’s murder, is unprecedented in the history of Saudi-American relations. This is a signal that Saudi Arabia is no longer such a strategic and indispensable ally for the United States. The latter is by now largely energy independent, thanks to the shale revolution, and can easily afford to walk away from the Middle East. Saudi Arabia still has important regional allies, notably, Pakistan, Egypt and the UAE. But in the event of an internal uprising against MBS, bound to be led by rival princes in the House of Saud, it can be expected that the Saudi military will factionalize, and so the country’s regional allies will be confused and reluctant to commit their own forces to an intervention. Pakistan, for example, has previously pledged to commit their formidable armed forces solely for the protection of the sacred shrines of Mecca and Medina, and not necessarily to defend the Saudi monarchy. That pledge was made in the context of the potential danger posed by the Hûthi insurgency to the security of the Haramayn. Now if some of the rival princes of the House of Saud do decide to launch a coup against MBS, and this snowballs into a wider armed conflict involving factions within the Saudi military, one can reasonably expect that other repressed forces within the country will seize the opportunity to assert themselves too. Perhaps the Shi’ites of the Eastern Province will rise up, and also various Jihadist factions like al-Qaeda, Islamic State, etc. The Isma’ilis of Najran and Bedouin tribesmen may jump into the fray and take advantage of the instability of the central state. Externally, the Huthis would surely be emboldened to launch an offensive, and their forces could penetrate into Saudi territory along the border. If the Huthis, encouraged by Iran, mobilize to ’’liberate’’ Mecca and Medina from Saudi ’’occupation’’, the Pakistani military will most likely intervene. It is in this scenario and atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty that we can then expect the awaited Imâm, the Mahdî عليه السلام والرضوان to finally appear. He is the man who shall take refuge in the Sacred Mosque. The people shall recognize him and forcefully give him the bay’ah in the shade of the Ka’bah, between the Rukn and the Maqâm, but Allâh knows best. What is absolutely established from the authentic Ahâdîth is that the Sacred Mosque shall be attacked by an army. It is mentioned that that army will have been sent against a man who has taken refuge in the sacred precinct of Mecca, probably the expected Mahdî. The authentic Ahâdîth state that this army shall be destroyed. The earth shall collapse beneath their feet at a place called Baydâ, either a specific place or meaning a generic plain. I shall in future entries elaborate on these Ahâdîth which speak about the forthcoming destruction of an army sent to attack the Sacred Mosque in Mecca that will be swallowed by the earth at Baydâ, إن شاء الله
Here I must point out that it is traditionally expected that the promised Mahdi shall emerge during a time of bewilderment, political instability and chaos. I too intuitively hold this view, but must clarify that any specific interpretation of the prophecies contained in the Hadîth literature are not at all definite. They are not purely speculative either, but are based upon intensive study and deep introspection into today’s situation and the continuously unfolding events. What is clear to me is that the position of the Saudi monarchy has become precarious due to a number of factors, economic and geopolitical. The Saudis have powerful adversaries, primarily Iran but now Turkey too. Both of these regional powers have proxies that are actively involved in armed conflicts with the Saudis that show no sign of dissipating anytime soon. While Iran is backing various Shi’ite militants like so-called Hizbullâh, the Hûthis, Hashd al-Sha’bi, and wields considerable influence over the states of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; Erdogan’s Turkey is the main backer of the Muslim Brotherhood and has cemented its ties with the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar. And as these two forces come closer together, despite their own disagreements with each other, Saudi Arabia will find itself completely surrounded.