Friday, November 10, 2017

Royal Decline

More and more countries are affected by the political decline. Fortunately this has limited direct global impact as long as the countries are small. Hungary, Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden etc. are gradually degrading into banana republics. The decline of such small countries is only indirectly a global problem because it affects the functioning of the EU. Decline in single countries is a direct problem if the countries are big and important. Good examples are of course the United States, the UK and Turkey.

But the political decline does not only affect democracies. The Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman has won praise for letting women drive a car and promising reforms. But he is also behind the isolation of Qatar and the suppression of Al Jazeera known for its freer flow of information. He is also behind a harder line against Iran. And what is worst, he is behind the brutal campaign in Yemen.

Clearly also the Houthi rebels and Iran contribute to the suffering in Yemen. But it is Saudi Arabia which bombs civilians, hospitals and schools. Actions which if carried out by the Syrian government are widely condemned by the west.

Already before the last weak the consequences for the population of Yemen were disastrous. Now with the blockade after the Houthi missile attack large parts of the population are threatened with starvation.

Especially the Western powers with their huge deliveries of weapons to the Saudis have a big responsibility for stopping the war against the Yemeni population.

Also Saudi accusations against Iran are a dangerous escalation. The risk of major regional conflict are increased this way. An experienced diplomat like old Sheik Yamani would hardly have behaved this way. The Crown Prince is also campaigning against corruption - or is it against opponents? Today even corrupt but responsible leaders are better than an irresponsible one.

As ever more leaders of this type, democratic or royal, dominate important countries, the more dangerous a place the world will be.

This is worsened by the general tendency for leaders to ignore and overrule experience, experts and diplomats. Exchanging the members of the diplomacy and employees of the foreign ministry or hiring businessmen and military officers for important posts are all examples of how the buffers between sentiment and dangerous actions are removed. Deep states are becoming shallow states. A shallow mini-state is mainly a problem for its own inhabitants who are fooled to vote for it. A shallow powerful state is a global problem. Several shallow powers is a global disaster.  Very small perceived or real provocations can trigger conflicts, and these can easily trigger wars in cyberspace or on the battlefield.

Prince bin Salman risks to be known in the future as the butcher of Yemen. Neither Islamic historians, nor God the Merciful will look benevolently at a man who shows no mercy.

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