GEOPOLITICS: Book Review – MBS The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman – Review
By Iain Fraser – Defence & Security Correspondent
I was recently sent a copy of Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman’s Ruthless Quest for Global Power by the publishers to review for GEOPolitical Matters readers, by the publishers, so I took it with me to the Sierra´s this last weekend and found this Geopolitical tell-all was more akin to a Hollywood blockbuster or best-selling spy novel than a Geopolitical Expose and I found it impossible to put down.
Longlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
Written by award-winning Wall Street Journal investigative reporters Justin Scheck and Bradley Hope (co-author of Billion Dollar Whale) Blood and Oil has all the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster or spy thriller as the authors reveal the inner workings and secrets of the world’s most powerful ruling family and the Crown Prince´s apparent determination to destroy anything or indeed anyone who stands in his way.
While Blood and Oil aims to demystify Saudi Arabia’s 35-year-old crown prince for a Euro-American audience pre-conditioned Middle Eastern stereotypes about the Middle East, it reveals how a rift within Saudi Arabian royalty produced MBS (as he likes to be known) a man presented to the World stage as a charismatic, able leader and reformer, Blood and Oil exposes his ruthless side, his extraordinary powers, hunger for lucre, a tight relationship with the White House through President Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner. In the process, it highlights the hypocrisy of the United States, which like MBS brands itself as a champion of democracy but has no compunction when it comes to making shady deals with authoritarian regimes.
Thirty-five-year-old Mohammed bin Salman’s sudden rise stunned the world. Political and business leaders such as former UK prime minister Tony Blair and WME chairman Ari Emanuel flew out to meet with the crown prince and came away convinced that his desire to reform the kingdom was sincere. He spoke passionately about bringing women into the workforce and toning down Saudi Arabia’s restrictive Islamic law. He lifted the ban on women driving and explored investments in Silicon Valley.
MBS quickly began to betray an erratic interior beneath the polish laid on by scores of consultants and public relations experts. The allegations of his extreme brutality and excess began to leak out, including that he ordered the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. While stamping out dissent by holding three hundred people, including prominent members of the Saudi royal family, in the Ritz-Carlton hotel and elsewhere for months, he continued to exhibit his extreme wealth, including buying a $70 million château in Europe and one of the world’s most expensive yachts. It seemed that he did not understand nor care about how the outside world would react to his displays of autocratic muscle-what mattered was the flex.
Blood and Oil is a superb work of investigative journalism about one of the world’s most decisive and dangerous new leaders. Hope and Scheck show how MBSs precipitous rise coincided with the fraying of the simple bargain that had been at the head of U.S.-Saudi relations for more than eighty years: oil in exchange for military protection. Caught in his net are well-known US bankers, Hollywood figures, and politicians, all eager to help the charming and crafty crown prince.
For me this gets a huge 8/10
About Iain Fraser
Geopolitical Journalist & Risk Analyst based in Málaga City, Spain. Currently interim CIO at Argus News Group and Defence & Security Correspondent for GEOPoliticalMatters.com as well as being an authority contributor to various websites and magazines across the Defence, Cybercrime & European Political sectors. More at https://iainfraserjournalist.blogspot.com or on LinkedIn