German intelligence has issued a statement stating that Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming that largest destabilizing force in the Arab world.
According to the BND intelligence service, internal power struggles within the Saudi royal family and the desire to emerge as the leading Arab power threaten to make the key Western ally a source of instability.
“The current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy,” BND said a memo.
The memo focused particularly on the role of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 30-year-old son of King Salman who was recently appointed deputy crown prince and defense minister, and how the concentration of so much power in his hands “[harbors] a latent risk that in seeking to establish himself in the line of succession in his father’s lifetime, he may overreach,” the memo notes.
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“Relations with friendly and above all allied countries in the region could be overstretched.”
Mohammed is believed to have played a key role in Saudi Arabia’s decision to intervene in the civil war in Yemen earlier this year. Both he and King Salman want Saudi Arabia to be seen as the leader of the Arab world, according to the memo.
Analysts describe the jockeying for position amongst the Royal Family as a sort of Saudi Arabian style “Game of Thrones” and that the Sunni kingdom’s rivalry with its Shia-neighbor Iran has “reinforced by mutual mistrust and religious-ideological enmity,” the memo warns.
The memo also states the conflict between the two counties is being fueled by a Saudi loss of faith in the U.S. as the dominant strategic power in the region and in its ability to provide protection.
Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and Syria was driven to show the county was “willing to take military, financial and political risks in order not to fall behind in regional politics.” While deposing Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad remains a priority, the kingdom has been accused of supplying arms and funding to jihadist groups fighting in Syria, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).