Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ISIL, AQAP, Saudi Arabia - and lots and LOTS of money

Last Sunday I posted an article titled 'Wheels within wheels in the Middle East', in which I postulated that the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist movements ISIL and AQAP were almost certainly planning an attempt to raid Saudi Arabia, and possibly even take over the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, while that nation's rulers were in a state of transition following the death of its King.

Today I came across a fascinating article by John Robb at Global Guerrillas offering an additional perspective on why Saudi Arabia would be such a tempting target for the jihadists.  I think he makes a very strong case.  Here's an excerpt.  (Note:  the acronym ISIS is interchangeable with ISIL, referenced above.)

ISIS still hasn't entered the big leagues.  To do that, it needs to do one thing.  It needs Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia offers one thing to the jihadi entrepreneurs that no other place can offer.  It's not Mecca and Medina.  Those holy sites, although extremely important to the cohesion and legitimacy of the jihad, come in a close second to the real goal. 

To the jihadi entrepreneurs consumed 24x7 with making enough money to keep ISIS going, Saudi Arabia is the end game.  Almost unlimited amounts of loot.  A mountain of loot.  Enough loot to finance the unlimited expansion the jihad.   A chance to mint new Emirates by the boatload.

To these entrepreneurs, this is the IPO (initial public offering) of the Century.  An event so financially fruitful it makes the IPOs of Google, Facebook, and all of their Internet brethren pale in comparison.  Given this trajectory, the only question is when? When will ISIS pivot south and go IPO?  Soon.

There's more at the link.  Go read.  It's worth your time.

(In case you're wondering, Saudi Arabia was reported to have cash - cash - reserves of over $740 billion in November last year . . . and that's not counting the personal wealth of its thousands of princes, their gold and silver, their works of art, and so on.  You're probably talking well over a trillion dollars in easily accessible, readily convertible cash and hard assets - not to mention one of the largest oil reserves in the world.  Loot?  Heck, yeah!  LOOT!)



Anonymous said...

You've missed several rather important points, namely that many of Saudi Arabia's assets are not held inside the borders of their territory, and the fact that the oil wells and other essential facilities are both wired for destruction and exist within a mostly Shiite area of the country. ISIS breaching the borders and taking over will net it exactly what is there at the time of the takeover, and any further income on oil will be minimal. Saudi Arabia would basically go back to Year Zero, and rapidly depopulate down to the level that was present when the House of Saud took over. This isn't exactly accidental, either. Saudi Arabia is more a family business with territory instead of a sovereign nation. Push the House of Saud out, and you're going to be left with only one real resource, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Not to mention, I can't see the expats sticking around much after the ISIS takeover, which is really going to be what destroys them. No expats, no labor force, no management. Result? Mass starvation within a year or two, probably sooner, since ISIS will have to loot everything and sell it on, internationally.

I predict that if they take Saudi Arabia, the only really lasting event is going to be mass starvation in the Third World, as the price of fertilizer and fuel goes through the roof once Saudi oil goes off the world market. And, getting that industry going again isn't going to be at all easy--Many of those wells are not going to do well, production-wise, once disrupted.

Coconut said...

And as everyone knows, that's the thing to make the boys get up and shoot.

Rolf said...

Agree with what the first commenter said, mostly. If it gets taken, then ISIL doesn't really get much. OTOH, fighting to take the wealth of the House of Saud from them will draw a LOT of sharks. And invading the ME for the oil for *real* is more likely. After the initial price-shock, it'll help the rest of the oil-producing world hugely by driving prices up. It would make some of the lefties realize who one of the real enemies is.

Hmmm... That might make a good book.

Punzdeleon said...

re: Anonymous
Does ISIS understand this? The lure of loot has moved many a mind. After M went to Medina Islam turned to raiding and looting. A lot of Arabs said, "What a religion!"
Peter, I am fully aware and am grateful that Muslims worldwide usually prefer to only practice the higher ethics of Islam.

Old NFO said...

Interesting and a lot of their $$ are in Swiss banks... And in briefcases and suitcases that travel with them...