Kingdom in Crisis? Saudi King Prostrates Before France in Anti-Qatari Gambit

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The French newspaper Le Monde has reported that Riyadh may try to halt the possible sale of Russian S-400 missiles to Qatar for reasons of securing Saudi airspace.

The King of Saudi Arabia is alleged to have written a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron asking him to help prevent the sale of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems and warning that Riyadh could resort to drastic measures, reports Le Monde.

According to the newspaper, which claims to have been able to obtain the letter from a French source close to the situation, King Salman expressed “deep concern” about the ongoing negotiations between Doha and Moscow, noting that the positioning of S-400 anti-aircraft systems in Qatar may be a threat to the security of Saudi airspace.

In this case, the letter allegedly warns that “the kingdom will be ready to take the necessary measures to eliminate the defense system, including military actions.”

According to Le Monde, the king ended his letter by calling on President Macron to prevent the agreement on the S-400 and preserve stability in the region.

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Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also signed an agreement with Russia to purchase these missiles, and Saudi Ambassador to Russia Rayed Krimly explained that Riyadh is currently working on “the technical details of the agreement.”

In December 2017, the Qatari ambassador to Russia, Fahad bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, revealed in an interview that Doha was negotiating with Moscow on the purchase of the Russian anti-aircraft systems, in particular S-400 Triumph and Pantsir-S1.

However, the current state of these negotiations remains unknown and it is not clear when the S-400 could actually be positioned in Qatar.

In 2017 Saudi Arabia attempted to besiege the micro-kingdom of Qatar to force it to align with its foreign policy. These efforts were unsuccessful and instead saw Qatar draw closer towards Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main enemy in the region, which has also been negotiating to acquire Russian S-400’s.

If Le Monde’s sources are reliable, then this means that the Saudi King has essentially prostrated before France for help against its neighbor, and this comes as yet another in a string of unbecoming incidents afflicting the Saudi dynasty in recent days. As Saudi Arabia’s King has supposedly been begging France for help against Russian sales to Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has disappeared in the aftermath of an alleged coup. At the same time, the Saudi Crown Prince has been openly threatened by Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. As if in sync, the exiled Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan Al Saud recently told Western media that the the Saudi regime is engulfed by “humiliating” infighting which which could plunge the kingdom into a state of “chaos” and “terrorism.” Taken together, all of these instances suggest that Riyadh might be in the middle of some potentially chaotic political shuffling. 

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