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Why the arrest of Saudi Arabia’s second richest man is causing shockwaves in Ethiopia

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Sheik Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi owns 4.7% of Ethiopia’s economy and employs 14% of its private workforce. Saudi authorities have arrested the Kingdom’s second richest man Sheik Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi, as part of its wide-ranging anti-corruption drive. Saudi Arabia has arrested the country’s second richest man, Sheik Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi, as part of a wide-ranging ‘anti-corruption’ drive. The specific charges against the 71-year-old Ethiopian-born billionaire, who holds Saudi citizenship are unclear, but he joins dozens of Saudi royal figures, ministers and businessmen being detained at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. However his arrest is also causing shockwaves more than 1,000 miles away in Ethiopia, where he is the single most important figure in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, is behind the unprecedented purge, which began on 4 November, to clean up what is widely seen as decades-deep rooted corruption in the kingdom. Those detained include at least 11 princes, two of whom are nephews of the king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The Saudi government described the detentions as “merely the start of a vital process to root out corruption wherever it exists”. US President Donald Trump backed the moves in Riyadh earlier this month. He tweeted: “I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing. Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”

Cutting deals with the state

Many of those detained are understood to be cutting deals to pay back billions to the Saudi government and win back their freedom. Investor Sheik Al-Amoudi, whose net worth is estimated at $10.3bn, will share quarters with the kingdom’s richest man Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose $16.7bn wealth has come from a broad range of holdings including stakes in Citigroup, Twitter and the Four Seasons hotel group. But Sheik Al-Amoudi’s detainment set alarm bells ringing in Addis Ababa, where his investments represent a significant part of Ethiopia’s economy. Hussein Al-Amoudi’s investments in Ethiopia, which span food, energy and retailing, are estimated at $3.4bn, representing 4.7% of Ethiopia’s current GDP. His companies employ around 100,000 people, around 14% of all those who work in Ethiopia’s private sector, one of the fastest growing in Africa.

 

The five-star Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh where dozens of royal figures, ministers and businessmen are detained by Saudi authorities
 

The five-star Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh where dozens of royal figures, ministers and businessmen are detained by Saudi authoritiesGetty

 

“The Sheikh’s influence on the Ethiopian economy cannot be underestimated,” according to a leaked diplomatic memo from the US embassy to the US Treasury Department. It added: “The Sheik has cherry-picked the best of the companies sold to date.” Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, held a news conference on 10 November, the first he had hosted in two months, following Al-Amoudi arrest. He attempted to reassure the country that Amoudi’s investments in Ethiopia would not be affected by the moves in Riyadh.

An influential figure

A spokesman for the Ethiopian Investment Authority added: “The country’s economy can never ever sustain itself by a single investor – it’s a 100 million population for heaven sakes. How can it just depend on a single investment?” But economic observers say the potential seizure of Al-Amoudi’s assets could have a great affect on Ethiopia. Henok Gabisa, a visiting academic fellow at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia and an Ethiopian researcher, said that the Addis Ababa government are now “panicking”, reported Middle East Eye. Dr Awol Allo, a law lecturer at the Keele University, called Al-Amoudi “an influential figure”. He added: “He is a person whose presence or absence might affect the country’s economy.” Al-Amoudi was born in Ethiopia in 1946 to a Ethiopian mother and a Saudi father, but at 17 he emigrated to Saudi Arabia to work with relatives, becoming a full Saudi citizen in 1965. His breakthrough deal came in the late 1980s when Saudi Arabia was trying to strengthen its security during the Iran-Iraq war. It offered lucrative tenders on a series of underground oil storage facilities, which saw Al-Amoudi step in after Western firms dithered over taking up the project. Al-Amoudi’s influence grew in the country of his birth in the early 1990s following the coup that ended the 17-year-old Marxist Derg regime. As Ethiopia switched to a free market economy, Al-Amoudi moved quickly to acquire large stakes in industries that had been nationalised. He controls over 70 firms in Ethiopia that cover a wide-range of activity spanning coffee and tea, meat, bottling, mining and tourism. If Sheik Al-Amoudi is forced to cut a deal with the Saudis that includes some of his substantial Ethiopian assets, that could see key parts of the booming north African country’s economy up for grabs.

 

Source: IBT

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Saudi Collapse?

 

In early March 1938 in a dusty corner of the Arabian desert, Max Steineke finally had the breakthrough he was hoping for.

 

Steineke was the chief geologist for the California Arabian Standard Oil Company (CASOC), a venture owned by what we know today as Chevron.

 

Steinke was convinced that massive oil reserves were beneath the sands. He just couldn’t find any.

 

His prized oil well, what was called Dammam #7, had been riddled with mishaps, accidents, and delays, and it was costing the company a LOT of money.

 

Steinke was about to be shut down when, finally, on March 4, the well started gushing. And Saudi Arabia was never the same.

 

Today oil constitutes more than half of Saudi Arabia’s GDP and more than 90% of government revenue… and it is the reason why Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s richest nations as measured by per-capita GDP.

 

But all that success also comes with risk: what happens when the wells run dry? Or when the oil price falls?

That’s what they’re dealing with now.

 

Saudi Arabia has been in and out of recession over the past few years due to the steep decline in oil prices. And the government is desperate to raise revenue.

 

Last year the Saudi government announced “Vision 2030,” a long-term plan to diversify its economy and reduce dependence on oil revenue.

 

The plan includes developments like a new beach resort on the Red Sea where women will be allowed to wear bikinis. This is pretty forward thinking, folks.

 

The government also announced that it will sell a portion of the national oil company, Saudi Aramco, through an IPO on a major stock exchange– a move they believe will generate $100 billion for the government.

 

But none of these options fixes the short-term problem. Saudi Arabia needs cash. Now.

 

So over the past few weeks they’ve found their source: theft.

 

Under the guise of a ‘corruption crackdown’, the government of Saudi Arabia has arrested hundreds of its wealthiest, most prominent citizens, and frozen more than 1700 bank accounts.

 

The government claims that these men illegally acquired their wealth through graft and corruption.

Now, to be fair, it’s true that there’s an enormous amount of corruption in Saudi Arabia.

 

I lived in Riyadh years ago when I was a young intelligence officer, and the corruption was obvious from Day 1.

 

For example, I remember mid-level Saudi army officers explaining how they would accept bribes and kickbacks to award small contracts to local suppliers.

 

These were military commanders who were essentially stealing from their own units.

 

For us it was unthinkable. But for them it was normal. They discussed it openly with each other, as if they were trading tips on how to steal even more.

 

Saudi billionaire Prince al Waleed (one of the people who has been arrested) also used to speak quite candidly about how he made his initial fortune through bribes and kickbacks.

 

So it’s clear that a lot of people in Saudi Arabia have made money in illicit ways.

 

It does strike me as a farce, though, to see extremely corrupt bureaucrats and politicians arresting corrupt businessmen… and then confining them to the very swanky Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

 

The timing is also suspect– the Saudi government needs the money and cannot afford to wait for their long-term plans to generate income.

 

They’ve already started borrowing pretty heavily, issuing close to $40 billion of debt in a single year– that’s a big chunk for a country with a $650 billion GDP.

 

But they know they can’t keep borrowing forever… hence the ‘anti-corruption purge.’

 

They’re now telling their captives that they’ll be free to go if they ‘voluntarily donate’ 70% of their wealth to the government.

 

Estimates vary for the amount of money the government will bring in through this theft; the lowest amount I’ve seen is $100 billion (again, an enormous sum in Saudi Arabia).

 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Saudi government is targeting as much as $800 billion… an amount that’s larger than the entire Saudi economy.

 

To put that number in context, it would be like the US government seizing $22+ trillion of Americans’ wealth– more than the value of every company listed on the New York Stock Exchange combined.

 

All of this, naturally, is taking place without any trial or due process. They’re just seizing and freezing assets.

 

http://www.valuewalk.com/2017/11/saudi-arabia-government-collapse/

 

 

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^ Your political prognostication is way of the mark.

 

MBS is not a crook and Saudi Arabia is not collapsing any time soon. People have been talking of its doom for more than 30 years now.

 

Your fantasies won't come true, I know maryooley love to see everyone collapse and self destruct like they did. But that won't happen. Go look for another anarchy.

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12 hours ago, anoo kale said:

^ Your political prognostication is way of the mark.

 

MBS is not a crook and Saudi Arabia is not collapsing any time soon. People have been talking of its doom for more than 30 years now.

 

Your fantasies won't come true, I know maryooley love to see everyone collapse and self destruct like they did. But that won't happen. Go look for another anarchy.

 

The man who bought a $400 million dollar yacht isn't a crook? Where do you think that money come from, certainly not from his piggy bank I would guess. The Saudi Royals are as crook as any conman on a corner street. They all take the oil money from the people and spend it like kids in candy store. Besides it's not the Maryooleey who wants to see Saudi Arabia's destruction nor do they have any influence of what's happening there, we are only discussing what's on the news. And if anyone is in fantasy it's that fat belly kid prince who's trying to bite something he can't chew. Locking up his cousins and other relatives to consolidate power is one thing, but to try to act as the deal maker in the Middle East is completely something out of his league. The Saudis don't have the influence, the institutions, or the military might to be a power in the region. Everything this young novice touches has caused them a backlash and political setbacks. Look at Yemen, a poor country that he orchestrated the misery it's now in and with little gain both politically or militarily. Saudi Arabia is the third largest military spenders in the world and their 4+ year old war in Yemen with their American made toys has thus far produced 50 miles of territory gain against lightly armed rebel group. Not to mention destruction they caused to both human and infrastructure. 

 

Then came the Qatar fiasco and the debacle of Hariri's resignation. And now his end goal is to topple the Iranian regime with the help of Israel. What a world of fantasies isn't it. 

 

So if I were you I wouldn't bet on MBS or Saudis on a match even if they are 2 goals up. They are economical decline, internally in confusion, and lost any power (if they ever had it ) or influence in Arab capitals. Iraq and Syria, once powerful Arab nations have both collapsed with the help of Saudis and other Gulf Arabs and are now in the hands on Persian Mullah. Yemen and Lebanon are also in the sphere of Iranian influence.  So do care telling us about this fat kid's political suicide mission?

 

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Nice discussion here..

 

MBS want to eliminate Al Saud dynasty with Bin Salmaan one which will start with him. His father is the last among the sons of C/caziiz Binu Saud who ruled the kingdom for the last sixty years. The throne suppose to rotate among the cousins with Mohamed Binu Nayef, as the new generation of Al Saud, but that scenario was eliminated by king Salmaan by making his son the crown prince. 

 

In order to create a Salmaan dynasty he must purge and eliminate all his cousins starting with  the children of late king Abdullah who hold influential positions in the army and other places.  As Gheele said,  biting to many things he can not chew might bring him down eventually, but if he succeeds , he will create a forty year dynasty and absolute dictatorship  that will rely on brute force. In order to achieve this dictatorship he must eliminate or change three ideas and groups: the Wahabi Culema; the princes and billionaires, and finally the middle east.

 

The Wahabi doctrine.

 

He already targeted to dismantle and eliminate the collision that formed the Wahabi kingdom. On one side you have Al Saud dynasty running the affairs of the state without question, and the Wahabi Culema who safe guard and spread the Wahabi doctrine around the globe specially in the poor and war torn countries, like Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistani tribal area and Northern Nigeria. This alliance is over two hundred years old which was formed by Sheikh Mohamed Abdulwahab and Al Saud warlord of the seventeen century.

 

There is total separation of power among these two groups. Now, MBS said that his government is intended to finish off WAhabi doctrine and return to the original common Islam known to all. HE already arrested those who resisted and might finish them them all. I, Galbeedi would politely ask Mr.MBS to ask his Sheikhs to call back all their representatives in Somalia and the horn of Africa and ask them  to abandon the Wahabi doctrine that begotten the Al-shabaab destructive force that are making havoc in Somalia. I do believe that it does not take much other than one single Fatwa released by the Grand Sheikh of Makah , and we might have a lasting peace. Although the international aspect of the terrorism will still remain in the country, the ideological one might be finished with  the decline of the Wahabis in the gulf.  Since this group was  guided and financed by the government, they might change their Wahabi colors and quietly disappear, but if they fight back, expect total mayhem. " Soomaalida dalka joogta ee khudbadahooga Jimcaha Sacuudiga lagu soo diyaariyana fariin cusub ayaa loo so dari, taas oo naxariis iyo nabad wadata , ka dibna dadka ayey dhinac ka raaci, Ma maqli jirtay dhagdheer dhimatoo dhulkii waa nabad"

 

The Princes and billionaires.

 

The cousins and the princes might number thousands but they do not have any support among the people, which makes them easy to target and eliminate. People will be told that do you want thousands of princes or one king " waar ma 15000 oo Amiir oo xoolihiini boobay ayaad donaysaan mise hal Boqor oo ummadda xooleheeda illaaliya" With the public media leading the charge everyone will say, Oh we prefer only one king" .

 

Some Saudi insiders believe the arrest of billionaire crooks had given him huge support among the public. Just like the princes , these men have stolen billions through graft, kickbacks and royal connection. Imagine prince Waleed Bin Talaal is the second largest share holder of Twenty Century Fox, the parent company of Fox New Chanel, the want that is attacking Muslims and Islam day in and day out. Saudi analysts also believe MBS ha kept close contacts with tribes and told them that the money we were looking is sitting right here in our back yard.

 

Reliable reports say that the interrogations of the princes and billionaires is handled by American contractors based in Dubai. The local police and Saudi investigators do see these men as important public and royal figures so they would not put them huge pressure, but the contractors will do any thing to cooperate including water boarding and hanging them upside down. All their accounts in UAE and Saudi Arabia were frozen , and MBS want 70% of their wealth in order to get their freedom.

 

Remaking the middle east.

 

As many of you said the Saudis do not have the institutions to remake or organize their own state let alone others. Absolute monarchies do not build institutions which is based on knowledge and merit. Despite the disaster Syria and Iraq might rebuild and come due to their instituionsm, but if war comes to the gulf monrachies it will be over soon.

 

War of adventure has weakeened great countries like America since 1991. The difference is America has two big oceans and these wars are fought thousands of miles away. With the war in Yemen burning , the vlatile situation in Syria, MBS want to target Lebanon to destroy Hisbullah and challenge Iran.

 

his demise might come from his political adventures to try and remake the middle east. His effort to force the Lebanese prime minister to resign has back fired, so does his Yemen war. He could have invaded Northern Yemen and take Sana years ago but decided to unleash air strikes and destruction of the country which only create chaos and hatred of the Saudis.

 

Finally, it  will not be the elimination of the Wahabis, his cousins and princes, or the billionaire crooks who might destroy him but the Israeli led action of targeting Iran that might lead to  the end of hubris of Mohamed Binu Salman.

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4 hours ago, Gheelle.T said:

The man who bought a $400 million dollar yacht isn't a crook?

 

May be he is a crook, he just may be a more efficient crook. If he is smart and reforms his economy, his lavish spending will be a bucket in the ocean. Now when you have a 5000 plus princes and their relatives all mooching on the state then it turns into a major drain.

 

Quote

 

Besides it's not the Maryooleey who wants to see Saudi Arabia's destruction nor do they have any influence of what's happening there, we are only discussing what's on the news.

 

No I know maryooley well, they have fantasies of anarchy and mayhem. They see collapse everywhere. 

 

Quote

And if anyone is in fantasy it's that fat belly kid prince who's trying to bite something he can't chew. Locking up his cousins and other relatives to consolidate power is one thing, but to try to act as the deal maker in the Middle East is completely something out of his league. The Saudis don't have the influence, the institutions, or the military might to be a power in the region. Everything this young novice touches has caused them a backlash and political setbacks. Look at Yemen, a poor country that he orchestrated the misery it's now in and with little gain both politically or militarily. Saudi Arabia is the third largest military spenders in the world and their 4+ year old war in Yemen with their American made toys has thus far produced 50 miles of territory gain against lightly armed rebel group. Not to mention destruction they caused to both human and infrastructure. 

I thought you were smarter than this, they had no choice in Yemen, the Iranians were closing in on them. What were they are they supposed to do? It is very unfair to lay blame at their feet for the Yemeni war. Remember the Houthis were on the cusp of taking over the whole of Yemen from the north to south with Iranian support, controlling the ports and all the vital infrastructure. For KSA, that is existential security threat. That threat has been rolled back somewhat, so the campaign is not as bad as some people are painting it. Still, no one can deny the tragedy that befell the civilians but the order of the blame is 1. Ali Saleh 2. Iran and 3. Saudi Arabia in distant third. Your not addressing the issue of the malevolence and hegemonic ambition of the Iranians. They should stop interfering in Arab states.

Quote

Then came the Qatar fiasco and the debacle of Hariri's resignation. And now his end goal is to topple the Iranian regime with the help of Israel. What a world of fantasies isn't it. 

Saudi Arabia and its allies are correct in bringing Qatar to heel, this impish irresponsible double dealing statelet had to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Their pro Iran antics, interference in other GCC countries' affairs through Al Jazeera was too much. 

 

Hariri is a fool, he is a giving Hezbollah dominated Lebanon the legitimacy it needs and he is not doing his community a service. 

 

Topple the Iranian regime ? :D Your'e not serious. The Israel bogey too. 

Nimankan duulanka ku ah dalkiisa iyo diintisaba maxaad ugu diidantahay inuu la dagaalamo.

I would do the same as MBS and even be bolder in taking the fight to the devious hegemonic Persians. 

 

 

Quote

So if I were you I wouldn't bet on MBS or Saudis on a match even if they are 2 goals up. They are economical decline, internally in confusion, and lost any power (if they ever had it ) or influence in Arab capitals. Iraq and Syria, once powerful Arab nations have both collapsed with the help of Saudis and other Gulf Arabs and are now in the hands on Persian Mullah. Yemen and Lebanon are also in the sphere of Iranian influence.  So do care telling us about this fat kid's political suicide mission?

 

 

He is trying to reform his country and economy, that is commendable, I'm not Saudi but I would like for them to succeed. I'm not a hater. The collapse of Sunni power has to do with the disastrous Iraq war and the removal of the counter weight to Iranian ambitions in the region. 

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