Germany’s foreign intelligence agency BND has released a disparaging report on Saudi Arabia. Their assessment says the country is destabilizing the Middle East with proxy wars in Yemen and elsewhere in the region.
The BND document entitled “Saudi Arabia – Sunni regional power torn between foreign policy paradigm change and domestic policy consolidation” singled out Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as trying to strengthen his place in the royal succession while putting Saudi Arabia’s relationship with erstwhile regional allies in jeopardy.
“The careful diplomatic stance of older members of the Saudi royal family has been replaced by an impulsive policy of intervention,” the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) said.
The spy agency accused bin Salman, second in line to the throne, and his father, King Salman, as trying to create an image of Saudi Arabia being the leader of the Arab world. The BND added that bin Salman’s quest to cement his place in the nation’s leadership could also irritate other members of the royal family.
As another reason for the shift in policy, the BND also cited a perceived change in the role of the United States as the guarantor of stability in the face of growing influence exerted by Iran.
Since King Salman’s succession to power in January 2015, there’s been a more forceful response to the regional standoff between Iran and Saudi Arabia largely set in motion by Prince Mohammed. The BND said that this could mainly be observed in Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen as well as its increased support for Syrian rebels in a bid to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Since the limited release of the report on Wednesday (I have not yet found an original), the German Foreign Ministry has repudiated the BND findings.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Friday it was crucial that Berlin has a “coherent position” on the role of Saudi Arabia in the region.
The assessments by the BND that were published do not reflect this coherent position,” Seibert said. “Those who want progress on the pressing issues in the region, and there are many, need constructive relations with Saudi Arabia.”
Friday the German parliament approved the deployment of up to 1,200 soldiers against the Islamic State. The government mandate was endorsed by 445 parliamentarians, with 146 others voting against and seven abstaining. This week the British House of Commons also endorsed military action against the Islamic State in Syria, the RAF launched its first attack hours later.