PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN'S

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1 PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN'S U.S. VISIT A S A P R A C A N A LY S I S

2 ON THE AGENDA Vision 2030 Diversification and Privatization Attracting American Investors Syria Yemen Iran Combatting ISIS Sharing Intelligence Muslim Coalition 2

3 Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and President Barack Obama in Riyadh, April A Prince's Outreach Saudi Arabia s deputy crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman is set to make another visit to the United States, where he is reportedly meeting with officials in Washington DC, then heading over to New York and Los Angeles to meet with investors and corporate figures. The visit comes in the middle of a strain in the Saudi-U.S. relationship, a chaotic war in Yemen, Iranian intervention and a prolonged slump in oil prices. The prince has previously met with President Obama in the White House on May 2015, and again on April 2016 when Obama was in Riyadh for the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit. Over the past few months, Saudi Arabia has been subject to a relentless media campaign that aims to undermine its public image both locally and internationally. Central to this campaign is a sustained attempt to link the Kingdom to the events of 911/, regularly promoting the passing of a bill that will allow the families of victims to sue the Saudi government for damages, citing the now infamous 28 redacted pages from the 911/ commission report as substantial evidence. A charge that Riyadh has strongly denied, it called for and encouraged the release of the 28 pages ever since In a recent interview for Al-Arabiya, CIA chief John Brennan said: I think the 28 pages will be published and I support their publication and everyone will see the evidence that the Saudi government 3

4 had nothing to do with it, It was found later, according to the results of the report, that there was no link between the Saudi government as a state or as an institution or even senior Saudi officials to the Sept. 11 attacks. On Security Saudi Arabia has publicly expressed its frustration with the Obama administration with regards to American policy in Syria and Iraq. The Saudis feel that America is creating a vacuum in the region that is being filled by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is now publicly admitting to the presence of general Qassem Suleimani on sovereign Arab land, who currently leads Iraqi militia fighters known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. These militias were condemned by the coalition of Arab tribes in Iraq for its overt sectarianism and unabashed use of force. With videos surfacing on social media of Iraqi militia fighters torturing and maiming civilians escaping ISIS in cities like Tikrit and Fallujah, terror financiers have been compelled to capitalize on this display of sectarianism to raise funds under the questionable umbrella of aiding our persecuted Sunni brothers and sisters in Fallujah. Defense Secretary Ash Carter with Prince Mohammed Bin Salman at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 11,

5 The Saudi Ministry of Interior recently warned its citizens against donating money to unlicensed groups or individuals and announced that it will enforce the terror financing law as it did in past events. Regarding Syria, the Saudis feel that the Geneva talks must proceed in order to produce a tangible outcome that will end the 5-year conflict. Meanwhile, the Iranians and the Russians continue their unconditional support for the Assad regime, which is now responsible for more than deaths, 12 million displaced, and many imprisoned, starved, tortured, barrel bombed or chemically attacked. As for Yemen, peace talks sponsored by the United Nations in Kuwait are underway, as the Houthi rebels and the internationally recognized Yemeni government are still negotiating a political settlement to the Yemeni crisis. Meanwhile, the Arab coalition set its sights on AQAP, and considered fighting the group as a priority, pounding their stronghold Al-Mukalla and conducting special ops by Saudi and UAE forces resulting in the killing of as much as 800 AQAP members in the last 3 months of the year-long war. The Saudi led Arab Coalition was also recently removed from a UN secretariat report on violating Children's rights. After much controversy, Saudi Ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah al-mouallimi said the removal was irreversible and unconditional. On the agenda will likely be the common goal of defeating ISIS. Prince Mohammed leads a 35 Muslim nation military coalition to defeat terrorism, with the young prince describing terrorism as a disease in the body of Islamic Nations. He created a new mandate that simply concludes: fighting terrorism in Islamic countries should be done by Islamic countries. 5

6 Akhi Pillalamarri, writer for The National Interest, told SAPRAC that the Deputy Crown Prince will likely focus on specific issues, especially Yemen and Syria, but may also raise larger concerns and questions about future American intentions regarding its role as a firm security provider in the Gulf region, especially from threats emanating from Iran. He anticipated that the prince will request that the US do more in Syria against both ISIS and the Assad government, but this is more of a ritual than a process that is expected to yield a change in US policy in Syria, which has been relatively constant over the past few months. Nonetheless, both the US and Saudi Arabia are likely to agree to the need to continue to fight and defeat ISIS. On Economy Despite many differences with the Obama administration, Saudi officials are keen on cooperating with the current and upcoming administration to put an end to current friction between the two countries. Prince Mohammed comes to Washington not only for diplomacy but more importantly, for business. Dr. Thomas Mattair, Executive Director of the Middle East Policy Council, told SAPRAC that the prince is a driving force behind much of the Kingdom s domestic reform plans, its assertive regional policies, and its defense planning. During his meetings in the USA, he can rightly point out that the Kingdom s economic reform plans Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Plan -- offer significant trade and investment opportunities for American corporations, that the Kingdom and the United States have serious common interests in shaping the outcomes of regional conflicts, and that the solid bilateral security partnership is mutually beneficial. All of this provides an opportunity for the United States to strengthen further this very important decades-old American-Saudi partnership. 6 6

7 The visit comes at a pivotal moment for the Saudi economy, as it is headed for its most significant transformation in recent history, including sweeping financial reforms, privatization and diversification. This transformation was outlined with the recently announced Vision 2030, which aims to wean the economy off of its dependency on oil. It includes an IPO for Aramco (ranging from 1% to 5%), which is poised to be the world's largest, as well as creating a path towards a $2 trillion sovereign fund. The IPO has been described as the biggest fee event in Wall Street history by The Wall Street Journal. Saudi Aramco is estimated to be worth as much as all publicly traded oil companies in the world. The company is reportedly already attracting many American corporations and bankers to its headquarters in Dhahran. American companies historically enjoyed secure access to the Saudi Arabian market. Saudi Aramco was originally created by a merger of American oil companies SoCal, Texaco, and Exxon, keeping the door open to American businesses and attracting corporations like General Electric, which recently announced its own plans for Vision 2030, partnering with multiple Saudi firms on digital manufacturing, aviation, energy, marine industry, oil and gas manufacturing, and gas turbines. Fahad Nazer, senior political analyst at JTG, told SAPRAC that the prince had previously met with several heads of American companies and in 7

8 essence gave them a preview of what is now known as Vision While Saudi economic planners will encourage foreign investors from around the globe, the fact that Prince Mohammed spoke to CEOs of American companies as early as he did suggests that the long record of success of American companies in the kingdom has created a level of comfort and trust between Saudi and American businesses that has helped sustain bilateral relations over the past seven decades. That aspect of the relationship appears poised to not only continue but to expand. More recently, Saudi Arabia s Public Investment Fund (SPI) announced the largest ever investment in Uber with a reported $3.5 billion. The investment exhibits the main goal of the SPI, which is to facilitate non-oil related growth, and to help the economy diversify, which in turn leaves many to speculate on where the SPI might invest next. Vision 2030 included plans for the tourism industry, arts and museums, civil aviation, transportation and most importantly, technology. In the future, the Saudi Public Investment Fund might make significant purchases in a wide array of business ventures and capitals. This visit is expected to mend any remaining strain between the two nations by promoting broader regional cooperation and stronger bilateral relations. More importantly, it will attract American investors to come to the Kingdom and contribute to the economy s diversification, moving the nation one step closer to Prince Mohammed Bin Salman s vision of a financially stable, socially dynamic and economically robust Saudi Arabia. DISCLAIMER: THE ANALYSIS PREPARED BY SAPRAC IN THIS ARTICLE IS INDEPENDENT AND DOES NOT REFLECT THE VIEW OR POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF SAUDI ARABIA. 8

9 References: < < < > < > < > < > < > < < > < < < < < < Written by: Yousef Al-Naimi Designed by: Mahmoud Megahed 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 1025 Washington DC Tel :

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