His ambitious plan for the kingdom's future, Saudi Vision 2030 — worked out with help from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. — envisages a whole panoply of reforms. The measures range from health care and education initiatives to a $500 billion project to build a new city to proposals for treating the Saudi economy's "addiction to oil." Along with reform, MbS is taking on his country's cultural and political taboos. He wants to break the taboo against selling off any part of the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., better known as Saudi Aramco, by floating an initial public offering for less than 5 percent of the huge company. Proceeds from the sale would go toward creating the world's largest sovereign investment fund, which, as MbS described in his first interview on Al-Arabiya television, would "take control over more than (10) percent of the investment capacity of the globe" and "own more than (3) percent of the assets on Earth." MbS is also breaking the long-standing taboo that forbids women from driving.
And perhaps most significant, he wants to break the hold of the hard-line Wahhabi clerics who came to power in 1979, when militants occupied Mecca's Grand Mosque at the time of the Islamic revolution in Iran. ...
Gulf States: Stratfor on Gulf Cooperation, or lack thereof. Stratfor:
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has stopped cooperating. In fact, the bloc may be fragmenting. Kuwait hosted the 38th GCC Summit on Tuesday, but only one member — Qatar — sent its head of state to the gathering. Moreover, the GCC members decided to cancel the second day of the planned two-day summit. Yet perhaps most concerning for the GCC's future was the United Arab Emirates' announcement that it and Saudi Arabia were planning their own cooperation council for security and economic affairs. Things have been tense in the bloc since Saudi Arabia and some GCC peers' started a campaign to isolate Qatar over differences in regional policies. Of course, the GCC has been beset by squabbles among its six members — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — since its inception. But the Emirati announcement shows that the Qatar crisis is leading to a rebalancing in the bloc, one that's emblematic of the larger geopolitical forces pulling the GCC apart.
The recent strife within the GCC is driven in no small part by prevailing concerns that the United States will no longer guarantee the security of states in the Middle East. ...
Afghanistan: US, Afghan forces target Taliban operatives. Long War Journal: 'Resolute Support confirmed that one of the al Qaeda operatives targeted was Omar Khetab (a.k.a. Omar Mansour), “a senior al Qaeda leader” who served as the “second senior leader” in Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). This means that Khetab was a deputy to AQIS emir Asim Umar, the leader of AQIS since its inception in 2014.'
USA / Israel: President Trump expected to announce Jerusalem recognition. Arutz Sheva:
US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was "long overdue."
"Many presidents have said they want to do something and they didn't do it,
whether it's courage or they changed their mind, I can't tell you," Trump said.
Later in the evening, Trump will officially announce American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
The president is also expected to announce preparations for the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the crossing is not expected to take place in the coming months. ...