Between the crash in the price of oil and the Kingdom’s flailing war with the neighboring Houthis, the Saudi’s fortunes have taken a precipitous turn for the worse. Both crises have been handled with the impressive ineptitude, long trademarked by the House of Saud. Their scheme to bankrupt their geopolitical and economic rivals, Russia and the U.S. fracking industry respectively, via flooding the oil market with cheap crude, has backfired gloriously.
The war in Yemen has likewise become an unmitigated disaster, an enormous economic drain on the country’s finances at a time it can ill afford it. Besides the economic damage, the war has also managed to highlight once again the amusing mixture of cowardice and incompetence that has been an indispensible part of the Saudi military tradition for decades. Despite having some of the most advanced and expensive equipment available (as well as the assistance of U.S. military trainers), the Saudis have found themselves hard pressed and frequently bamboozled by the Houthis, an ethnic militia armed with little more than small arms and the occasional homemade Scud.
The Saudi’s aren’t just losing battles in Yemen, but even on their own southern frontier, where Saudi patrols are frequently ambushed, and Saudi cities bombarded in cross-border raids by the Houthis. Observing the unfolding of Saudi military operations in Yemen is a lot like watching a show poodle get torn apart by an undersized, feral pit bull.
These problems, formidable as they are, still remain little more than distractions compared to the Kingdom’s ticking demographic time bomb. Saudi Arabia’s population is officially 31 million. However, its actual citizenry numbers little more than 20 million. The rest are migrant laborers, who hail from 3rd world countries like Indonesia and do the dirty jobs most Saudi’s won’t touch.
Of the remaining natives, more than 70 percent are under 30 years old and have been raised on a steady diet of Wahhabist fundamentalism, which has been the inbred Kingdom’s top export (next to Brent Crude) and brought the global community such notable success stories as the Islamic State and al-Nusra. Furthermore, a huge number of these aspiring young Wahhabists are unemployed.