Along with tolerating Turkey's abuse of the NATO umbrella, coddling the Saudis significantly weakens the USA's moral standing and claim to act as the world's policeman. And there is no shortage of volunteers to take over this role, or of nations who would love to take the Kingdom down a notch, if not to give it a good drubbing.
Plot spoiler alert!
My Extreme Nemesis scenario boils down to turning the Hijaz with its twin omphaloi of Mecca and Medina (formerly Yathrib) into an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland. Some of the more spirited online comments on news items exposing Saudi backwardness even tout the idea of turning the whole Kingdom into molten glass, though clearly creating such a large window onto the Earth's glowing core would be over the top and over budget.
Of the five pillars of Islam, the Hajj pilgrimage is the only one directly operable manu militari. Whether the cult could survive on the remaining four pillars hinges in part on how much its finances depend on revenues from the pilgrimage business.
The simplest mechanism would obviously be cruise missiles fired from a submarine in the Red Sea. There is an Islamic prophecy I read somewhere that the Qureishi clan's long-running b'n'b business would be terminated from the direction of Ethiopia, just across across the water. More specific is a Russian YouTube video, which I can no longer find, that simulates a two-pronged sea-borne missile attack without being specific about the target. It could be the effect of the poor animation, but the sub commander was walking in a funny way.
For the moment a nuclear scenario may seem farfetched, but a few recent developments seem to be working towards clearing the way to making it less inconceivable.
My first alert that things could be moving in this direction came when, after years of stonewalling the USA, Iran accepted the American nuclear deal, apparently wholeheartedly and in a verifiable manner, following just one week of Russian diplomacy. I asked myself, what could Russia have possibly offered Iran in exchange for abandoning its home-grown nuclear program? And in what way are Russia's plans advanced by such an initiative?
And of course, what would those plans be?
Then there are the recent articles about Russia replacing its submarine fleet, and test-firing its latest Kalibr missiles in the Arctic. The missiles travel at Mach 5, far too fast to be intercepted by the expensive air defences that the Saudis have acquired from America.
And now this! Holy War declared by the Patriarch of the Holy Russian Church!
I give it two years.
Of course, as my wife smugly pointed out, I have been wrong before. As when I predicted that the Saudis would invade Syria on February 29th (to avoid having to deal with anniversary riots every year) after their Northern Thunder exercise involving 350,000 troops. Fortunately they chickened out, and I don't mind being wrong.
So tell me I'm wrong! Use the comments box below. And if I'm right, remember where you saw it first!