Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Contemporary Saudi Arabia in Pompeo’s Memoirs

I read most of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recently published memoirs “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love.” The book is full of insights into a sensitive period during which the media unfortunately pushed a leftist agenda, falsifying facts, misleading the people, and inciting them.

Nothing in the book caught my eye quite like his assertion that the Trump administration dealt with the world as it was, not as we wished it had been.

Indeed, what distinguished the Trump administration more than anything else, especially with regard to the political and diplomatic issues that Pompeo took the lead on, is that it tried to understand how peoples and their states are different and how they complement each other. Without giving out orders or intervening, it respected the approach each state took to managing its own affairs and sought to maintain its sovereignty.

In my mind, this shows that the administration had a strong grasp of how modern international relations work - that the administration understood that interests come first.

Pompeo discussed a broad array of topics tied to global security, military issues, intelligence, the media, legal questions and many others. The most prominent subject he shares his insights into, in my view, is the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US. The significance of this deeply rooted historical relationship for the region and the global economy can only be appreciated by those who have a profound understanding of politics. And it was no surprise to see him clear up many matters that had been obscure without taking sides or showing any kind of bias.

Pompeo did not hide his admiration for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and how he has managed the country and plans to address future challenges. In fact, he stressed that Crown Prince Mohammed is a reformist who would prove to be “one of the most important leaders of his time,” adding that he is “leading the greatest cultural reform in the Kingdom’s history.”

He also praised Crown Prince Mohammed, by saying that despite his youth - he had been 31 years of age when he became crown prince – he proved that he was an intelligent actor through his actions in what was a ruthless and complicated political environment.

Pompeo does not make these statements as a spectator impressed with what he sees or a citizen who can feel the direct impact that changes have had on his life. Rather, he praises Crown Prince Mohammed based on his experiences as a foreign official working for a great power who has worked with the Crown Prince on resolving several issues and crises under an array of different conditions. He saw first-hand and documented the pioneering and proactive approach that Crown Prince Mohammed took to dealing with challenges.

The most difficult of the challenges facing the modern Saudi project is that traditional politicians and those with limited imagination cannot comprehend the speed at which the project is moving forward or the ideas behind it. Pompeo, on the other hand, quickly understood what was happening and saw the leader of a social revolution, economic boom, and political and cultural leap in the Crown Prince.

Mohammed bin Salman is the driving force behind (Vision 2030), a plan that involves major economic and social reforms in a country that has been dominated by the production of oil and hardline Islamic values. Some have said that Mohammed bin Salman has been very slow to implement his reforms. But no over leader has ever moved so quickly, said Pompeo. “And I venture that no other leader could have.”

Nonetheless, despite the importance of everything Pompeo has said and the fact he documented in his memoirs, nothing he mentioned is news to us - we who are very well aware of what we are doing. However, its significance lies in the fact that the book, as time goes by, will turn into a reference for the objective new outlets and serious researchers who will write about the Kingdom in the future and look for the secret to the success it achieved despite all the failed attempts to stand in its way.