ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef
In the recent history of jihadi extremism and the struggle to end its violent agenda, two individuals have emerged as pivotal opponents: the leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Interior Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. While al-Baghdadi has ambitions to extend the power of the Islamic State beyond the Middle East, Crown Prince bin Nayef is one of the United States’ closest allies in the effort to defeat the spread of jihadi terrorism.
On November 4, Brookings Fellow William McCants and Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel discussed the rise, influence, and futures of these two opponents, al-Baghdadi and Crown Prince bin Nayef, in the Middle East and beyond. McCants and Riedel will use visual presentations to profile both men.
Following the presentations, BBC international affairs correspondent Kim Ghattas moderated the discussion, focusing on U.S. and Western policy options in the fight against jihadi extremism. The event was inspired by the pair of complementary Brookings Essays by McCants and Riedel, entitled “The Believer” and “The Prince of Counterterrorism,” respectively.
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Initially, it seemed Turkey was seeking a bargain with or financial support from Saudi Arabia. But it increasingly appears that Turkey is seeking to inflict maximum damage on [Mohammad bin Salman].
Both Egypt and the UAE have come out defending the Saudis. Perhaps they also played some role in the operation. There is no evidence of that aside from the suspicious stops in Cairo and Dubai.