In elevating his son Prince Mohammed to next in line to the throne, Saudi King Salman approved a strategic realignment with the US under Donald Trump and handed sweeping new powers to the 31-year-old who has been highly critical of regional rival Iran.
The move wasn’t totally unanticipated as a possibility, but has far-reaching consequences.
Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, took an assertive stance early on. He had, however, been reported intermittently to be in very poor health.
King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud promoted Mohammed bin Salman, his youngest son, to crown prince.
Tikit did not exclude that Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud will follow the policy of the United States and the UAE, which declared “war” against political Islam. Saudi Arabia is a key driver of an OPEC deal with non OPEC producers, like Russian Federation, to curb production in an effort to end a supply glut and drive prices higher. Since the removal of King Saud in 1964, orderly successions passed along the sons of the kingdom’s founder, Abdulaziz.
Mohammed bin Salman, who will take on Nayef’s old job as interior minister, was relatively unknown in the kingdom when his father came to power 2 1/2 years ago.
The elevation of Mohammed bin Salman marked the culmination of several years of change within the power structure of the Saudi royal family, the New York Times reports, as some older princes have found themselves sidelined and some younger princes have steadily accrued more responsibilities.
Prince Mohammed played a key role in the recent diplomatic offensive against Qatar, as well as pressing ahead with the war in Yemen.
So far, in Saudi Arabia oil prices remain depressed, squeezing the economy of this rich state, so if Mohammed’s multipronged plans succeed, Crown Prince will become a historic, transformational figure.
Jared Kushner with his wife Ivanka Trump during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Pledging allegiance to the new crown prince has been one of the high trending hashtags on social media since the news was announced.
All allowances, bonuses and financial benefits for civil servants and military personnel cancelled, amended or suspended in September 2016 have been restored and backdated by a royal decree issued by King Salman (“Saudi Arabia slashes ministers’ pay, cuts public sector bonuses”, Reuters, Sept. 26, 2016).
And there may be some in Saudi Arabia who have their own doubts, too.