Saudi Arabia’s New Crown Prince to Consolidate More Power

Secretary Tillerson Meets With Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud in Jeddah/ Photo: State Department
Secretary Tillerson Meets With Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud in Jeddah/ Photo: State Department

The king of Saudi Arabia decreed the suspension of the then crown prince Mohammed Bin Nayef on 21 June. He replaced him with his own son deputy crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman. It turned out to be an rapid shift in the palace but the news was not surprising. In the last two years, Bin Salman has been acting as the de facto ‘leader’ of the regime. His leadership in Yemen attack against the Houthis, decision to privatize part of Saudi oil company and much talked about Saudi vision 2030 that aims to reduce the country’s dependency on oil bought him  the necessary influence in the regime he needed to prove him as an ambitious young man of an old regime.

The newly appointed crown prince probably had the biggest world media attention during Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. In his first foreign trip as the president of USA, Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the country. This arms deal with the USA, however, is regarded as a big success in Saudi Arabia. As Mohammed Bin Salman has warm relation with President Trump, he is regarded as the broker of this ‘successful deal’.

In the last two years, Bin Salman has been acting as the de facto ‘leader’ of the regime.

This ‘success’ along with the influence of his king father projected him as the future leader of the country even before his father officially issued an overnight decree. After the decree issued, Bin Salman is now the crown prince of Saudi Arabia that puts him first in the line to the throne. But it’s no secret that the crown is already now the de facto decision maker of the country. A country of old kings is now led by a young and ambitious crown prince which is a new experience for the custodians of two Muslim holy sites.

Who is Mohammed Bin Salman?

After the death of late king Abdullah, his brother Salman became the king of Saudi Arabia. He picked Muqrin as his crown prince and his own son as the deputy crown prince. In the same year, just a few months later, king fired his brother and replaced him with Mohammed Bin Nayef on 29 April 2015.  Salman’s motive to build his own dynasty came in light by then. Under the shadow of the king father, Bin Salman gradually becomes unstoppable.

As Mohammed Bin Salman has warm relation with President Trump, he is regarded as the broker of a ‘successful arms deal’.

Mohammed bin Salman led Saudi strike in Yemen. This attack to defeat the Houthi forces in Yemen has been bloody. Hundreds of people have been killed. Recently UN has reported that more than a thousand people have died because of Cholera in Yemen as people are deprived of medical care and other utilities.

Saudi Arabia’s radical change in Israel policy is largely indebted to Mohammed Bin Salman . He normalized the relation between the nations. Israel has been one of the happiest countries on Bin Salman’s promotion as the crown prince. Prime Minister Netanyahu recently has invited Bin Salman to visit Israel. Israel is now seeking to launch an unprecedented flight route to Saudi Arabia for pilgrims taking part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, recently Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara confirmed.

 Bin Salman’s political ripeness was demonstrated by the time he managed to win the support of Trump who vehemently criticized Saudi Arabia during his campaign for presidential election.

What Lies in Future for Bin Salman and the Gulf?

Amid the rejection of Saudi Arabia, reports have been viral that Mohammed Bin Nayef has been under house arrest ever since he was fired from his position. Bin Salman’s ambition for kingship, however, hardly shy away to assert such allegations as he moves to grip more power at home. He is expected to be the new strongman of Saudi Arabia if the plans so far favors him.

Bin Salman’s tenure as a king could be a stable one given that he ensures regional stability. Given that soft palace coups in Saudi Arabia are a frequent story, he will be in need to hold a strong grip of power. Uniting the princes who are thousands in number could get really tough as different actors are keen to seize the dominion.

An unstable gulf might worsen Bin Salman’s position as the crown prince. The prolonging war in Yemen already sparked international outcry as thousands of deaths have been reported. The half a decade long Syrian civil war has cost Saudi Arabia a great fortune, but their side of the belligerent groups has not gained much in Syria. With continuous rise of Iran’s influence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, Saudi Arabia has much to worry over its new gulf policy.

The latest development of the situation asserts that Qatar has little chance to give in to the tough thirteen conditions Saudi bloc has been demanding as ‘non-negotiable’.

The escalating relation with Qatar has little to benefit Saudi Arabia than serving more of Iran’s interest. Being severed by the gulf countries, Qatar was expected to give in as they rely on Saudi foods. But Qatar is now provided with foods from Iran and Turkey along with increasing US support. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent endeavors to mediate the gulf crisis has put Saudi Arabia at unease as he stressed, unlike President Trump’s initial tweets, to end the crisis mutually. The latest development of the situation asserts that Qatar has little chance to give in to the tough thirteen conditions Saudi bloc has been demanding as ‘non-negotiable’.

The new Qatar-Turkey axis can get expensive for Bin Salman if he reclines to unify the gulf states. As Sunni Muslim countries regards Saudi Arabia as their spiritual leader, they want to see Saudi Arabia in the role of mediator. Bin Salman’s policy in Yemen and Qatar challenges Saudi Arabia’s leadership in the Sunni world. In the meantime, Turkey is growing to challenge Saudi’s supreme dominance as the boss in the region. Given the current rifts in the gulf, Bin Salman’s ambition to a stable kingship has lots to ‘rethink’ and ‘reorganize’.


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About Masum Billah 22 Articles

Masum Billah is a Staff Writer for The GeoStrategists. A Graduate from the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka, Masum Billah is a human rights activist. He writes columns on human rights, foreign policy, and terrorism.

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