Bloomberg reports: When the new Saudi king installed his own team, the most eye-catching appointments involved two princes young enough to be steering the world’s biggest oil exporter for decades to come.
One is a familiar figure to Saudi Arabia’s global allies. Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, heads a new security council and was made deputy crown prince, putting him in line to become the first king from his generation of royals. The other is less well known outside of Saudi Arabia. Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman’s son, takes charge of an economic council in addition to posts as defense minister and gatekeeper to the royal court.
It’s an accelerated rise to power by the standards of the House of Saud, whose latest ruler inherited the throne in a time of turmoil. Saudi Arabia is battling to preserve an embattled ally in Yemen, turn the tide of Syria’s civil war, and fend off threats from Islamic State. An oil slump has left the kingdom, which has boosted spending to ward off political unrest, facing its first budget deficits in years.
While Mohammed bin Nayef’s appointment wasn’t unexpected, Mohammed bin Salman “did surprise many, due to his youth [34 years old] and relative inexperience,” said Fahad Nazer, a political analyst at JTG Inc., a consultancy in Vienna, Virginia. “Bestowing that many responsibilities on him at such a young age is a clear indication of the trust that King Salman has in his son.” [Continue reading…]