Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman elevated to Crown Prince

Reuters reports: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman made his son his successor on Wednesday, removing his nephew as crown prince and giving the 31-year old almost unprecedented powers as the world’s leading oil exporter implements transformational reforms.

A royal decree appointed Mohammed bin Salman crown prince and deputy prime minister. He retains defense, oil and other portfolios.

It said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a counter-terrorism chief admired in Washington for putting down an al Qaeda campaign of bombings in 2003-06, was relieved of all positions. [Continue reading…]

Bloomberg reports: In his lightning rise to power in two years, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has shaken things up in ways not seen since the founding of the kingdom 85 years ago.

Abroad, he escalated the war in Yemen and this month cut ties with neighboring Qatar. At home, he instigated an economic overhaul that’s popular with foreign investors, but harder to swallow for some Saudis. At 31, he is heir to the throne, effectively running the world’s largest oil exporter now and likely for decades to come.

A grandson of the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, his ascendancy stunned Saudi watchers more used to seeing one geriatric king follow another in a kingdom used to cautious change, a low-profile foreign policy and generous handouts to its population.

“He’s ambitious, bold, thinks big, but is running very high risks,” said Yezid Sayigh, senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “He hasn’t been rewarded for performance. He’s being rewarded because he’s King Salman’s favorite son and that ultimately he would become positioned to become the next king.” [Continue reading…]

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