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What’s Behind KSA’s Shakeup?

What’s Behind KSA’s Shakeup?
folder_openMiddle East... access_time6 years ago
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Local Editor

The shake-up in the Saudi kingdom found its way into Western analysis.

According to the Gaurdian, "Saudi Arabia's real-life game of thrones has taken a dramatic turn with the surprise designation of Mohammed bin Nayef, its formidable interior minister and counter-terrorism chief, as the crown prince and heir to the kingdom."

What’s Behind KSA’s Shakeup?

"This latest shakeup, announced on Wednesday, is as much about retrenchment as reform as Riyadh's royals confront potentially existential challenges."
The daily further viewed that "the promotion of the king's son, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, 35, to the position of deputy crown prince - or second-in-line to the throne - looks in part like a reward for his recent work as defense minister overseeing the Saudi-led aggression'smilitary campaign against Yemen. Both Mohammed and Bin Nayef, the king's nephew, are grandsons of the kingdom's founder monarch, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud."

"The replacement of the veteran foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, 75, by a younger non-royal, Adel al-Jubeir, who is currently the Saudi ambassador to the US and a long-time Washington insider, strengthens the sense of generational change. By dismissing his half-brother and Abdulaziz's youngest son, Prince Muqrin, 69, as crown prince, Salman has performed the equivalent, in British terms, of defenestrating Prince Charles and installing Prince William as the Prince of Wales."

At the age of 79, King Salman may not expect his reign to be lengthy - which is one reason for imposing his will and establishing a clear, undisputed succession early on. The changes mark the first time that power has passed beyond the control the numerous sons of Abdulaziz, who died in 1953.

55-year-old Bin Nayef's elevation is likely to be welcomed in conservative and establishment circles at home and abroad. Bin Nayef will continue as the interior minister in charge of Saudi Arabia's 200,000-strong security forces. Not coincidentally, Salman announced on Wednesday a one-month salary bonus for all military and police personnel.

Yet bin Nayef, is no reformer. "There is little in his record to suggest new thinking on the human and civil rights failings, including women's rights and capital punishment that continue to besmirch the country's reputation."

Prince Mohammed, who continues as the defence minister, is more of an unknown quantity. Saudi Arabia's unusual display of energy and leadership in assembling a military coalition to fight in Yemen may reflect his influence. On the other hand, the bombing campaign has yet to achieve its objectives and has been widely criticized for inflaming regional tensions and causing many avoidable civilian deaths.

Bin Nayef and the monarchy face a range of other problems, extending from tense relations with the Obama administration over Syria and its attempted
rapprochement with Tehran, to plunging oil revenues and the thwarted aspirations of younger Saudis, in a country where 60% of the population is 21 or younger. Blocking private Saudi financial and other support for extremists such as Isis is another unfinished task for Bin Nayef.

Even more troubling for Riyadh's real-life answer to Lord Tywin Lannister is the apparent return of terrorism to Saudi soil.

Source: Guardian, Edited by website team