Saudi king deposes crown prince, names son as successor

Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars – the highest religious body in the ultraconservative Sunni kingdom – has endorsed Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ascension as crown prince.The previous crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew and a counter-terrorism chief admired in Washington for putting down an al-Qaida campaign of bombings in 2003-06, was relieved of all his posts, according to the decree.The young prince, known as M.B.S., emerged from obscurity after his 81-year-old father ascended to the throne in January 2015.The new crown prince also has used fighting words to describe Iran.The new succession lineup and the sidelining of the former crown prince settles the competition between the two men.After Prince Mohammed’s elevation was announced, Saudi Arabia’s stock market surged more than 3 percent. But the abrupt shift comes as the Saudi kingdom faces hard economic and foreign policy challenges. Even while entering politics, Mohammed Bin Salman eclipsed three older half-brothers from King Salman’s first wife. With Saudi Arabia the world’s biggest crude exporter, the younger Salman backed a policy that aimed to cripple USA shale drilling by driving down prices but created the current glut.State media in the gas-rich Gulf state said Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani had sent a cable of congratulations to the Saudi leadership.He is responsible for running Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, dictating energy policy and spearheading plans for the kingdom to build an economic future after oil. His rise comes at a crucial time for Saudi Arabia as it is locked in a battle for regional influence with arch rival Iran, bogged down in a controversial military intervention in neighbouring Yemen and at loggerheads with fellow US Gulf ally Qatar. Qatar’s neighbors accuse it of supporting terror groups – a claim Doha denies. “Due to his adventurous characteristic, bin Salman can trigger new crises in the region”, he said.According to the Daily Telegraph, he “is an ambitious and aggressive reformer who hopes to transform his country’s economy and lead it to a more assertive position on the world stage”.It is clear that Iran will respond to a more aggressive approach by the USA and its main Sunni Muslim-Arab ally in a confrontation. Iran and Saudi Arabia are embroiled in a regional struggle for political and religious influence.US President Donald Trump congratulated the young royal during a phone call in which the White House said they committed to close cooperation on “security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond”.On Wednesday, Trump discussed the Qatar row with Saudi Arabia’s newly-appointed crown prince, on a call during which he also offered his congratulations to the new heir to the throne. In February, he received a counter-terrorism award from the Central Intelligence Agency.Missing some content? Care to comment?