The Saudi Shakeup: What The Changes In Leadership Mean For The Region

Saudi Arabia's King Salman promoted his son to crown prince on Wednesday, replacing the heir to the throne and changing the country's succession process.

The royal reordering also brought to an end the career of the previous crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, who served as interior minister and was widely respected by Saudis and their foreign allies for dismantling Al Qaeda's networks inside the kingdom.

The Saudi Press Agency confirmed that 31 out of 34 members of Saudi Arabia's Allegiance Council chose Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom's crown prince.

Salman had already set a precedent for removal of a crown prince when, in April 2015, he appointed Mohammed bin Nayef and fired Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz bin Saud, who had assumed the post under the late King Abdullah.

The former Crowned Prince, Muhammad bin Nayef was the First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior of Saudi Arabia.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite-majority Iran are bitter rivals that back opposing sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Bin Salman also chaired the country's Council of Economic and Development Affairs, coordinating socio-economic policies in the kingdom such as education, housing, and women's rights.

Salman is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the youngest minister of defense in the world.

Notably, Prince bin Salman accompanied a royal delegation on a March visit to Washington DC to meet President Donald Trump's administration, while his predecessor Prince bin Nayef did not.

The rise of Prince Salman under King Salman had shattered decades of tradition in the royal family, where respect for seniority and power-sharing among branches are time-honored traditions.

It is still early to predict if the move will cast away other branches of Al Saud from power of ruling the country and keeping it only among the children of the current king. Saudi Arabia and Iran are now fighting to be the regional superpower in the Middle East.

Bin Salman's appointment is expected to attract further investment as Saudi looks to enter the MSCI emerging markets index in 2019.

The footage which Newsweek Middle East obtained from a video circulating social media outlets show Prince MBS, as many call him, sharing hands with bin Nayef, before kissing his hand, then kneeling for the older royal's blessings before rising again as the new crown prince.

  • Zachary Reyes