Trump and Saudi king rely on 30-something son, son-in-law

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was elevated to crown prince on Wednesday, replacing his cousin in a sudden announcement that confirms King Salman's 31-year-old son as next ruler of the world's leading oil exporter.

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

Although Mohammed bin Salman's promotion to crown prince had always been expected among those who follow the royal family closely, the timing was a surprise, and puts the kingdom's future in relatively untested hands.

A handout photo made available by the Saudi press Agency shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sitting as royal family members and other officials pledge allegiance to him, at the Royal Palace in Mecca.

Its leadership was critical of comments by Prince Mohammed last month that the "battle" should be taken into Iran, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei labelling the Saudi leaders then as "idiots".

Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was also appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and will continue to hold his post of Defence Minister, according a royal decree cited by the state media.

'That kind of clarity lowers the risk.

On Wednesday, Prince Nayef was also removed from his role as head of domestic security. "There's no question who's going to be in charge".

Following the crisis, Iranian officials had accused the US of setting the scene for the escalating Gulf diplomatic crisis during President Donald Trump's recent trip to the Saudi Arabia.

The White House said President Trump congratulated the new crown prince in a phone call Wednesday and "discussed the priority of cutting off all support for terrorists".

Financial analysts said the change gave further assurance that key parts of radical reforms to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil would continue.

Unsafe regional conflicts are also a challenge, as Saudi Arabia and Iran compete for dominance in countries like Yemen, Saudi's southern neighbor, which has been devastated by a Saudi-led air campaign to quell an uprising that the Saudis say is backed by Iran.

The King also emphasized Morocco and Saudi Arabia's honest brotherhood and the distinguished relations based on fruitful cooperation and effective solidarity, noting Morocco's keenness to further strengthen their ties in various fields. In spite of this, six kings since the death of the first Saudi monarch in 1953 have been his sons, including the current King Salman.

The crown prince aims to privatise the economy, making it less reliant on oil, as it's the second largest producer of oil. Lacroix said that among the thousands-strong royal family there does not seem to be much opposition to Mohammed bin Salman's appointment, which has concentrated power in one man.

  • Leroy Wright