Trump congratulates Saudi Crown Prince on his promotion
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 25, 2017,
Jun 25, 2017, 16:11
King Salman of Saudi Arabia promoted his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, to be next in line to the throne Wednesday, further empowering an ambitious leader who has upended the ruling family at a time of deep Saudi involvement in conflicts across the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the June 21 reshuffle sparked speculation on Twitter about a possible future abdication by the octogenarian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in favour of his son, whose youth and dynamism have appealed to younger Saudis who make up the majority in society and are often eager for change.
The Saudi royal family are Sunni Muslim, and according to the Jerusalem Post, bin Salman also commented that the struggle for influence between the Sunni Muslim kingdom and the revolutionary Shi'ite theocracy ought to take place "inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia".
Risky 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 president and the crown prince committed to close cooperation to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond", the White House said in a statement about their telephone talks. But the abrupt shift comes as the Saudi kingdom faces hard economic and foreign policy challenges.
Mohammed bin Salman has been seen as the architect of the anti-Qatar drive.
Mohammed is also defence minister with overall responsibility for the kingdom's military intervention in Yemen. Iranian news outlets pointed to one anonymous Twitter account, which claims to share secrets from the Saudi elite and is now claiming that King Salman will step down within days. While bin Nayef fell into a diminished role. Saudi Arabia is a key driver of an OPEC deal with non OPEC producers, like Russian Federation, to curb production in an effort to end a supply glut and drive prices higher.
The king removed his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, as his successor by royal decree and relieved him of all of his positions.
For its part, Iran's state TV, when it isn't claiming that bin Salman is propped up by Israel or the U.S., described the appointment of bin Salman this week as a "soft coup in Saudi Arabia". This is while political analysts question the diplomatic acumen of MbS who has created messy conditions at home by harshly clamping down on the human rights of Saudi minorities in the Eastern Province and along its borders by supporting Yemen's fugitive president Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and blockading Qatar, which even the United States has begun to question.