Challenges, Prospects for Saudi Crown Prince Coming to Power

2022/01/30 | interview, political, topics

Strategic Council Online - Interview: An analyst of Saudi affairs says the most important challenges of Mohammed bin Salman on the way of coming to power are outside the Al-Saud dynasty. He noted: The main threat to his kingdom is the Saudi people; because now their lifestyle and attitude are changing. If bin Salman cannot manage the internal situation well, he will face many problems.

Speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Amin Parto, referred to the weight and political importance of bin Salman’s domestic opponents in Saudi Arabia and their influence ability, saying: One of the most important of them are those who will lose as a result of his succession; including Nayef bin Abdulaziz and other sons of the king who hoped for coming to power in the succession hierarchy.

He described the other group as thousands of princes outside the hierarchy who had previously benefited from material gifts, wealth and rents in various forms and have now been deprived of such privileges, noting: Bin Salman did not consider it possible to continue the rent-seeking economy and taking advantage of a very small class of billion-dollar fortunes due to the economic landscape and the changing climate of Saudi Arabia, and thus reduced the economic benefits and rents that the causal and relative people benefited from.

The expert on Saudi Arabia affairs said: The third group opposed to bin Salman are those who were ideologically and religiously closer to Wahhabi Islam and were considered representatives of that group; because, in fact, formation of Saudi Arabia was based on the agreement and alliance that was formed between Al Saud as a political and military force and Wahhabism as a religious and ideological force; but when bin Salman holds the biggest festivals with a Western flavor in that country, the Wahhabi opinion is ignored.

Parto continued by stating that those three groups together cannot create a problem for the kingdom and succession of Mohammed bin Salman: Mohammed bin Salman has tried to highlight the Arabian and Saudi identities instead of the Wahhabi and Islamic identities. One of the issues that helped strengthen Saudi nationalism is the war it has waged in Yemen, which is entering its seventh year.

He added: In addition, in recent years, the roots of jihadism and Wahhabism were very strong and popular among the Saudi youth, and they were even sent to other countries such as Afghanistan and Chechnya; but now we are witnessing changes in the new generation that, with carelessness and hedonism, are not prejudiced against ideological issues.

He considered the most important challenges of bin Salman on the way of coming to power as being outside the Al Saud dynasty and said: It seems that in the current situation, the possibility of replacing “Nayef bin Abdulaziz” as one of the options to succeed King Salman, given the difficulties in which he is located, is very low. Lack of support from some regional and trans-regional actors, such as the United States and Britain, for Mohammed bin Salman was one of Nayef’s hopes, but now, with the passage of seven years since he became the Crown Prince, the issue has been waned.

Parto pointed to the serious international criticism of Mohammed bin Salman over the war of Yemen and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, adding: Bin Salman’s opponents saw Biden’s coming to power in the United States as putting more pressure on Mohammed bin Salman and thought that choosing a king in Saudi Arabia would go the other way, but there was no change, because the Biden administration did not take active measures in this area, and although it put political pressure on Saudi Arabia, it did not mean that he wanted to change the issue of succession with intervention from outside.

The researcher on Saudi affairs stated: The main threat to the kingdom of Mohammed bin Salman are the Saudi people; because now their lifestyle and attitude is changing. If he does not manage the internal situation well, with the current trend, the people will demand political participation and from time to time, they will demand more political freedoms and civil rights than social freedoms. Establishment of political and legal institutions under civil rights and political freedoms will also be among the demands of the people of that country.

He continued: The world system is not looking for an unstable Saudi Arabia, because all countries, due to the conditions of this country, agree that an unstable Saudi Arabia is not in the interest of any party, not even its enemies and rivals, and such huge amount of weapons, wealth and facilities can drag the region and the world into chaos and disorder.

Regarding the dominant foreign policy approach of Mohammed bin Salman, Parto also emphasized: With the coming to power of Mohammed bin Salman, we will not see a major change in Saudi regional and international policy.

Referring to the continuation of war and tensions with Yemen, he said: We will not see a specific change in Saudi Arabia’s relations with countries in the region and, of course, Saudi Arabia’s strategic relations with the United States, Britain and France. At the same time, the country is trying to strengthen its relations with Russia and China.

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