In recent weeks, specifically on September 27, 2022, Saudi Arabia witnessed the appointment of Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MbS) as prime minister, thanks to King Salman’s willingness to confirm the prince as heir to the throne.
This could allow for royal immunity from the United States, as the heir to the throne is involved in some legal proceedings due to the Khashoggi Affair.
For those unfamiliar, the Khashoggi Affair saw, in October 2018, a Saudi journalist die at the hands of government agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The killers numbered as many as 15, and the man’s body was dismembered and disposed of.
An almost strategic formality
With such a formality, Mohammed Bin Salman could even bring the country closer with the administration of Joe Biden, who had previously criticized involvement with the Khashoggi case.
In fact, monarchy does not normally provide for the appointment to the throne of an heir who gets powers that only the monarch should have, as in this case.
Moreover, such formalities are even more important in a monarchy. Nevertheless, the decree did not state any particular reason behind the appointment, but the press only reported that the king is slowly transferring power to the heir.
Among other things, the king emphasized that he will remain in charge of tasks that are solely the monarch’s responsibility, such as in the case of important invitations from institutions, although in given circumstances the heir will be able to take over.
In April 2016, Prince Mohammed had already unveiled the Vision 2030 program, a very real vision for the future of Saudi Arabia, with the sole aim of improving it and making it a hub that can connect as many as 3 continents.
Specifically, they want to privatize the economy and try to move away from oil dependence by 2030. In addition, there are plans to establish an e-government system to improve citizen service delivery.
In addition to this significant program, which we have already discussed here, Prince Mohammed has made other important reforms, dramatically changed the economy and gave more rights to women, such as the right to drive.
However, there has been much dissent from the people, due to massive repression. One example can be traced back to November 2017, a time when 4 ministers, 11 princes, and several prominent businessmen were arrested at the behest of MBS.
The case was presented as an anti-corruption purge, but the individuals happened to be his direct rivals.
As you have surely guessed, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy is continuing to put its eggs in many baskets.
The goal, most likely, is to consolidate MbS’s power, especially in a situation of international market instability. In fact, on September 24, US diplomats visited MbS to discuss about the energy market instability, revamping the old Saudi-American partnership.
The same is happening with the Europeans, who are looking for win-win solutions for hydrocarbons and renewables supply. This, of course, will help MbS’ strategy for its rebranding.