Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi crown prince and Minister of Defense (born 1985)

Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud (Arabic: محمد بن سلمان بن عبد العزيز آل سعود; born 31 August 1985) is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, First Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia[1] and the youngest minister of defense in the world.[2] In September 2022, he was named Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia.[3]

Mohammed bin Salman
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Tenure21 June 2017 – present
PredecessorMuhammad bin Nayef
MonarchSalman bin Abdulaziz
Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
Tenure27 September 2022 – present
PredecessorSalman bin Abdulaziz
MonarchSalman bin Abdulaziz
First Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
Tenure21 June 2017 – 27 September 2022
PredecessorMuhammad bin Nayef
MonarchSalman bin Abdulaziz
Tenure29 April 2015 – 21 June 2017
PredecessorMuhammad bin Nayef
MonarchSalman bin Abdulaziz
Minister of Defense
Tenure23 January 2015 – 27 September 2022
PredecessorSalman bin Abdulaziz
SuccessorKhalid bin Salman
Prime MinisterSalman bin Abdulaziz
Born (1985-08-31) 31 August 1985 (age 38)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Prince Salman
  • Prince Mashour
  • Princess Fahda
  • Princess Noura
  • Prince Abdulaziz
Full name
Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman
FatherSalman of Saudi Arabia
MotherFahda bint Falah Al Hithlain

Mohammad is also chief of the House of Saud royal court, and chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. He has been described as the power behind the throne of his father, King Salman.[4]

Mohammad was appointed Crown Prince in June 2017 following the decision from Muhammad bin Nayef to remove himself from all positions, making Mohammad heir apparent to the throne.[5][6][7]

Mohammad's international image is complex. Some in the Western world sees him as a hope for modernization of Saudi Arabia, with ambitious plans for the kingdom, such as 2030 Vision, but at the same time as a human rights violator. On the foreign politics, Mohammad led the Saudi participation on the war in Yemen, and made closer relations with Russia, China and Iran.

Local politics change

2030 vision change

On April 25 2016, bin Salman announced the launch of Vision 2030. [8] The vision is a main part of Saudi Arabia's plan to ensure its economic growth for the upcoming decades, specifically reducing the oil as a main source of income, and encourage economic developments on diverse sectors. [9] The vision was built around three primary aspects: a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation. [10]

As for a vibrant society, the 2030 Vision is about creating a society where the citizens are enjoying a good quality of life. Practically, to achieve this goal, the plan aims to improve the healthcare, education, and social services.

As for a thriving economy, the 2030 vision is willing to create a strong and growing economy for the kingdom. The plan aims to achieve this goal by diverse the economic sectors, investing in industries like tourism and technology.

As for an ambitious nation, the 2030 vision is about making Saudi Arabia an influences country on the world arena. The plan aims to achieve this by promoting Saudi Arabia as a global leader in areas like energy, finance, and culture, and by working with other countries to address global challenges.

Modernization change

Mohammad bin Salman believes Saudi Arabia should adopt a moderate version of the Islam. [11] During a television speech on Ramadan, bin Salman justified his views towards the Islam saying the strict views of Islam in Saudi Arabia is a major obstacle to his plans for the modernization of Saudi Arabia, such as 2030 vision. [12] bin Salman also supports holding events that were previously considered unacceptable, for example, live music performances, festival and sports competitions, such as Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, first held on 2021. [13]

Human Rights change

Since 2017, hundreds of citizens have been arrested in the kingdom, including social networks influencers, journalists, clerics, and tycoons. In addition, few of bin Salman's cousins were arrested as well. [14]

In on May 2018, seven activists was arrested, including Eman al-Nafjan and Loujain al-Hathloul. Human Rights Watch claimed bin Salman is responsible for the arrests, and the target is spreading fear among those who criticizes bin Salman agendas. [15]

In October 2018, bin Salman received global outcry for being accused of having a role in the killing of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. [16] bin Salman later interviewed to the American Television program 60 Minutes and denied the accusations. [1]

Foreign politics change

War in Yemen change

Background change

Mohammad bin Salman wants the Kingdom to play a bigger role in the region against the influence of Iran, the war in Yemen he started to show this power of Saudi Arabia.[17] In September 2014 the Houthis conquered the Yemeni capital Sana’a, which led to President Hadi fleeing the country.[17] The Saudis led the group of Arab states to bring Hadi back to power, as he had asked for help basing it on article 51 of the UN Charter and because the Houthis are close with Iran Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.[17] The Arab group was led by Saudi Arabia and had as participants Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Sudan and Morocco, but only Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are still very actively involved in the conflict.[18]

Course of the war change

The Saudis hoped that it would be a quick invasion but deeper into the land of the Houthis it showed that a quick victory for the coalition would not be the case.[18] Under President Obama the US did support but not help the Arab states, under President Trump the US became more involved.[17] While the ties between the Houthis and Iran was weak at the start of the invasion it became very strong as the war went on, and as Iran is the regional rival of Saudi Arabia stopping the conflict would mean an increase of power for Iran therefore the Saudis stay involved even though it is very costly.[18] The group of nations is now divided with the Saudis bombing in the north of Yemen and the United Arab Emirates supporting group in the south of Yemen.[19] As of 2023 peace talks between the Saudis and Houthis are happening and making progress.[20]

Relations with great/regional powers change

Russia change
President Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018

Under bin Salman rule Saudi Arabia and Russia are allies in the OPEC+, Saudi Arabia is also investing in Russia, this also leads to better relations between the two.[21] This relation has not changed since the 2022 conflict in Ukraine, with $500 million being invested in Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil after the conflict had already started even though western countries put sanctions on these companies.[22]

United States of America change
Under President Trump change
President Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017

When President Trump got to power the relations between the US and Saudi Arabia were bad, President Obama had pressured Saudi Arabia for diplomacy with Iran and to rely less on the US for defense.[23] President Trump was just like bin Salman in its view of Iran as the greatest danger in the Middle East, and also disagreed with Obama’s policy in the Middle East.[24] President Trump let other countries do their internal affairs without pressuring on human rights for example, which is convenient for bin Salman as human rights or not very good in Saudi Arabia.[23] As President Trump saw Iran as the biggest danger in the Middle East he saw the Houthis as Iranian puppets and thus supported and assisted the Saudi invasion.[17] President Trump also spread confusion about the CIA report on the killing of Kashoggi about him doubting if bin Salman really gave the order to kill and sold weapons to Saudi Arabia.[25]

Under President Biden change

When President Biden was still campaigning for president he said he would treat the bin Salman as the pariah Biden called bin Salman because of the poor human rights situation, and the killing of journalist Kashoggi.[25] One of President Biden's first acts as president was releasing the CIA report that blamed bin Salman of giving the order to kill Kashoggi, and before the report was published, President Biden called with King Salman saying he is the King and official leader of the country and not bin Salman, the Saudis rejected the report.[25] Biden also paused the sale of ammunition to the Saudi Arabia further lowering relations with Saudi Arabia.[25] In 2022 and 2023 the OPEC started producing less oil leading to negative reactions from the Biden administration.[26]

China change

The relations between Saudi Arabia and China are good as China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner and with large investments such as an Aramco joint venture of $10 billion dollar and 35 other investments worth $28 billion in total.[27] China did not blame Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Khashoggi and for the human suffering in Yemen and Saudi Arabia stays silent or says China has the right to defend itself or to fight ‘terrorism’ as the way China treats its Muslim Uighur minority.[27] That Saudi Arabia’s relation with China is good was also visible in the diplomatic deal that Saudi Arabia made with Iran in talks in China.[28]

Iran change

After the Iranian revolution in 1979, a rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the leadership over the Islamic world emerged, and after Iran tried to export revolution over the region Saudi Arabia feared a revolution.[29] It led to a rivalry but in 2011 this rivalry became much harder as uprising in the region led to the two supporting opposite sides in conflicts.[29] In 2016 after a Shi’ite cleric Sheik Nimr al-Nimr was executed by Saudi Arabia after demonstrations and the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran by protesters, this led to the cut of diplomatic ties between the two.[30] In 2023 an unexpected deal between the two was signed after diplomatic talks hosted by China, in which they would again open their embassies, bin Salman likely made this deal to support his Vision 2030 and the relation with Iran was an obstacle for foreign investment.[31]

References change

  1. "Mohammad bin Salman named new Saudi Crown Prince". TASS. Beirut. 21 June 2017. Archived from the original on 22 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  2. "Mohammed bin Nayef kingpin in new Saudi Arabia: country experts". Middle East Eye. 1 February 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  3. El Yaakoubi, Aziz (September 27, 2022). "Saudi king names crown prince MbS as prime minister". Reuters. Retrieved October 4, 2022.
  4. Transcript: Interview with Muhammad bin Salman The Economist, 6 January 2016.
  5. Nicole Chavez; Tamara Qiblawi; James Griffiths. "Saudi Arabia's king replaces nephew with son as heir to throne". CNN.
  6. Raghavan, Sudarsan; Fahim, Kareem (21 June 2017). "Saudi king names son as new crown prince, upending the royal succession line". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  7. "Saudi royal decrees announcing Prince Mohammed BinSalman as the new crown prince". The National. Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Media. Archived from the original on 21 June 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  8. "Full Transcript of Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Al Arabiya interview". Al Arabiya English. 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2023-05-09.
  9. "Saudi prince unveils sweeping plans to end 'addiction' to oil". Reuters. 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2023-05-09.
  10. "Full text of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030". Al Arabiya English. 2016-04-26. Retrieved 2023-05-09.
  11. Chulov, Martin (2017-10-24). "I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam, says crown prince". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  12. "Saudi Crown Prince Lambasts His Kingdom's Wahhabi Establishment | Wilson Center". Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  13. "Saudi crown prince attends F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah". Arab News. 2021-12-06. Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  14. Nereim, Vivian (2023-02-21). "'Equality of Injustice for All': Saudi Arabia Expands Crackdown on Dissent". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  15. "Saudi Arabia: Women's Rights Advocates Arrested". Human Rights Watch. 2018-05-18. Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  16. Hearst, David (21 June 2017). "Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's Prince Of Chaos". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Clausen, Maria-Louise (March 2019). Lynch, Marc; Jamal, Amaney (eds.). "Saudi Arabian military activism in Yemen: Interactions between the domestic and the systemic level" (PDF). Project on Middle East Political Science. 34: 76–80.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Darwich, May (28 February 2020). "Escalation in Failed Military Interventions: Saudi and Emirati Quagmires in Yemen". Global Policy. 11 (1): 103–112. doi:10.1111/1758-5899.12781. ISSN 1758-5880. S2CID 214514841.
  19. Parker, Tyler B. (31 October 2021). "Transforming Yemen? Divergent Saudi and Emirati Intervention Policies". Middle East Policy. 28 (3–4): 159–171. doi:10.1111/mepo.12573. ISSN 1061-1924. S2CID 240490323.
  20. Yaakoubi, Aziz El; Alghobari, Mohammed (2023-04-14). "Houthi official says Yemen peace talks made progress, further rounds planned". Reuters. Retrieved 2023-05-16.
  21. Demmelhuber, Thomas (2019-10-02). "Playing the Diversity Card: Saudi Arabia's Foreign Policy under the Salmans". The International Spectator. 54 (4): 109–124. doi:10.1080/03932729.2019.1678862. ISSN 0393-2729. S2CID 213923320.
  22. Cafiero, Giorgio. "Analysis: The Russia-Ukraine war and the view from Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 2023-05-16.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Rogin, Josh (2021-10-28). "Opinion | Trump resets U.S.-Saudi relations, in Saudi Arabia's favor". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-05-16.
  24. Ahmadian, Hassan (2018-03-04). "Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Age of Trump". Survival. 60 (2): 133–150. doi:10.1080/00396338.2018.1448579. ISSN 0039-6338. S2CID 159008963.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 "Biden Administration Launches Reset in Relations with Saudi Arabia, Withdraws Support for Saudi-Led War in Yemen". American Journal of International Law. 115 (3): 545–553. 21 July 2021. doi:10.1017/ajil.2021.29. ISSN 0002-9300.
  26. Cooban, Michelle Toh,Mohammed Tawfeeq,Anna (2023-04-02). "Oil prices surge after OPEC+ producers announce surprise cuts | CNN Business". CNN. Retrieved 2023-05-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Saudi crown prince defends China's right to fight 'terrorism'". Retrieved 2023-05-16.
  28. "How Beijing Helped Riyadh and Tehran Reach a Detente". 2023-03-17. Retrieved 2023-05-16.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Saudi Arabia and Iran: The struggle to shape the Middle East. Manchester University Press. 2022-10-25. ISBN 978-1-5261-5084-4.
  30. Houghton, Benjamin (2022-01-03). "China's Balancing Strategy Between Saudi Arabia and Iran: The View from Riyadh". Asian Affairs. 53 (1): 124–144. doi:10.1080/03068374.2022.2029065. ISSN 0306-8374.
  31. Farouk, Yasmine (30 March 2023). "Riyadh's Motivations Behind the Saudi-Iran Deal". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 16 May 2023.