A Saudi Prince who has vowed to start World War 3 with Iran has become next in line to the kingdom’s throne in a controversial shakeup of the line of succession.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announced that 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman is next heir to the throne – despite the fact that this will likely result in a catastrophic war in the Middle East.
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CNN reports: The newly-anointed crown prince was also appointed deputy prime minister and will continue in his role as defense minister, in which he has overseen the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Was this unexpected?
While the announcement may have taken many by surprise, the move had been a long time coming. The fact that the King had handed his son so much power internally in recent years gave Saudi watchers the impression that he was being groomed for leadership.
It felt like only a matter of time before the now former crown prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, 57, was outmaneuvered. There had also been speculation that the crown would need to drop down a generation at some point.
The youthful Mohammed Bin Salman — who was already second in line before the reshuffle — was the obvious choice to modernize the monarchy while consolidating power.
What does it mean for the US?
The key US priorities in the Middle East are stability and predictability, and the appointment of the relatively inexperienced Mohammed bin Salman is undoubtedly a shift away from that.
As defense minister, the prince has taken a hard line with Qatar, Iran and Yemen — and the US should expect to find itself increasingly caught up in the ebb and flow of the region’s ever-increasing political tensions.
The current diplomatic crisis between the Saudis and Qatar — Riyadh is trying to isolate Doha over claims that the latter supports terrorism — is a study in diplomatic tightrope-walking for the US.
Washington is publicly backing the Saudis over the spat — which has been led on the Saudi side by the new crown prince — while at the same time maintaining its large military base in Qatar.
Now, with a more gung-ho crown prince set to take charge, it is fair to assume that the Saudis will double down on its hardline positions on Qatar, Iran and the Yemen conflict.
What does it mean for Iran?
The move will further destabilize an already dangerously unstable situation.
Earlier in June, the Iranians pointed the finger at Saudi for a terror attack in their capital, Tehran. They then used this as a reason to fire missiles into Syria — a shot across the proverbial Saudi bow.
Tension between the two has been slowly building recently, and Mohammed bin Salman has taken a hard line against Iran. “We are a primary target for the Iranian regime,” he said in one recent interview. “We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia.
Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for them in Iran.”
Again, without more experienced voices around him, the new crown prince will feel emboldened to pursue his vision of a larger Sunni alliance, in which Saudi Arabia is the unchallenged leading power in the Middle East. This could lead to a dangerous miscalculation.