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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Mohammed bin Salman [known as MbS] appears to be the solution to the longest running succession crisis in modern history. the Kindgom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud in 1932, and governed thereafter by a succession of his sons. By the end of the 20th Century, the sons were becoming elderly, and scarce. Long before that time, concerns emerged that the absence of clear succession rules beyond this generation might produce a period of instability in the Kingdom. King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud put his youthful son on the path to the throne, and the problem appeared to have been solved.

But not for long.

In May 2018, dissident Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan called on his uncles to depose King Salman and take over the country. He called on Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, saying that the damage being done to the Saudi royal family and the kingdom by Salman’s “irrational, erratic and stupid” rule had gone beyond the point of no-return. In an interview with Middle East Eye, Prince Khaled, who was given political asylum in Germany in 2013, said that if Ahmed and Muqrin were to unite ranks then “99 percent of the members of the royal family, the security services and the army would stand behind them”.

"I seize this opportunity to appeal to my uncles Ahmed and Muqrin, who are the sons of Abdulaziz… to do something to change things for the better" Prince Khaled is a distant member of the Saudi royal family. But Riyadh is sensitive to any member breaking ranks, however distant he may be to the line of succession, and has tried to lure him back. The prince said that recent statements by Mamduh bin Abdulaziz, one of the eldest surviving brothers of King Salman, indicated wider resentment within the family as a whole.

“There is so much anger within the royal family,” Prince Khaled said, “I took this information and appeal to my uncles Ahmed and Muqrin, who are the sons of Abdulaziz and are highly educated, well versed and able to change things for the better. I can say that we are all behind them and support them.”

Prince Khaled belongs to the al Farhan branch of the Saudi royal family. It dates back to the 18th century, when Farhan was one of the three brothers of Muhammad bin Saud, from who Abdulaziz, the major branch of the family, descended. The rift began after Khaled’s father, who became known as the Red Prince, advocated a constitutional monarchy.

Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, returned to Saudi Arabia in late Octobe 2018 after a prolonged absence in London, to mount a challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or find someone who can. The septuagenarian prince, an open critic of bin Salman (MBS), travelled with security guarantees given by US and UK officials. “He and others in the family have realised that MBS has become toxic,” a Saudi source close to Prince Ahmad told Middle East Eye. “The prince wants to play a role to make these changes, which means either he himself will play a major role in any new arrangement or to help to choose an alternative to MBS.” The source said that the prince returned “after discussion with US and UK officials”, who assured him they would not let him be harmed and encouraged him to play the role of usurper.

Before the Khashoggi affair, Prince Ahmad’s opposition to his nephew was a matter of public record. In the summer of 2017, he was one of three members of the Allegiance Council, the body of senior royals tasked with choosing the succession, to oppose bin Salman’s appointment as crown prince. Prince Ahmed pointedly did not give an oath of allegiance to his nephew when he was made King Salman's heir. When Prince Ahmad and King Salman’s brother, Abdelrahman bin Abdulaziz, died last year. Only two pictures were hung at the reception given by Prince Ahmad, that of King Abdulaziz and the current monarch. The crown prince’s portrait was notably missing.

Senator Lindsey Graham on 16 October 2018 said “This guy has got to go. Saudi Arabia, if you’re listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself,” Graham said on “Fox and Friends”, referring to the crown prince’s moniker. “I can never do business with Saudi Arabia again until we get this behind us. That means I'm not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy is in charge... “I’ve been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States. This guy is a wrecking ball. He had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey and to expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused,” adding that the crown prince is “toxic.” Graham said “He can never be a leader on the world stage.”

Writing in the New York Times, former national security advisor to the Obama administration and US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said: “Looking ahead, Washington must act to mitigate the risks to our own interests. We should not rupture our important relationship with the kingdom, but we must make clear it cannot be business as usual so long as Prince Mohammed continues to wield unlimited power. It should be United States policy, in conjunction with our allies, to sideline the crown prince in order to increase pressure on the royal family to find a steadier replacement ...”

Mohammad bin Salman’s position as a crown prince is facing precariousness as his father King Salman is looking to replace him, according to a 10 September 2018 report by Spanish newspaper Publico. The conflict between the king and his son resulted from differences in their approach to various national and international issues. One of the biggest differences between them was their difference of opinion on the Israel-Palestine issue, the newspaper reported. The crown prince sided with Israel but in July 2018, the king had publicly defended Palestinians causing a rift between them.

In August 2018, the prince led the country to a diplomatic showdown with Canada for imprisoning feminist activists in Saudi Arabia. Canadian diplomat’s criticism led Mohammad to sever relations with Canada which witnessed withdrawals of thousands of Saudi students enrolled in Canadian universities.

In September 2018, the king canceled the sale of five percent of Aramco, the state-owned oil company that is crucial to Saudi Arabia’s economy. The sale of Aramco was the flagship ambition of the ‘Vision 2030’ plan pushed by Mohammad bin Salman. His project was to free economic dependency on oil and create a competitive economy to replace it, starting by selling a percentage of Aramco to private businesses. The cancellation of the sale by his father is a major setback for the project in a near future in which he is set to become king.

In 2015, Mohammed bin Salman became minster of defence. In mid-2017, he became the head of all the internal security forces because they got rid of the Mohammed bin Nayef, then crown prince. In November 2017 he took control of the National Guard - the third most important security apparatus within the country, so he had defense, interior and now he was in control of the guards. Removing the head of the National Guard and a one-time contender to the throne was an obvious play to consolidate power by Bin Salman.

On Ramadan 26, 1438, June 21, 2017, according to the Royal Order No. (A / 255) dated on 26/9/1438 AH including the selection of Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as Crown Prince, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud called for pledging allegiance to Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as the Crown Prince, at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah after Taraweeh prayers on 26/9/1438 AH.

On Ramadan 26, 1438, June 21, 2017, Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz pledged allegiance to Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz on the occasion of his selection as the Crown Prince at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah, praying to Allah Almighty for his all success.

The Saudi Press Agency confirmed that 31 out of 34 members of Saudi Arabia's Allegiance Council chose Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom's crown prince. King Salman alled for a public pledging of allegiance to the Crown Prince in Mecca. According to traditions, the King and his deputy receive princes, the kingdom’s general mufti, ministers, high-ranking military and civil officials and large crowds of citizens to pledge allegiance on the Quran to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Pledging allegiance to the king is according to Article 6 of Saudi Arabia’s basic law of governance. The Article stipulates: “Citizens are to pledge allegiance to the King in accordance with the book of Allah and the tradition of his prophet and are to obey in times of ease and difficulty, fortune and misfortune.” Article 7 of the law says: “Governance in the Saudi kingdom derives power from the book of Allah and the tradition of his prophet which govern this system and all of the state laws.”

The citizens’ pledge of allegiance to the king and to the crown prince is thus according to the political system of the kingdom which is based on sharia. Allegiance in Islam is a pact of loyalty to the Islamic political system, a commitment to Muslims and obedience to their imam.

The allegiance also represents a pact between two parties who are the candidate for rule and the people. The former vows to govern according to the Quran and Sunnah and to advise Muslims, while the latter must be obedient within the limits of obeying God and his prophet. Mohammed bin Salman was also named deputy prime minister, and maintained his post as minister of defense. Under the same royal decree, King Salman also appointed Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef as Saudi Arabia's interior minister while Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Salem was named deputy minister of interior. Dr. Nasser al-Daoud was relieved of his post and appointed as under-secretary of the interior ministry.

The royal order included the following, Chapter 2 of Article 5 of the Basic Law of Government shall be amended to read as follows: “Rule passes to the sons of the founding King, Abd al-Aziz Bin Abd al-Rahman al-Faysal Al Saud, and to their children's children. The most upright among them is to receive allegiance in accordance with the principles of the Holy Quran and the Tradition of the Venerable Prophet.”

A royal decree of 30 April 2015 said King Salman's son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was in his early 30s, will be deputy crown prince. He retained his position of defence minister. The new deputy crown prince has played a key role in the Saudi-led coalition's aerial campaign in Yemen to try and stop the advance of Houthi fighters, backed by Iran.

For several years, the 30-year-old Mohammad bin Salman had served as his ailing father’s gatekeeper – the king was believed by some to be suffering from dementia. Once the king ascended to the throne in January 2015, his son amassed vast new powers. In addition to his appointment as Defence Minister, he served as chief of the royal court, and chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.

Khalil Jahshan, the executive director for the Arab Centre of Washington from Fairfax, Virginia, said that the reshuffle constitutes a "political earthquake of the greatest magnitude". Jahshan told Al Jazeera, adding: "These are serious changes that will have repercussions not only domestically but also internationally.... This is a very decisive answer by King Salman to the doubts that many experts have expressed since he came into power with regards to his health, his decisiveness and his control over political matters in the kingdom. And this is his unequivocal answer."

Muhammad Bin Salman was appointed minister of defense on 23 January 2015 this year when his father, the previous defense minister, became King. He was also named as the Head of the Royal Court on the same date.

Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud was born on 31 August 1985, the eldest son of then-Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud's third wife, Fahdah bint Falah bin Sultan. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Law from King Saud University, where he graduated the 2nd in his batch. He received his education at Riyadh Schools where he ranked among the top ten students upon graduation. He received various training courses during his education.

Prince Mohammed held many positions during his professional career of 10 years. He was self-employed and had many philanthropic initiatives that earned his many awards. Before pursuing a career in public service for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed earned commercial experience founding several businesses and investments.

Prince Mohammed began his political career as a consultant to the Experts Commission under the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia. Prince Mohammed became special advisor to Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz on December 15, 2009 when the latter was Governor of the Riyadh province. During this time Prince Mohammad was Secretary General of the Riyadh Competitive Council. He was also a special advisor to the Chairman of the Board for the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives.

Prince Mohammed then became Supervisor of Prince Salman, the Crown Prince’s Office. In March 2013, by Royal decree, Prince Mohammed was appointed as head of the Crown Prince Court with the rank of minister and remains a special advisor to Prince Salman. On the 25th of April, 2014 he was appointed a state minister and member of the council of ministers. He is a member of the executive committee for the development of Dari’yya region.

He is said to be a serious, hard-working, private personality. He is said to an ambitious person, who learned a lot from working so closely with his father, and that he believes in youth empowerment. A colleague of Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in the Law Department of King Saud University, Riyadh, spoke of a serious student, who wouldn’t settle for less than an A. “If the grade was less for a project or a report, he would redo it again and again, until he received the top mark," he said. "It is hard for you to recognize he was a prince, if you weren’t told. His dedication to education, his humbleness set him apart from many who came from rich and big families."

Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman was the face of the Saudi offensive in Yemen. The young defense minister's appointment appeared to be a prize for his handling of the Yemen invasion, which was clear evidence of evolving Saudi foreign policy. The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was unthinkable up until it actually happened. No one truly believed that Saudi Arabia would lead a coalition to attack another country.

Mohammed bin Salman, was comparatively unknown until four months earlier. Dubbed "Saudi's Golden Boy", the young bin Salman, who had only served as head of his father's court, was virtually a stranger to the Saudi public and had relatively little experience with the kingdom's foreign partners. As one of the kingdom's youngest leaders, bin Salman was appointed defense minister by his reigning father and has steadily become the face of Saudi Arabia's military operations in Yemen.

"[He] may be young, but he is capturing the imagination of Saudis who seek strong leadership and a role in regional affairs. As defense minister, the deputy crown prince will be front and center in building his capacity as a defense leader. Syria and Libya will likely be under his portfolio in terms of future military missions and objectives," said Theodore Karasik, a Gulf-based analyst of regional geopolitical affairs.

Saudi Arabia approved on 01 May 2015 the restructuring of the kingdom’s oil giant Aramco, a move that will see it separated from the oil ministry. The country’s Supreme Economic Council approved the restructure plan that had been proposed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. The restructuring came soon after Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz announced a major government reshuffle.

Saudi Arabia created a new 10-member supreme council for state-run oil company Saudi Aramco, headed by the kingdom's deputy crown prince. "The council is chaired by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, who is also Deputy Crown Prince, Minister of Defense, Chairman of the Royal Court and Special Adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques," the 01 May 2015 statement said.

On 15 December 2015 Mohammed bin Salman, the country's defence minister and deputy crown prince, announced that Saudi Arabia has formed a coalition of 34 mainly Muslim countries - including powers such as Egypt and Turkey - to coordinate a fight against "terrorist organisations". Arab countries such as Qatar and the UAE will join the coalition, as well as Middle Eastern, Asian and African states including Pakistan, Malaysia, and Nigeria.

The extreme temperature variations of Saudi Arabia called for a layering of clothing to provide thermal insulation in conditions of extreme cold and heat. The Saudi men's national headdress is called Ghutrah. One important component of wearing the ghutra is securing it on the head. The igal, the black rope-like cord, holds the ghutra in place.

Shumagh is the same as Ghutra. It is folded into a triangular shape and placed on the top of the head. The difference between shumagh and ghutra is that shumagh is embroidered with white and red threads. The shemagh is typically only worn in Saudi Arabia, while the other Gulf countries wear a plain white scarf - ghutra.

Kufeya or Taqiyah is a white cotton hat which is worn directly over the hair. Wearing the taqiyah keeps the Ghutrah or Shumagh form slipping off the head. Many Saudi men, even children, wear a white ghutra with ‘Takeyah’ (also called ‘Kufyah’).

A majority of the Arab men wear keffiyeh, also called shemagh. Different tribes, countries and even neighborhoods have their own traditional colors for the keffiyeh, also spelled kaffiyah, keffiya, kaffiya, kufiya or some other variation.

By prescribing a dress standard for all individuals, traditional Arab culture worked to reduce classdistinctions and to provide a visible manifestation of the fundamental equality of all people that is described as a key element of Islam itself. The use of the Ghutra was therefore a means of eliminating class divisionsand affirming community.

There are many different ways to wear the ghotra. The headdress can be worn in various ways, ranging from the stiffly formal to the downright rakish, depending on the wearer’s mode and the social occasion. One style is usually sported by ministers and big officials, as well as in weddings and receptions. The wearer lets the ghotra down on soth choulders, probably with some little folds on both sides of the mirzam, which is the area of the ghotra in the middle of the forehead.

Karen Elliott House, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, wrote "Young Saudis like not only the deputy crown prince’s willingness to take risks but also his informality. Mohammad bin Salman meets visitors in a long thobe, the Saudi national dress that resembles a floor length longsleeved dress shirt. He often is bareheaded and also shuns the royal “bisht”, the gold-trimmed flowing floor length brown cape royals don around their shoulders for formal meetings. “He rolls up his sleeves and really works,” says one admiring young Saudi."

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Page last modified: 15-05-2022 15:25:21 ZULU