Just over three months after starting his reign, King Salman of Saudi Arabia is consolidating the power around the Kingdom’s upcoming generation of leaders at a time that the top exporter of oil in the world takes a role of more prominence in the power struggles in the region.
The King moved Muhammad Bin Nayef up to position of crown prince following the king’s brother Prince Muqrin asking if he could step down, said officials on Wednesday. Salman’s son, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the current minister of defense was named the deputy crown prince. He is now second to the Saudi throne.
The changes have come as the new leadership in Saudi Arabia heads a campaign of bombing against the Houthi rebels throughout Yemen and it adopts tougher stances on confronting the extremist militant group Islamic State.
The new appointments have put power into the younger generation princes’ hands. These princes will need to stop any instability from crossing the borders of the country as they form new policies that manage conflicts in both Iraq and Syria.
The decision by King Salman to promote his son was a big surprise for some due to his youth. His exact age is not known, but most believe him to be thirty something, with little experience.
Few know anything about him as he is rarely seen speaking in public, but that is likely to change moving forward, said an analyst who works in Virginia but used to work in the embassy of Saudi Arabia located in Washington.
King Salman, since taking the reins, has made significant changes to his government. He has introduced new committees that oversee political affairs, economic development, security, as well as removing senior princes at some positions and changing certain governors in some provinces.
Diplomats throughout Riyadh have speculated as to how far the son of King Salman would rise following his appointment as defense minister, the council of economic affairs and the royal court head.