Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman appointed Crown Prince: SPA

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman appointed Crown Prince: SPA

The United States is looking forward to cooperating with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on security and countering terrorism, US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Wednesday.

In Saudi game of thrones, change is coming either way.

"He could be there for 50 years", said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

"We won't wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia".

Mohammed has replaced his cousin Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince, "removing any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81", says Bloomberg.

Iran's state media on June 21 called the prince's designation as the next Saudi ruler a "soft coup".

Although Prince Mohammed bin Salman's promotion was expected among close circles, the timing was a surprise, with the kingdom facing heightened tensions with Qatar and Iran, and locked in a war in Yemen.

While working as defense minister, he oversaw the Saudi-led military coalition against the Houthi rebels from Yemen. For an older generation, Saudi television coverage was highly orchestrated, with repeated footage of Nayef, the deposed crown prince, pledging allegiance to his successor. "The interior ministry thus stays with the descendants of Prince Nayef, but with less experience at the helm", she wrote on Twitter.

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Both young princes hail from the powerful Sudairi branch of the royal family.

The decision was approved by 31 of the 34 members of the Allegiance Council, the group responsible for determining the future succession to the throne. In spite of this, six kings since the death of the first Saudi monarch in 1953 have been his sons, including the current King Salman.

While bin Nayef fell into a diminished role.

The power struggle inside the House of Saud came to light earlier this year when the Saudi king began to overhaul the government and offered positions of influence to a number of family members. Despite his longstanding Washington ties, it was Mohammed bin Salman, who embarked on major overseas visits, including a trip to the White House to meet Trump in March.

Tadawul and Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority, the regulator, have made a series of reforms as part of efforts by the kingdom to broaden its investment base and diversify the economy.

Even as deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman had been amassing powers ever since his father took the throne.

For many Saudis those changes have become inextricable from the person of Prince Mohammed, whose photographs adorns walls, auto windows and advertising hoardings across the country and who has assumed a startling array of powers.

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