New Saudi power structure to boost fight against al Qaeda and Iran
King Salman shuffles the kingdom’s top positions. Leading terror fighter Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef becomes crown prince. The king’s powerful son, in his 30s, becomes deputy crown prince. As a supporter of a hardline against Iran, he is the kingdom’s real strongman.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Saudi Arabia's King Salman has named new players at the top of the kingdom, to boost the fight against al Qaeda and reiterate his hardline stance against Iran in the struggle for hegemony in the Middle East.

With the dismissal of Crown Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz bin Saud, King Salman, 79, removed the last remaining high-level official from the era of King Abdullah, who died on 23 January.

For local and other experts of Saudi politics, the new appointments mark the start of a new cycle in the country’s history.

On Wednesday, King Salman named Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, his powerful Interior Minister, as heir to the throne. About ten years ago, the latter led the way in the crackdown on al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates in the kingdom.

Prince Moqren was also relieved of his position as deputy prime minister.

The decree that named Prince Nayef as crown prince also named him as deputy prime minister and said he would continue to hold the position of interior minister and head of the Political and Security Council.

In a separate decree, King Salman named his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is in his early 30s, as "deputy crown prince".

For many, Prince Salman is the kingdom’s real strongman since he is minister of Defence and head of the country’s Economic and Development Council.

By taking the lead of an Arab coalition in Yemen, Saudi Arabia under King Salman has become more activist in foreign policy.

For several observers, the Yemen conflict is rooted in an open clash between predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia and mostly Shia Iran for leadership of the Muslim world.