The Saudi king nominates 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman hereditary prince

The decision approved by 31 (out of 34) members of the Alliance Council marks a turning point in succession. The current number two Mohammed bin Nayef was dethroned, payment for a weak policy in the context of the crisis with Qatar. The young heir mastermind behind war in Yemen and a supporter of the frontal confrontation with Iran.


Riyadh (AsiaNews) - Saudi king Salman this morning appointed (by decree) his son, 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, hereditary prince, replacing the current number two (and nephew of the king) Mohammed bin Nayef, who has been dethroned . According to the royal house report, bin Salman is also named vice-prime minister and maintains his current role of Defense Minister.

At the same time, the 57-year-old prince Mohammed bin Nayef will no longer serve as deputy head of government and interior minister. He also pays for not having played a "foreground" role in the context of the diplomatic (and commercial) crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A strong man of Saudi monarchy, young Mohammed bin Salman confirms his blazing career in the country's leadership. Following the rise of Salman senior to the throne in January 2015, now 81, he has become the chief of Defense and hereditary vice-prince.

Touted as a reformer, over time Mohammed bin Salman has accumulated many positions: Defense Secretary, Vice-Premier, Special Advisor to the King and, above all, Head of the Council for Economic Affairs and Development. The latter oversees the activities of Aramco, the Saudi oil giant, and determines much of the economic policy in the kingdom.

The appointment by hereditary law was approved by 31 (of 34) members of the Alliance Council and marks a real turning point in succession. Until now the monarch's charge was transmitted laterally, before going to the next generation. Salman's choice also marks the end of power for the al-Sudairi clan, named after one of King Abdelaziz's brides, for a long time at the top of the country.

Due to his young age, from the moment he ascends to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman will count on decades of power - excluding outbursts or changes that are unlikely to date - and this element is also a sign of breaks with the past. He started in the public life of the nation as governor of Riyadh, and in 2009 he was one of the advisers most listened to by his father, when he was still Minister of Defense.

Analysts and experts point out the "aggressive" choices in the neo-successor to the throne's foreign policy, among the great Saudi interventionists in Yemen in March 2015. And there seems to be the figure of Mohammed bin Salman behind Riyadh's interventionist decisions in the Middle East region and the confrontation - now head on - with Iran for leadership within the Muslim world. He is also the mastermind of the nation's modernization program [Vision 2030, presented in recent months], which aims to make Saudi Arabia independent of oil, which to date is the only source of wealth for the country.

In a recent interview, the new heir to the throne made no attempts to hide his aggression towards Iran, lifting his eyebrows in contempt, he accused Tehran of wanting to "control the Islamic world" and promised to bring "war" to Iranian territory. A few days later, there was a double attack on Parliament and the mausoleum of the Ayatollah Khomeini in the capital.