Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman has Western leaders very worried
JANUARY 13, 201610:05AM
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of Saudi Arabia newly appointed King Salman, has many people worried.
HE’S just 30 years old and could soon be one of the most powerful people in the Arab world — and that’s probably not a good thing.
The new, 80-year-old king of Saudi Arabia, who suffers from dementia, has been criticised since taking the throne
last January for his bloodthirsty style as ruler. But it’s his favourite son who has the Western world really worried.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is considered the likely successor of his ageing father.
He is currently the gulf kingdom’s defence minister and has been privately criticised for his dangerous geopolitical gambles in the region as Saudi Arabia plays out proxy wars in both Syria and Yemen.
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At the end of 2015, Germany’s intelligence agency BND took the unusual step of publishing a one-and-a-half page memo that expressed concerns over an increasingly “impulsive policy of intervention”.
Prince bin Salman, they said, was destabilising the Middle East with his dangerous and inexperienced politics.
Such is the worry over his brash character that some have wondered if the prince represents “the most dangerous man in the world”.
Among confidants and advisers, he has earned a reputation for his volatile behaviour, reported
the UK’s Telegraph in November.
“He’s a young man proceeding at 250 kilometres an hour,” one of the prince’s advisers told the paper.
“There are bound to be people who are upset,” they said of the growing rumblings of concern around the young leader.
After becoming the country’s Defence Minister, it didn’t take long for him to show his true colours.
Just weeks after his father gave him the crucial role, Saudi Arabia fighter jets led a coalition into action against the Houthi militias in the region’s poorest country, Yemen.
A more recent test of his diplomatic style came after the Saudi’s execution of a popular Shia cleric earlier this month which inflamed tensions in the region.
Iran’s Shia population retaliated by setting fire to the Saudi Arabia embassy in Tehran. In response, the Saudi ruling family cut off diplomatic ties with the country as relations between the two Middle Eastern powers hit a fresh low.
Saudi Arabia has long been a crucial ally to the West, but its intensions are still viewed with suspicion.
At least publicly, Prince Mohammed bin Salman says the right thing. But world leaders are unsure if his behaviour will follow suit.
“A war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is the beginning of a major catastrophe in the region, and it will reflect very strongly on the rest of the world. For sure we will not allow any such thing,” he told
The Economist this month.
“Iranian escalation has already reached very high levels and we try as hard as we can to not escalate anything further, we only deal with the procedures and steps taken against us,” he said.
There could likely be challenges to any future succession to King Salman’s throne but the favourite son already talks of his vision for Saudi Arabia decades ahead, as if he already knows he’ll be the next king, the Telegraph reported.
Until that comes to pass, both regional and world leaders will be paying very close attention to the man waiting in the wings.
Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif meets with Prince Mohammed bin Salman.Source:AFP
Lionel Mill's film about Saudi Arabia, with unique access to Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen.
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