An Iranian expert on the Middle East affairs says the elevation of Mohammad bin Salman as the new crown prince of Saudi Arabia to replace his cousin Mohammad bin Nayef reveals an underlying competition among the Saudi princes to take control of levers of power in the kingdom.
In a Farsi interview with Khabar Online, Hassan Hanizadeh said the replacement was among the consequences of the latest visit of the US President, Donald Trump, to Saudi Arabia.
“Mohammad bin Salman played a key role in the signing of the $500b arms deal between the US and Saudi Arabia. Before Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, bin Salman had made a deal with him: Putting pressure on Saudi King to elevate bin Salman to crown prince in return for signing the multi-billion arms agreement,” he noted.
The analyst went on saying that the elevation, made after consultation with Trump, is the beginning of a process to turn bin Salman into the future king of Saudi Arabia.
“This is the goal which the US has always been seeking to achieve in Saudi Arabia. Bin Salman has played a key role in Saudi Arabia’s regional adventures in recent years. He has also established a close relationship with the US president, secretary of state and some other senior Republican figures. So, the US played a role in the replacement.”
“This means that we are going to witness some new developments in the region. Due to his adventurous characteristic, bin Salman can trigger new crises in the region,” he said.
Hanizadeh went on adding that bin Nayef and bin Salman have different views on regional issues including ties with Qatar, war on Yemen and even Iran.
“Bin Nayef is relatively moderate compared with other Saudi officials. He sought to keep a moderate stance towards the mentioned issues. So, the Saudi king decided to side-line him by promoting bin Salman. The US officials are of this opinion that the death of the Saudi King is imminent,” the expert said.
He blamed bin Salman for the diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and said the politics of Saudi Arabia has reached the point of no return in a sense that unlike the previous moderate officials who sought to lead the kingdom towards moderation and hold adventurous moves at bay, the new rulers are adventurous politicians.
“Now with his new decision, the Saudi king is pushing the country towards more adventures and crises. This will also raise tensions inside the Saudi family. Meanwhile, more tensions are predicted in relations between the Saudi Arabia and its neighbours.”
Touching on the thorny relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the analyst said the two sides are now at loggerheads with each other.
“Now that the Saudi king has appointed his adventurous son as crown prince, we cannot expect normalization in ties between the two sides. The appointment may even put the two countries on a collision course. Bin Salman is one of the Saudi princes who have an aggressive view towards the Axis of Resistance.”
Meanwhile, he added, bin Salman already established a good relationship with Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is interested to make his country a follower of the US and the Zionist regime.
“So, with the mentioned points in mind, the US has reached to this conclusion that only through the monarchy of bin Salman, it can achieve its goals in the region. So, it exerted a huge pressure on King Salman to make the replacement,” he concluded.