Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
Focus: Saudi Arabia
What has happened in Saudi Arabia with the passing of King Abdullah should be viewed as no less than a coup that was waiting for this death to make its final move. One way or another, the change of regime will herald significant change for Saudi Arabia—and more importantly, on a wider geopolitical level. Saudi Arabia is in trouble and surrounded by enemies on all sides—mostly of its own creation. At the helm now is King Salman of the powerful Sudairi clan, while King Abdullah’s Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, King Abdullah’s choice, is Crown Prince (for now), but his power will be significantly reduced and he will be shadowed by King Salman’s choice of deputy crown prince, Interior Minister Mohammed Bin Nayef. Perhaps more significantly, King Salman’s 35-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, is now defense minister and chief of the royal court (i.e. the royal gatekeeper), replacing a figure we are all happy to see go: Khalid al-Tuwaijri, the undeniable leader of Saudi Arabia’s murky foreign intrigues.
What we are primarily interested in here is what this will mean for Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy—which has, of late, been defined less by any coherent policy and more by dangerous foreign intrigue that has led enemies dangerously close to and even stepping their toes across its borders. It has also helped create major conflicts in Yemen and Syria.