Saudi king names son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince

Saudi king names son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince

The 31-year-old has been appointed deputy prime minister and will continue in his role as defense minister, according to a royal decree cited by state media.

As Defence Minister and deputy crown prince, Prince Salman led Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen and oversaw the kingdom's energy policy.

The official reason for this change in succession line was given via the royal decree, which stated that "a majority" of senior royal members from the so-called Allegiance Council supported the recasting of the line of succession.

King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has changed his pick for a successor, naming his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince and deposing Prince Mohammed bin Naif from the post.

Few people outside Saudi Arabia had heard of Prince Mohammed bin Salman before his father became king in 2015.

The influence of Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz has greatly increased in Saudi Arabia in recent years, and he has been able to strengthen his power.

"Finding alternative succession mechanisms was only a matter of time in Saudi Arabia", he told TIME in an email."The former system by which sons of the founder, King Abdulaziz, would pass the throne on horizontally had to shift down a generation at some point".

He had headed up the counter terrorism portfolio, and had good relations with Saudi Arabia's Western allies, including the USA and UK.

Bin Nayef was responsible for overseeing security and counterterrorism in Saudi Arabia, and AP reports that he has close ties to Washington.

Mohammed bin Salman has also represented King Salman overseas, travelling to Beijing, Moscow and Washington, where he met President Donald Trump in March. The visit also helped lay the foundation for Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia in May, which marked the president's first overseas visit. The new tasks won't be hard to be performed by him as he had major roles in the country as deputy crown prince.

However, the analyst says the speed at which the new crown prince has pushed his assertive policies, including the war in Yemen and an effort to privatize part of the kingdom's state-run oil company, has unnerved some within the royal family. It shifts the centre of gravity for power in the kingdom from the old to the young. The benchmark Tadawul stock index rose 4.1 percent today, headed for its biggest gain in nearly two years.

The move is likely to rattle Iran's leadership, which has been critical of comments by Mohammed bin Salman last month that the "battle" should be taken into Iran.

He was later appointed as the kingdom's defense minister, becoming the world's youngest defense minister.

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