MOHAMMAD BIN SALMAN “SAUDI PRINCE” MBS

 

Mohammed bin Salman, full name Muhammad ibn Salmn ibn Abd al-Azz l Sad, better known as MBS, is a Saudi royal family member who serves as crown prince (2017-) and prime minister (2022-) of Saudi Arabia. He was also the Minister of Defense from 2015 to 22. He is the son of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Fahdah bint Fal ibn Suln, his third wife.

Early Life

Mohammed was interested in governance from an early age, observing his father and being aware of his image. Along the way, he learnt how to communicate with a wide range of dignitaries while avoiding gaffes. He earned a bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2007. He later established a variety of businesses as well as a non-profit organization to promote entrepreneurship in the kingdom. In 2009, he was appointed as an official adviser to his father, the governor of Riyadh at the time. Mohammed, Salman’s trusted son, climbed with him in status and prominence, eventually becoming Crown Prince in 2012.

 

Defense and economic policy are in charge:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died in January 2015, and Salman ascended to the throne. He selected Mohammed as his defense minister right away. Mohammed began an aggressive military intervention in Yemen’s civil conflict in a short of months. The battle, known as Operation Decisive Storm, aimed to provide Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi‘s administration a decisive advantage against the Shia Houthi movement in the country’s north. A Houthi triumph was anticipated to give Iran, Saudi Arabia’s primary regional competitor, a foothold along the country’s southern border. However, the campaign failed to alter the course of the conflict, resulting in a protracted stalemate and one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in modern history.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died in January 2015, and Salman ascended to the throne. He selected Mohammed as his defense minister right away. Mohammed began an aggressive military intervention in Yemen’s civil conflict in a short of months. The battle, known as Operation Decisive Storm, aimed to provide Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s administration a decisive advantage against the Shia Houthi movement in the country’s north. A Houthi triumph was anticipated to give Iran, Saudi Arabia’s primary regional competitor, a foothold along the country’s southern border. However, the campaign failed to alter the course of the conflict, resulting in a protracted stalemate and one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in modern history.

Crown prince:

Mohammed was named Crown Prince in June 2017 and has lost no time in pursuing his bold aspirations. Just days later, he led a multi-country boycott of Qatar, not only because of its friendly position toward Iran, but also because of its support for competing non-state players in the area, including as the Muslim Brotherhood. Though the three-year blockade caused a short-term catastrophe for Qatar, the country used its wealth to reposition its economy away from reliance on its Gulf neighbors.

At times, his assertiveness abroad backfired, resulting in international condemnation. While on a visit to Riyadh in November 2017, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri abruptly resigned under dubious circumstances. Only after intense international pressure was Hariri allowed to return to Lebanon, where he quickly resigned. The details surrounding the unusual occurrence remained unknown, but Mohammed echoed the world’s fears a year later when he cracked a joke about kidnapping Hariri at an investment conference.

Several Saudi princes, business elites, and senior officials were arrested at the same time as Hariri’s unusual resignation. The operation was characterized as an anti-corruption operation. Many observers felt the underlying objective of the sweep was to secure power in Mohammed’s hands because the jailed individuals included some of the country’s wealthiest and most prominent figures, including mega-billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal. Many were only released after giving the state partial control of their firms or paying billions of dollars. The Saudi government is thought to have made more than $100 billion from the move.

Despite the seeming repression, Mohammed was first lauded as a reformer at home. His policies began to soften many of the tight social restrictions for which Saudi Arabia was known, much to the displeasure of traditional Saudis and the Wahhb religious elite. In order to encourage tourism in the kingdom, a prohibition on cinemas was lifted, and women were permitted to attend sporting activities. In 2018, he partially relaxed the public clothing rule by declaring that women do not need to wear an abyah, a long black cloak, in public. Later same year, women were granted the right to obtain driver’s licenses, allowing them to drive themselves to work, school, or do errands.

Nonetheless, these measures toward liberalization looked to be motivated by economic gain rather than a yearning for liberty. While women were given new options that allowed them to earn and spend money without requiring their male guardians to provide constant consent and transportation, the government also cracked down on women activists who continued to advocate for greater liberties.

Mohammed oversaw the unlawful execution of Jamal Khashoggi, a famous writer and exiled government critic who had worked as an adviser and aide to a Saudi ambassador, in Turkey in October 2018. Saudi operatives lured Khashoggi into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he was tortured and mutilated on Mohammed’s orders.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoan led the worldwide condemnation of the death, which occurred on Turkish land against a dissident living in exile and sparked international concerns about both state sovereignty and human rights. The impact was limited, as the royal family repeatedly deflected blame for the affair, but Mohammed’s reputation abroad had been tainted.

As the world grappled with the COVID-19 epidemic in March 2020, Mohammed detained members of the Saudi royal family once more. Detainees said to be under investigation for treason included princes significantly closer to the throne, including Ahmad, King Salman’s brother, and Muhammad bin Nayef, the previous crown prince who had replaced Mohammed bin Salman.

Meanwhile, the economic ramifications of the epidemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boosted Mohammed’s status as a global economic player in 2022. In June, as high oil prices and inflation wracked the global economy, Erdoan joyfully welcomed Mohammed to Turkey. Moreover, despite US President Joe Biden‘s prior vow to keep Mohammed out of US-Saudi interactions, Biden met Mohammed face to face in July during a high-profile trip to Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed was appointed prime minister in September 2022, a position typically held by the king who controls the Council of Ministers. His younger brother Khalid took over as defense minister in his absence.

After cementing his de facto position as Saudi Arabia’s top policymaker, Mohammed sought to build more friendly and stable international relations. He reportedly hinted in October that he would normalize Saudi Arabia’s relations with Israel, as the UAE, Bahrain, and other Arab countries had done in recent years. However, the offer was contingent on the US restoring its promises to the country’s security and assisting it in developing a civilian nuclear program. However, the United States was unconvinced, so Mohammed looked elsewhere. After days of talks in which China served as a mediator, Saudi Arabia and Iran reached an agreement in March 2023 to repair ties after years of rivalry had destroyed the area.The agreement signaled that an end to the civil war in Yemen, which had become an expensive and destructive quagmire for Mohammed’s ambition as a proxy battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The diplomatic victory also bolstered Saudi connections with China, a formidable alternative and counterweight to the US that Mohammed might use in his interactions with the North American powerhouse. Indeed, just hours after the agreement was revealed, the US offered to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for security and nuclear technology pledges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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