The most significant repositioning of power occurred Wednesday among Saudi Arabia’s royal family.
Saudi King Salman has appointed a new heir, making Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, crown prince. He made his son, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, 30, deputy crown prince. This effectively makes his son second in line to the throne. The new order has decided the line of succession for decades to come.
The newly appointed crown prince and deputy price are both from the generation of grandsons of the late King Abdul-Aziz al Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia.
Now, nearly all powers under the king are concentrated in the hands of the two men. Both are involved in chairing committees that determine security and developmental issues in their country. They have also been involved in leading Riyadh’s air-strike campaign in Yemen.
As interior minister, Mohammed bin Nayef will continue to oversee Saudi Arabia’s border guards and police force.
King Salman has also changed veteran Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who served that role since 1975. His role has been taken over by the kingdom’s Washington ambassador, Adel al-Juberi, the first on-royal to hold the post. Diplomats say that he has closer ties with US officials than any senior royal.
The moves come after King Salman assumed the throne in January after the death of his brother. Since then, the US-allied monarchy has continued to face numerous challenges including job creation for its mostly young population. Saudi Arabia is also dealing with low oil prices that have forced it to dig deep into its financial reserves, as well as deal with security threats from both internal and external terrorist groups along the Yemen and Iraq borders.
Since assuming the throne in January, King Salman has taken on a more proactive foreign policy.