Saudi King Salman on Wednesday named his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, completing a gradual removal of powers from the previous prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, who has been fired.
According to a royal decree issued by the official Saudi Press Agency, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was also named deputy prime minister, and maintains his post as minister of defence.
Mohammed bin Nayef, a veteran law enforcer well-regarded in the West for his efforts to combat Al-Qaeda, was also fired from his post as interior minister, the decree said.
The appointment of Mohammed bin Salman caps a tumultuous two years since Salman, 81, ascended the throne and named the thick-bearded Mohammed bin Salman deputy crown prince, or second in line to the throne.
In a conservative kingdom used to ageing leaders, the rise of the young prince symbolises the hopes of a youthful local population, more than half of which is under 25.
The hard-charging Mohammed bin Salman’s public profile rapidly eclipsed that of the crown prince.
Even as deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman has been responsible for running Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, dictating an energy policy with global implications and behind the plans for the kingdom to build a future after oil.
Al Arabiya television reported that the promotion of the prince was approved by the kingdom’s Allegiance Council, and that the king had called for a public pledging of loyalty to Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday evening in Mecca.
The surprise announcement follows two and a half years of already major changes in Saudi Arabia, which stunned allies in 2015 by launching a war in Yemen, cutting old energy subsidies and in 2016 proposing part-privatisation of state oil company Aramco.[Source: MIddle East Eye]