Mohammed Bin Salman named Saudi Arabia's crown prince
Saudi Arabia's King Salman has promoted his son Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, to crown prince. The sudden announcement paves way for Mohammed bin Salman to be the next-in-line to the throne. He replaces his cousin Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. The newly announced crown prince has also been named deputy prime minister and will retain his post of defense minister.
Prince Salman's promotion was expected, but timing is surprising
Mohammed bin Salman's promotion was expected by some royal observers. However, its timing is surprising as Saudi Arabia faces simmering tensions with Qatar and Iran even as it's involved in an air campaign in civil war-hit Yemen. The kingdom's Allegiance Council has approved the promotion and King Salman has called for a public pledging of loyalty to his son in Mecca on Wednesday evening.
Prince Salman controls powerful Saudi military, is spearheading wider reforms
Mohammed bin Salman has been spearheading the Saudi intervention in Yemen. As defense minister, Prince Salman has control over one of the world's largest military budgets. He also heads Council for Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) entrusted with evaluating policies on economic, education, health and housing-related issues. Last year, he announced sweeping reforms aimed at ending Saudi Arabia's "addiction" to oil.
Prince Salman chairs Saudi oil giant Aramco
Mohammed bin Salman chairs the supreme board of Aramco, Saudi Arabia's giant national oil company. He is the ruling family's first member to directly oversee Aramco's operations, a task previously conducted by technocrats. What makes Prince Salman particularly powerful, is that he has the all-important role as gatekeeper to his father King Salman, who is the final authority on all state decisions.
Prince Salman was an unknown personality before his father's ascension
Prince Salman's rise has been nothing short of meteoric. He was an unknown entity in Saudi Arabia's power hierarchy before his father Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became the state's king in January 2015. As a result, the royal succession is likely to be scrutinized more because of the astonishing speed in which he brushed aside his better known cousins.