- Ever since he was named the defence minister of Saudi Arabia in 2015, Mohammed bin Salman has had little patience for the way the kingdom is being ruled. In June, two and a half years into the reign of his father King Salman, he replaced Mohammed bin Nayef as Crown Prince. In recent weeks, he had taken on the Salafi religious establishment.-
- On Sunday, he sprang another surprise by ordering the arrest of senior government ministers, officials and 11 Princes, including the billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal, and the powerful chief of the National Guard, Mutaib bin Abdullah. The immediate reason for the arrests is not known. The palace version is that they were carried out as part of a new campaign against corruption that is spearheaded by Prince Mohammed. But the recent crackdowns suggest that Prince Mohammed is consolidating his power. He first had Prince Nayef removed from his path to the throne as Crown Prince. As one of the richest among Saudi royals, Prince Alwaleed is known for his cosy ties with Western governments and less conservative views. Prince Mutaib, a favourite son of the late King Abdullah, is an influential figure within the palace. By arresting both, Prince Mohammed has potentially neutralised the money and power centres that could pose challenges to him in the future.-
- With the latest arrests, at just 32 years of age Prince Mohammed appears to have established himself as the most powerful Saudi Crown Prince in decades. He is practically in charge of key policy decisions and has taken control of all branches of the Saudi security services — the military, internal security and the National Guard. He clearly has the King’s ear. Still, Prince Mohammed is playing a risky game. In a short span of time, he has opened multiple fronts in the still-unfolding internal power struggle. In Saudi Arabia, where the rulers traditionally distribute power among the different branches of the royal family as a balancing tactic and get their decisions approved by the ulema for legitimacy, Prince Mohammed’s moves are upending tradition. By concentrating power in his own hands and turning against other Princes as well as some clerics, he has upset the balance in the system. Quick consolidation of power could perhaps allow him to reshape the governance model. The anti-corruption campaign, which sounds much like that led by Chinese President Xi Jinping, will have popular support, which he could use to continue to target his rivals. But Prince Mohammed’s track record so far is devoid of any major achievement. His ambitious plan to reform the economy has been a non-starter. His foreign policy moves also backfired with the Yemen war spinning further out of control and the Syrian civil war turning in favour of President Bashar al-Assad, who is seen as an adversary by Riyadh. If he continues to make mistakes the game could go awry, triggering an open power struggle within the House of Saud. With the Riyadh-Tehran rivalry in West Asia hotting up again, these developments are also bound to have repercussions beyond Saudi Arabia.
Reign: hold royal office; rule as king or queen.
Example: Queen Elizabeth reigns over the UK
Synonyms: be king/queen, be monarch, be sovereign, sit on the throne
Sprang: Move or jump suddenly or rapidly upward or forward.
Example: I sprang out of bed
Synonyms: leap, jump, bound, vault, appear suddenly, appear unexpectedly
Spearhead: lead an attack or movement.
Example: He’s spearheading a campaign to reduce the number of accidents at work
Synonyms: lead, head, front, lead the way, be in the van, be in the vanguard
Crackdown: severe measures to restrict or discourage undesirable or illegal people or behavior.
Example: A crackdown on crime and corruption
Throne: a ceremonial chair for a sovereign, bishop, or similar figure.
Example: He was seated on his throne in a ceremonial Osiris-like pose, but his eyes betrayed his curiosity.
Synonyms: sovereign power, sovereignty, rule, dominion
Cozy: giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.
Example: A cozy cabin tucked away in the trees
Synonyms: snug, comfortable, warm, homelike, homey, homely
Ulema: a body of Muslim scholars recognized as having specialist knowledge of Islamic sacred law and theology.
Example: He was the most tolerant of all the potential candidates and because of this he also went afoul with the ulema
Legitimacy: conformity to the law or to rules.
Example: Refusal to recognize the legitimacy of both governments
Upend: set or turn something on its end or upside down.
Example: Kitty upended her purse, dumping out all her money
Synonyms: overturn, invert, turn over, turn upside down, capsize
Devoid: entirely lacking or free from.
Example: Lisa kept her voice devoid of emotion
Synonyms: free of, empty of, vacant of, bereft of, deprived of
Ambitious: having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed.
Example: His mother was hard-working and ambitious for her four children
Synonyms: aspiring, determined, forceful, pushy, enterprising, motivated
Backfired: Rebound adversely on the originator; have the opposite effect to what was intended.
Example: Overzealous publicity backfired on her
Synonyms: rebound, boomerang, come back, fail, miscarry, go wrong
Repercussions: an unintended consequence occurring some time after an event or action, especially an unwelcome one.
Example: The move would have grave repercussions for the entire region
Synonyms: consequence(s), result(s), effect(s), outcome, reverberation