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The Guardian view on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince: the age of ambition

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vgane

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The Gulf countries have to stop their dependence on oil....Global Oil prices are likely to stay longer with US flush with domestic crude oil /shale gas supplies...Read this transformation in Saudi led 31 year old new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
who is the man in a hurry spearheading a $ 2 Trillion project to get the country's economy off oil!!

The Guardian view on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince: the age of ambition

Editorial At 31, the country’s new heir could have a long reign ahead of him. The reverberations are likely to be felt far beyond its borders

Thursday 22 June 2017

Everyone knew Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman was a young man in a hurry. Every step necessary for his advancement had been made in the two years since his father assumed the kingdom’s throne. Some judged him to be already the country’s de facto ruler. But at 31 his public triumph has come perhaps a little more quickly than anticipated. This week King Salman made him crown prince, supplanting his vastly more experienced cousin Mohammed bin Nayef. The new heir’s elevation has erased the kingdom’s image as a cautious, rather dull gerontocracy (the horizontal system of succession has passed rule from brother to brother; even his former rival looked young at 57).

Change is long overdue, and some have applauded the new crown prince as an energetic reformer. But it is clear he has no plans to meddle with the country’s nature as an absolute monarchy intolerant of dissent, let alone challenge the foundational partnership between the House of Saud and conservative Wahhabi clerics. Saudi’s religious leadership – according to reports – has been vocal in recent days about protecting autocracy from democracy. And the dramatic economic and foreign initiatives he has spearheaded have had dismal results.
His “Vision 2030” plan to overhaul the Saudi economy, end its dangerous dependence on oil and embrace the potential of its youth was in large part a package of wishful thinking and hype underpinned by privatisation and above all austerity. The kingdom’s plan to slash public spending was an invitation for social unrest; subsidies have been plentiful and most working Saudis are employed by the government. It undermined the House of Saud’s deal with ordinary Saudis: rigid political control in exchange for a guaranteed living. He has offered circuses rather than bread; opening cinemas and allowing all-male concerts is unlikely to prove adequate compensation. Suggestions of a very modest increase in some personal freedoms, including for women, are more appealing but also unlikely to be sufficient. In April, the government suddenly reversed course by restoring bonuses and allowances it had slashed. This week, the news of his promotion was sweetened by backdating those restorations and extending the public holiday for Eid al-Fitr by a week.
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But there is a renewed decline in oil prices. Analysts have also pointed to the sharp drop in foreign reserves – $36bn in the first four months of this year. The conflict in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians, created a famine and is going nowhere, while reportedly draining Riyadh’s coffers of billions of dollars a month. The new crown prince (then defence minister) led that rush to war, baited by the country’s intense rivalry with Iran. His hawkishness has manifested itself again in his public remarks on Iran – suggesting further escalation is likely – and this month’s startling blockade of Qatar: the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the Gulf for years. Regional jockeying for power and his closeness to Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, are key. But so too, one suspects, are impatience and inexperience.
Now his father has proved impatient too. At 81, he could not wait long to engineer his son’s installation and needed to ensure his son’s succession was secured. The king also made sure younger sons were rewarded: another got the key post of Saudi ambassador in Washington. In the past the US might have encouraged the monarch to hold back. The ousted heir was considered a friend of America, and as an effective interior minister led anti-terror efforts for years. But the White House has embraced his younger replacement as it goes all-in on its backing for Riyadh – whether from its own imprudence or because it is accepting a fait accompli. The Saudi people, of course, get what they are given. Young men in a hurry are often regarded warily by those ahead of them. But plenty of other people, in the kingdom and beyond, have cause to worry too.


https://www.theguardian.com/comment...saudi-arabia-crown-prince-the-age-of-ambition
 
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