(Photo credit: TRT World)
On 27 September, King Salman of Saudi Arabia ordered a reshuffle of the country’s cabinet by royal decree, appointing his son and Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), as Prime Minister, and Khalid bin Salman, the former deputy defense minister, as the country’s new defense minister
According to the report published by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the appointment makes MbS the first prince to become prime minister, a role historically reserved for the king himself.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has been kept in his position as minister of energy, according to SPA, while Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, and Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih remained unchanged.
The 86-year-old King Salman has been ruling Saudi Arabia since 2015 and has been gradually transferring power to MbS, following several hospitalizations.
MbS is known as an aggressive reformer, who is trying to steer the country away from its oil-dependent economy, curbing the power of influential Islamic clerics.
However, he has also cracked down on dissent; according to the Washington Post the country has executed 120 people in the first six months of 2022.
Under the crown prince, the relationship between Saudi Arabia, the US, and other western countries has soured tremendously.
US intelligence published a report last year that determined the crown prince’s direct involvement in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, leading to a partial breakdown in diplomatic ties.
Nevertheless, the recent war in Ukraine and the severe energy crisis in the west — which unfolded due to aggressive economic sanctions against Russia — have seen efforts by the United States and its partners to rekindle a once-strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.
The recent visit of US President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia has been considered to be a failure, resulting in no relief for skyrocket high oil prices.