Saudi Arabia Taps Anti-Iran Hardliner To Be King In Waiting

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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King Salman of Saudi Arabia elevated his son Mohammed Bin Salman to be his heir apparent Wednesday in a major palace shakeup with far-reaching consequences for Middle Eastern relations.

The younger Salman is a leading anti-Iranian figure within the Saudi royal family and spearheaded the Kingdom’s 2015 intervention in Yemen against the Iranian backed Houthi rebels. Salman also serves as the country’s defense minister, oversees its vast oil reserves, is famous for spearheading an effort to move the country beyond petroleum.

“We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for them in Iran,” Salman declared in a recent interview. Salman is also seen as a leading figure behind recent efforts to isolate the Gulf nation of Qatar for alleged terror sponsorship and maintaining relations with Iran.

Salman is only 31-years old and could potentially serve for decades as King of Saudi Arabia. His expected long tenure aligns with Salman’s stated goal of weaning Saudi Arabia off its “addiction” to oil in his stated 2030 plan to diversify the economy and loosen some of the countries strict religious practices.

Salman is also seen as a close ally of the Trump administration and is credited for arranging President Donald Trump’s first foreign visit to the Kingdom. Trump repeatedly praised Saudi Arabia for its assistance in fighting terrorism throughout the visit and reaffirmed the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

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