Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has curiously taken the father’s seat with all its power and political authority. This is while there has been no report about King Salman’s inability to fulfil his job.
Saudi Crown Prince has been actually taking up the reigns from the aging father. This turns Mohammed bin Salman to the country’s king while the king is still alive. With growing worries about the condition of the King, who is approaching eighty-six years old, the 36-year-old son is has taken full authority over of official high-rank discussions and dignitary receptions. King Salman has been rarely in public in recent years.
The young Prince is titled the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia since his inauguration as rightful heir to the throne four years ago. Mohammad’s rise to notoriety, nevertheless, took more serious dimension with the recent visit by French President earlier this month. Besides, Bin Salman attempted for more credit by heading the GCC summit this week.
The absence of King Salman at GCC summit was outstanding. It raised disputed about the security or health condition of the namely king of Saudi Arabia. As an analyst observed, “The idea that a crown prince is the de facto ruler of the country, meeting with foreign presidents and presiding over summits, only happened before when Saudi kings were not in good health.”
Saudi King has been dwelling at Neom, a utopian metropolis on the Red Sea, since two years ago after the pandemic took force. His final conversation with a foreign authority in the capital was with Dominic Raab, then the foreign minister of Britain 21 months ago.
Two months earlier, he had made another public show with participating in Sultan Qaboos death ceremony in Oman. As such, there seems to be a contradiction in Saudi Governance.
Mohammad Bin Salman; De-Facto Ruler or Power Usurper
It seems that the governing apparatus of Saudi Arabia has accepted an heir role with more power than the king. This is while the king has the potential to fulfil his personal and, in part, administrative duties.
Bin Salman’s path to power has been paved with a series of action both inside and outside the monarchy. He took many other brothers under custody to secure his seat following the takeover of the role as prince. He also silenced aby opposition voice regarding his grab on power since 2017.
But more than that, Bin Salman has attempted to secure an international credit through various apparent administrative reforms. The prince has presided over significant societal reforms, such as permitting females to get drivers’ license and work in government. This facilitated people to benefit from the more revenue and leisure opportunities that have sprung up around the kingdom.
The new de-facto ruler paved the way for normalization of ties with Israel, while not announced officially yet. Apart from confidential ties that sometimes leaked, Riyadh allowed Israeli commercial flights to use its airspace for the first time.
While his worldwide image was tarnished by the assassination and dismemberment of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Bin Salman has attempted to portray himself as a modest Islamist through other ways. In economic front, the crown prince has introduced Saudi Arabia to visitors and investment flows.
In a larger scale, Bin Salman has attempted to attain credit for his semi-reformist policies. This is while the humanitarian condition and press freedom are major field of international concerns.
Bin Salman has proved the practical king of Saudi Arabia while the main king is sound and safe. His policies have aided him en route and released some of the pressure for usurping power.