In elevating his son Prince Mohammed to next in line to the throne, Saudi King Salman approved a strategic realignment with the USA under Donald Trump and handed sweeping new powers to the 31-year-old who has been highly critical of regional rival Iran.
"We are a primary target for the Iranian regime", he told the New York Times, accusing Tehran of seeking to take over Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia, which is home to Mecca and Medina. Many Saudis opined that the new changes would help in achieving the objectives of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 more effectively.
"I look forward to working with Prince Mohammed bin Salman to deepen our close bilateral ties in the years ahead, building on the constructive meetings we had in Saudi Arabia earlier this year".
Throughout the early morning, it aired footage of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef pledging allegiance to the younger Mohammed bin Salman, who knelt and kissed his cousin's hand.
The Saudi monarch quickly named him second in line to the throne two years ago to the surprise of many within the royal family who were older and more experienced.
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"The two leaders discussed the priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists, as well as how to resolve the ongoing dispute with Qatar", the statement added.
Malley, who has met MbS, said his attitude toward Iran "stems from his strongly felt conviction that for too long the kingdom has been a punching bag, a passive witness to Iranian action, true or assumed, in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia's own eastern province".
The Vision 2030 plan launched by the Prince a year ago seeks to end the country's dependence on oil, reform its finances and encourage private enterprise.
He is responsible for running Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, dictating energy policy and spearheading plans for the kingdom to build an economic future after oil.
The newly minted crown prince built his reputation as a bold reformer.
Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, said the king's decision was aimed at avoiding a power struggle between his son and Mohammed bin Nayef by setting the line of succession out clearly.
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