Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is on a historic visit to the US which will be under watch from observers around the world. MBS, as he is popularly known, is seen as the de facto ruler of the kingdom. He has portrayed himself as the next heir and has already axed the line of succession by purging the senior heirs. MBS is hell-bent to revitalise the governance model of his nation which has been largely based on a highly vigilant and conservative approach. He has introduced some revolutionary reforms which were absolutely alien to the Saudi society like the right to drive for women, opening up of movie theatres for women in addition to limiting the powers of pervasive religious-police and has targeted the elites of the nation who are mired in corrupt practices. This has strengthened his hold on power.
MBS is come to be seen as the new face of reform who wants to disrupt the dependence on oil and push for the 21st century. There have been critical voices which want to highlight the innumerable human rights abuses which have been the hallmark of Saudi politics. Despite the latter and a laid-back leadership extending over decades, MBS has emerged as the new-age leader who is bold to challenge the ills and factors which have been ignored by all the previous rulers of the kingdom. Thus, it is his iron-will and determination which will herald the sunrise of the 21st century on the kingdom.
MBS has also become a favourite partner for Western investments in the region. Thus he has successfully painted his persona as someone who is completely against the dynastic politics mired in archaic principles of leadership even though he is very much part of the same dynasty and the next to take the throne. Based on this his new flair for youth empowerment has helped him win the hearts of people in West while giving him the popularity at home amongst the next generation.
The MBS-Trump meet will be an event to watch for as it can have far-reaching consequences on Iran and other regional conflicts. It is believed that Trump administration will pull out from the Iran nuclear deal if Western powers do not tighten the straps around it to address the sunset clauses. A collapse of the Iran Deal can spiral into a full war with the Iranian regime- a situation which will be hailed both in Arabia and Israel. This will not mark the end but the beginning of the talks as they will stretch from Saudi-led offensive in Yemen which has led to a terrible humanitarian crisis. The Kingdom is also a major player in the Gulf-Qatar conflict and the infamous blockade on latter. The issue of the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is also expected to be tabled and MBS has to back Trump’s stance.
MBS is close to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner who is now in the middle of many scandals. The latter connection is seemingly going down the drain as it may not bear any fruit. Mohammad Bin Salman has to develop an insightful knowledge about American politics and not knit his complete US strategy around family connections, a shared hostility towards Iran etc. MBS has to be prepared to deal with the growing chaos within West Wing and the unpredictable nature of Trump.