19:42 GMT30 May 2020
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    The promotion of Prince Mohammed bin Salman to heir apparent of Saudi Arabia is the result of a power struggle in Riyadh involving the US, Saudi analyst Muhammed al Masari told Sputnik.

    On Wednesday, Saudi King Salman decreed a change to the line of succession in the Kingdom, naming his 31-year-old son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as his successor.

    Prince Mohammed bin Salman replaces Salman's nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who has also been fired from his job as Interior Minister.

    When King Salman, who is 81, took the throne in January 2015, he appointed his son Defense Minister. Bin Salman has been responsible for controversial military decisions such as the Saudi-led campaign of airstrikes in Yemen and support for the creation of the Islamist Army of Conquest in Syria, a rebel group mainly comprised of the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham.

    Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, has deep ties to Washington and is seen as the most pro-American of the Saudi leadership. He has years of experience in intelligence and has been dubbed "the prince of counter-terrorism" by US officials. 

    Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef welcomes British Prime Minister Theresa May in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 4, 2017.
    © REUTERS / Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court
    Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef welcomes British Prime Minister Theresa May in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 4, 2017.

    He led a crackdown against al-Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia between 2003 and 2007 and has been vocal about his country's fight against extremists. In February, he received a counter-terrorism award from the CIA.

    Despite bin Nayef's experience, the decision to demote him did not come as a surprise, expert in Saudi affairs Muhammed al Masari told Sputnik.

    "This decision was expected because of the difference between the King's political views and those of the former heir apparent. Mohammed bin Nayef has strong ties with American industrialists, military and intelligence, who call him 'a hero in the fight against terrorism.' The king leans more toward the American wing of globalists and financial corporations," al Masari said.

    "Now some in Saudi Arabia are betting on the support of Donald Trump in order to implement new domestic and foreign policy. However, this is fraught with dangers, because far from everyone in Washington supports the US President and an investigation has been launched against him."

    On June 5, the Saudis and their allies severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in protest at the Gulf state's alleged support for terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia also closed its land border with Qatar, across which around 1,000 trucks of food supplies and other goods had been transported every day.

    In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria
    © AP Photo / IRIB News Agency, Morteza Fakhrinejad
    While US President Donald Trump has labeled Doha as a "funder of terrorism at a very high level," the US State Department has said it is "mystified" about the justification for the embargo.

    In spite of the embargo, last week the Pentagon pushed on with plans for military cooperation with Doha and deployed two warships to the Persian Gulf for joint naval exercises with Qatar.

    "The military and industrialists were against Trump's decision to send a warship to participate in joint exercises with Qatar," al Masari said.

    "At the same time that Donald Trump gives Saudi Arabia a green light on leadership in the region, he is being attacked by political forces in the US."


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    international relations, politics, heir, Saudi monarchy, Mohammed bin Nayef, King Salman, Mohamed bin Salman, United States, Qatar, Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia
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