Thanks to the actions of the impetuous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — from the brutal war in Yemen to picking a fight with Canada to, most recently, the apparent murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi — Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming a pariah state. The royal court in Riyadh — including King Salman bin Abdulaziz — surely realizes that this situation cannot continue.
If they are smart they will take decisive action. First, King Salman needs to remove Prince Mohammed from his post, admit responsibility for the assassination of Mr. Khashoggi, and face consequences. Later, if Saudi Arabia truly wants to become a respected member of the international community, the government should take steps toward becoming a constitutional monarchy.
The idea that King Salman would replace his son, also known as M.B.S., with a less boisterous and erratic crown prince might appear unrealistic — but it has precedents. If it is the will of the king, dismissing a crown prince is not very difficult or controversial. King Salman already sacked two crown princes when he became king in 2015: his half brother, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz and his nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. They were both sidelined by royal decree.
But there is a more useful historical example when we consider M.B.S.: In the 1960s, King Saud bin Abdulaziz became an embarrassment to the royal family as he plundered wealth, plotted to assassinate Arab leaders such as Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and later waved the flag of anti-imperialism and Arab nationalism. [Continue reading…]