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New Saudi king focuses on stability as challenges loom

Friday, January 23, 2015

Significance

Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin becomes crown prince, while Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef has been appointed deputy crown prince, making him the first of the younger generation of princes to be designated as an heir to the throne. The swift announcement of both appointments indicates that the ruling family wanted the longer-term succession clarified as quickly as possible amid reports of growing tensions among Saudi princes over the issue. With his own health problems, 79-year-old King Salman's reign may be short, and his successors will have to take the critical decisions on the many strategic challenges facing the kingdom.

Impacts

  • Senior princes will resolve any differences over Prince Mohammed bin Nayef's designation as second-in-line in private.
  • Saudi-Iranian ties are unlikely to improve, but Riyadh could become more open to compromise on transitional government in Syria.
  • Salman is unlikely to lift subsidies and cut public expenditure while security threats persist.
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