Opinion: The Saudi Big Bet

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2017.

By Fadila Al Jaffal

Mohammed bin Salman, who appeared on the stage two years ago with all the charisma of a Hollywood Arab prince, is also the decision-maker who drives difficult issues in his country, boldly breaking old taboos along his journey toward becoming an expert statesman and king.

The people revere him as a heroic figure against the backdrop of Saudi politics as the man who represents the aspirations of his generation to a country that is one of the youngest in the world. As he explained the new vision for his country on a televised interview, Saudi young people mouthed the words “he speaks our language, our hopes, and our ambitions.”

The Kingdom became more like a workshop, from the engineering of his vision and its implementation to the making and formulation of political and economic alliances. He has gained tremendous popularity among the Saudis, who seem to regard him as one that speaks with intelligence and engages his duties as one who knows what he is doing. He speaks the language of critical national issues such as politics, economics, youth, people, and women’s rights.

The prince formed a unique phenomenon at a unique time, an era where generous oil revenues no longer fill gaps and cover mistakes. Saudi Arabia sits at point in its history in which Arab states failed after bitter revolutions, a stage in which technology dominates life, plans Mars trips, and manufactures flying cars. Saudi officials and ministers are finding themselves accountable to the people with high expectations.

The young prince came with a unique combination of originality and openness, designed exactly as needed. He came from his father’s school with the features of his grandfather, presenting a new foundational mission.

The talk about the House of Saud no doubt has been a subject of the world’s conversation for years, especially to the extent that governance can smoothly transition to the new generation. Now, Saudi Arabia has a completely young administrative staff starting from the crown prince. Mohammed bin Salman, the new Crown Prince, is the symbol of a new vision and appears to be a phenomenon in political action.

The event has been expected; only, the date was unknown but to be settled by a royal decision. Everyone realized that the king’s choice was, like the steps taken through his career, based on wisdom that looks beyond the horizon. No one fully knew the abilities of King Salman, who for many years had been in charge of family affairs, alongside his major responsibilities in governance, administration, and planning.

But the difference here is that the prince grew up learning with the king himself. It is no longer a secret that he is a miniature picture of his father, an example of the mandate of his reign, with great energy and vitality to move the country and meet the challenges of the next stage and the burdens of the future. Many believe that King Salman would like to see, in his own lifetime, Mohammed bin Salman become king.

Citizens are crying out for a man who promotes confidence at home and abroad. The prince speaks to the average citizen as well as the decision makers in the big countries and visionaries in the giant companies. He has confidence in the ability of the young Saudi generation to bring about a renaissance, a release of hope that needs a man who knows the world and the potential of power in it, the engines of international relations, and the importance of economic weight.

The economic negotiations of the 2030 vision have become very serious between Saudi Arabia and other countries. The young man who filled the world in two years surprised Iran in Yemen, smashing the head of the Cobra, which was targeted by Iran and besieging the kingdom along its borders. Iran, which sought to swallow Iraq and Syria, also sought to bite Yemen and destabilize Bahrain and the east of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, it is certainly not the end of the policy of Qatar; rather it is a time to face it. Qatar, which entered deep jungles in attempts to destroy the stability of the Kingdom, the Gulf States, and Arab countries like Egypt, which today sits on a tree looking for someone to put it on the ground with as few losses as possible.

It is not an easy task to manage several thorny issues simultaneously, from politics to economics to defense to the coalition in the face of terrorism. While the King is making deals on his tour of the Far East, the young prince is flying from Moscow to Washington to Beijing to hold meetings with the leaders. These have been crowned with the last three summits attended by President Trump in Riyad.

In the reign of King Salman, the Kingdom sought to protect all forms of its security and the security of the Gulf and the region from any dangers and repercussions. In his capacity as defense minister, the prince also took major steps in Saudi Arabia’s defense strategy by adopting a stronger military and diplomatic policy. There is no doubt that the future security of the Arabian Gulf is now shaped by the need to find a sustainable balance between two visions: national security and regional security, which is part of global security.

The Kingdom is now fully aware of its weight. It is a series of challenges in the form of open battles that require precision and a long breath, not grey zones. Therefore, the young crown prince represents solid internal stability to establish the fourth Saudi state with its modern features for decades to come. The challenges are enormous, but some challenges come to correct the track and change history. It’s a big bet.

Fadila Al Jaffal is a Saudi writer, researcher, thinker and author of “Days with Marines”

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