Saudi Arabia’s millennial Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, is plotting to try and take over as the country’s new king by the end of 2016, according to a report from news site Middle East Eye (MEE).
MEE says, citing two anonymous sources, that Bin Salman is collaborating with and taking advice from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
The advice Prince Mohammed is seeking is related to how he can become the next king of the country and take over from his father King Salman. However, Prince Mohammed is actually only second in line to the throne, behind Muhammad bin Nayef, the nephew of King Salman.
King Salman is technically the ruler, but Prince Mohammed is the favoured son, and he is increasingly calling the shots on some pretty important events.
Prince Mohammed is reportedly eager to gain the backing of the United States in his pursuit of the role, which he believes will give him a chance to “complete the mission of becoming king before the end of the year.”
Over the past year or so, Prince Mohammed has been by far the most prominent member of the Saudi royal family in the Western media, frequently appearing, and giving major interviews to both the Economist and Bloomberg as a part of a push to make Saudi Arabia more transparent to the Western world.
In his Bloomberg interview, which reportedly lasted five hours, Prince Mohammed outlined the beginnings of what became the country’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to curtail the kingdom’s “addiction” to oil, and fundamentally reform Saudi Arabia’s economy and the kingdom’s society in general.
In a later interview with Al Arabiya news, Prince Mohammed — who has become increasingly powerful in recent years — unveiled the Vision 2030 plan in full. During the interview, Prince Mohammed discussed expanding the country’s Public Investment Fund to $2 trillion up from $160 billion, adding that it would “become a hub for Saudi investment abroad, partly by raising money through selling shares in Aramco,”according to Reuters.
He also confirmed that the Aramco initial public offering would value the oil company at about $2 trillion, and he said the kingdom would sell up to 5% of shares.
Prince Mohammed’s media prominence has led some commentators to speculate previously that he has aspirations to become the next king of Saudi Arabia, and those predictions now appear to be coming true. This is despite Prince Mohammed’s father only coming to power in January 2015.
A key component of his run to become the next king, and take over from his octogenarian father, is thought to be bringing an end to the practice of so-called Wahhabism — the strict, ultra-conservative Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. That in turn, is likely to bring significant support from the US.
“He has started a plan to cancel religious police gradually and to arrest the most influential Islamists,” one of the two sources cited by MEE said.
“He will also cancel the Council of Senior Scholars [Saudi’s highest religious body] and stop all Islamic activities that serve Wahhabism.”
“The aim will be for him to be hailed as a hero by the press, Congress, and academia, so that the [US] administration is forced to follow.”