The news from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is that the King replaced Muhammad bin Nayef as Crown prince (heir) with his son Mohammad bin Salman.

What are the main differences between the old and new heirs, in their views; or past approaches/actions?


Muhammad bin Nayef was a "technical candidate", so it's only relevant that he was loyal enough to play such role. Mohammad bin Salman de facto rules KSA for the last two years, so his views and actions are the same as the reforms the kingdom is going through.

Until now all the Saudi kings were the sons of Abdulaziz. But that couldn't last forever. For example, Muqrin bin Abdulaziz (the previous Crown Prince) in 2015 was already 70 years old. Salman bin Abdulaziz and his favourite son Mohammad bin Salman saw a chance to take power for their family (in a narrow sense). But Mohammad bin Salman was only 30 years old then, and it was seen as too big step to make him an heir just after crowning his father (given that there are a few thousand of other princes out there, and many of them are older than him). So after a few months Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was changed to Muhammad bin Nayef (56 years old), and only now to Mohammad bin Salman. But in fact bin Salman's claims to the throne became obvious when he was appointed the Minister of Defense and the President of the (newly-formed) Council of Economic and Development Affairs (so he immediately became No. 3 in the kingdom).

Mohammad bin Salman is usually positioned as "liberal", "westerner", "reformer" etc. But one should understand that the scale of political and public reforms will be mostly limited to the ones implemented already. And of course he's "a hawk" and the person most responsible for the Yemeni war and many other things.

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