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Expert says new Saudi crown prince ready for compromise on Syria and Yemen

June 21, 20:12 UTC+3 BEIRUT

Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was considered to be pro-American, an expert points out

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© Nicolas Asfouri - Pool/Getty Images

BEIRUT, June 21. /TASS/. The appointment of Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince marks "the logical conclusion of the period of changes in the highest levels of the country’s government," Lebanese expert on inter-Arab relations Nidal Sabi told TASS on Wednesday.

"It is obvious that King Salman’s decision to appoint his son as a crown prince, which was approved by the majority of the Allegiance Council members, had been agreed on with Washington during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May," the expert explained. He did not rule out that "increasing the role of the king’s son may have been the precondition for making multi-billion dollar deals with the US."

According to Sabi, Washington earlier bet on Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, who used to be the Crown Prince before being replaced by the king’s son. "Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was considered to be pro-American, he enjoyed the absolute trust of the United States after al-Qaeda’s network had been suppressed in the kingdom," the expert pointed out.

"In fact, the king’s move has put an end to the diarchy which was the result of a rivalry between Prince Muhammad bin Nayef and Prince Moh ammed bin Salman, who is the Defense Minister," Sabi added. In his opinion, the sudden crisis in Saudi Arabia’s relations with Qatar was some kind of a distraction aimed at paving the way for the replacement of the crown prince.

Strengthening kingdom’s position on international stage as priority

"In any case, it is clear that Saudi Arabia has left behind the 80-year old succession system stipulating that power is handed over to the sons of the country’s founder King Abdulaziz," Sabi noted. "This is a natural move, as otherwise Prince Mohammed bin Salman would have been the 14th in line to the throne," he added.

According to the Lebanese expert, with the new crown prince’s appointment, Saudi Arabia "will further toughen its policy towards Qatar and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood." As for the international stage, Riyadh "will maintain its union with Cairo and Abu Dhabi." "Prince Mohammed bin Salman will implement the program for the liberalization of the country’s domestic life which he mentioned two months ago during his first meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington," Sabi said.

"Making the country stronger and strengthening its position on the international level will be a priority for the crown prince," he stressed. "It can well be said that in order to achieve this goal, he would be ready to reach compromises concerning complex regional issues - the crises in Syria and Yemen."

The expert also said that Prince Mohammed bin Salman "showed political farsightedness by building trust-based dialogue with the Russian authorities, particularly with President Vladimir Putin."

"Relations between the Saudi kingdom and Russia have reached an unprecedented high in the past years," Sabi noted.

"The partnership between Riyadh and Moscow opens the door to resolving conflicts in the Middle East," he added.

New crown prince

On June 21, Saudi King Salman named his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as the new crown prince. The prince, who will remain the defense minister, has also been appointed as deputy prime minister. The majority of the Allegiance Council members had approved the appointment.

According to the Saudi media, the former crown prince, the king’s nephew Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, pledged allegiance to the new crown prince.

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