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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince seeks more secular course, analyst says

November 15, 18:56 UTC+3 CAIRO

The Crown Prince strives for creating a new state

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© REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

CAIRO, November 15. /TASS/. The latest events in Saudi Arabia indicate that the younger generation of politicians, as represented by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is trying to steer the country away from radical trends to put it on a more secular development path, Egypt’s political scientist and expert on international relations, Amr Ammar, told TASS in an interview.

Shrugging off dependence on legacy of radicalism

"The current events are evidence of strategy changes in Saudi Arabia’s policies. In the most general terms they can be described as the laying of basics of a fourth Saudi state," he said. "The Crown Prince wishes to correct the strategic mistakes made by the country’s rulers since 1979, when the royal family after the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by fanatics concluded a deal with Islamic conservatives."

In those days, Ammar says, "it was most important to guarantee the integrity of the family’s power, even at the cost of soaring influence of radical theologians and the domination of Wahhabism in the moral, social and political behavior for many years."

"In exchange, the family farmed out to them all aspects of public life, including education, which triggered the emergence of a radical movement inside the country and its proliferation to the whole region," Ammar said.

"In one of his latest statements the Crown Prince recalled those mistakes. This shows that he strives for creating a new state, which will probably embark on a more secular path leading away from radicalism."

"He has taken the first steps already by arresting the leaders of that movement beginning a crackdown on radicals," Ammar said. "He wishes to get rid of some businessmen and persons of influence possessing huge capital and resources, who have been covertly financing jihadist groups in other countries, including Syria. His main task is to put these financial resources and mass media under control. This will enable the Crown Prince to tighten his grip on power and spread his influence."

"At this point it is hard to tell if he will succeed," Ammar points out.

"It should be remembered that Mohammad bin Salman has put his hand into a snakes’ den, thus angering a number of family members and money-bags. He is to walk a no easy and risky path."

Washington’s hand

Ammar believes that the further march of events will depend on the outcome of political clashes in the United States.

"The ongoing standoff between the ‘Trump state’ and the so-called ‘deep state’ (opposition causing considerable influences on government policies - TASS)," he believes.

"The latter wishes to split the region. It benefits from internal strife in the royal family, the ultimate aim being splitting the Saudi Kingdom in accordance with the Greater Middle East plan. In the meantime, the Trump team, which gets considerable funds from Saudi Arabia helping it bring about an upturn in the US economy, supports King Salman and his son in their reforms. A great deal will depend on who gains an upper hand in the United States.".

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