“A less persuasive example of royal “meritocracy” is Mohammed bin Salman who, before his appointment as deputy crown prince, was already defence minister and chair of one of two decision-making bodies set up by the king on assuming the throne. Although Sawers’ article is only talking about “meritocracy” within the House of Saud, not Saudi Arabia as a whole, it does seem a remarkable coincidence that when there are hundreds of princes – and even princesses – to choose from, the one apparently best-qualified to supervise the defence ministry (and the bombing of Yemen) happens to be the king’s favourite son. But it’s not only the defence ministry. The multi-talented prince is also head of the newly-formed Supreme Economic Council, as well as chairman of the Prince Salman Foundation, head of the executive committee for the Prince Salman Charitable Housing Association, head of the financial committee for the Holy Quran Association in Riyadh, chairman of Riyadh’s non-profit schools, honorary chairman of the Saudi Management Association, honorary chairman of the Crafted Hands Association and is a board member of the Charitable Organisations in Riyadh……………..”
Saudi media and some others refer to him as MBS (Mohammed Bin Salman). Almost affectionately, so long as his father the king remains alive and in power. No doubt this new king has learned from his predecessor Abdullah, who was too timid and slow in promoting his son Prince Met’eb (Mut’eb) and thus caused him to lose out in the war of succession. Saudi opposition sources claim Meteb is about to “resign” (meaning booted out) from his powerful job as owner of the National Guard parallel army. The National Guard has always been the domain of Abdullah and his sons, until now. Just as the Interior Ministry has always been the domain of the late Prince Nayef and his sons, and still is. Just as the extremely lucrative Defense Ministry was always the domain of the late Prince Sultan, until Salman took over after his death and now his son owns it.
Back to MBS and his sudden manna fallen from his father’s palace. He is reported to be quickly amassing all the strings of power in his young hands:
- Crown Prince to the Crown Prince (for now). Soon to become full Crown Prince to the king, according to Saudi opposition speculation. But I am guessing Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef (not so affectionately known as MBN) is not as easy to depose and dispose of as some other princes.
- Minister of Defense: no job in Saudi Arabia is better for amassing new billions than control of the Ministry of Defense and its huge budget. The late Prince Sultan (who was Crown Prince briefly but mostly Defense Minister) was credibly reported by the opposition to have amassed a fortune of over $200 billion during his decades on the defense job. His sons Bandar Bin Sultan and Khaled Bin Sultan did quite well, tyvm. But those were the days, my friend…..
- Head of Supreme Economic Council, wtf that be, etc etc.
- Master of ARAMCO, the giant state oil company. The main source of state (and family) revenues.
- Bomber in chief (cluster bombs and conventional bombs) of Yemen, the poorest Arab country outside of Africa. He probably can be called chief Cluster Bomber.
He is not yet chairman, honorary or otherwise, of the Saudi branch of the Students for a Democratic Society- SDS- or the Saudi branch of the Hell’s Angels or the Black Panthers. If they existed he would be. But he is probably on track to get the John McCain-Lindsey Graham Medal of Cluster-Bombing Honor.
How about head of FIFA (World Soccer Federation)? Sepp Blatter is quitting.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum