Saudi Foreign Policy vs. Economic Priorities

Members Only Subscribe to read the full article
Already a member? Log In

How steady are the hands on the steering wheel of Saudi Arabia?  That question prompts an immediate follow-on: Whose hands are we talking about?  There seem to be too many. Notionally, the kingdom is being directed by King Salman, but he is 80 years old and suffering from the physical and mental deficiencies typical of his age. There are also two other people in the front seat: the king’s nephew, Interior Minister and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef (aka MbN) and his younger cousin, Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (aka MbS). In driving terms, MbN prefers the slow lane, MbS is in a hurry to get to his destination.

In policy terms, this translates as MbN being, to put it generously, the voice of continuity – which for the Saudi usually means do nothing.  MbS is a man of action, with grand ideas for transforming the kingdom, though cynics would say this could be reduced to two words – power and riches.  An anecdote lingers about him once leaving a bullet on the desk of an official who had the temerity to challenge his business ambition.

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief‘s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+Member.

Continue Reading

Get access to all our briefs

Sign up Today

Already a member? Log In

Related Articles