Saudi Shakeup: No Surprise, but Vast Implications for U.S.

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The only surprising thing about the leadership shakeup ordered on Wednesday by King Salman of Saudi Arabia was the timing.

It has long been apparent that the king, 81, was grooming his favorite son, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, to succeed him. The young prince was already one of the most powerful men in the kingdom as deputy crown prince, or second in line to the throne, as defense minister, and as chairman of the interagency committee that directs economic policy. In multiple decrees announced without fanfare, the king now has made it official that the young prince known as MbS will succeed him and will be effectively running the country henceforth. Mohammed bin Salman is now crown prince, heir to the throne, and deputy prime minister, while retaining his economic portfolio. King Salman retains full legal authority and is nominally in charge of the government as prime minister, but he has essentially assumed figurehead status.

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