Trump, new Saudi crown prince vow to ease tension with Qatar

Henrietta Brewer
June 23, 2017

Described as a "surprise reshuffle" by CNN, the move is a sign Salman is "further empowering a young, activist leader at a time when the kingdom is struggling with low oil prices, a rivalry with Iran and conflicts across the Middle East", says the New York Times.

Little-known outside the palace until January 2015 when his father, Salman bin Abdulaziz, became the monarch, Prince Mohammed has since been the face of Saudi Arabia overseas and of reforms at home.

Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Scholars - the highest religious body in the ultraconservative Sunni kingdom - has endorsed Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ascension as crown prince. He had previously been in charge of his father's royal court when Salman was the crown prince.

Mohammed is also defence minister with overall responsibility for the kingdom's military intervention in Yemen. He has pledged allegiance to the new crown prince and his younger cousin, Salman. To have 31-year old Crown Prince is a deceive break with past practice", "To move aside Mohammad Nayef the counter-terrorism czar, the figure of the establishment, this is groundbreaking for Saudi Arabia.

He ordered the reinstatement of all civil service benefits cut as part of an austerity package earlier this year.He also extended the Eid Al-Fitr holidays until July 9 for all public sector employees.As deputy crown prince, the new heir to the throne already held multiple posts. The Saudi stock market surged, now that there is clarity on who will be the next king.

Most of the Saudi Royal Family, of course, officially supports the king's policies at any given time, so it's not always clear where the king's policies end and others in the family begin.

The crown prince said last month on Saudi TV that he was not open to trying to improve relations with Tehran, which he accused of trying "to control the Islamic world" to spread its Shi'ite doctrine. His biggest test will come as he tries to wean the kingdom off an oil economy.

Iran's state media has criticised changes to regional rival Saudi Arabia's royal line of succession announced on Wednesday calling them a "soft coup". The plans include ending popular subsidies for gasoline, electricity and water - which changes the contract between Saudi citizens and the government, and comes with some political peril.

Tillerson said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and its allies had prepared a list of demands to be presented to Qatar.

The White House said in a statement that the two leaders expressed their shared commitment to "cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists, as well as how to resolve the ongoing dispute with Qatar".

Other reports by iNewsToday