Why Muhammad Bin Salman?


A NUMBER of Arab viewers commented on a BBC Arabic talk show with a strong reaction to the appointment of Prince Muhammad Bin Salman as our new Crown Prince. The host conveyed their comments to me, adding his own.

I laughed as I said to brothers from Iraq, Egypt, Palestine and Yemen: What is happening here is exclusively and inclusively an internal affair. It concerns the government, the royal family and the Saudi people. No one else has the right to intervene.

To the Iraqi viewer, I said: Imagine if we, in Saudi Arabia, had a say on who should win or rule Iraq. You would have considered this a flagrant interference in Iraqi affairs. Your government was so angry with our ex-ambassador, Tamer Alsabhan, for commenting on Iranian influence and intervention and for protesting the massacres of Sunni Iraqis by Iranian militias. Our ambassador was publicly threatened with death and your foreign ministry demanded his replacement.

“Yes, observers and the international media have the right to learn more about the mechanism of the appointment and allegiance system. Those whose countries' interests are linked to Saudi positions are entitled to wonder about the impact of such changes on their national interests. It is the right of a brother and a friend to seek assurance about the smoothness of such appointment and its impact on our international relations and positions.

“We appreciate this kind of positive attention and legitimate questions. Our diplomats, political analysts, journalists and academics attempt to answer them in a way that illustrates the picture, explains the scene and reassures friendly nations of the strength of our home front, and the unity of the Saudi family. We would also assure them of the consistency and stability of our foreign policies, as well as, our leadership’s commitment to Arab and Islamic causes, global peace and prosperity.

Saudi Arabia is a country entrusted with heavy duties and responsibilities. It is the tax it gladly pays for its regional and global unique status. Therefore, what happens here is of intense interest to the world. Our oil policy, for example, concerns both producing and consuming countries. One short statement by the energy minister may raise or lower prices instantly. So are our strategies on a wide variety of issues — political, financial and security.

To everyone who asked why has Prince Muhammad Bin Salman been appointed crown prince, I explain that in recent years, Saudi Arabia has begun a consistent trend to empower its youth and women. The Saudi Kingdom, reestablished by King Abdulaziz in 1932, is now readying itself for the next 100 years with fresh blood in the arteries of the state. The new generation of young educated and enthusiastic leaders are open to creative ideas and change. They represent 70 percent of the population, with an average age of 35. Half the country’s population is under 25 years. They are mostly university graduates, in various scientific and administrative disciplines.

This trend, which began during the reign of the late King Abdullah, has accelerated with King Salman— supervised by the emir of youth, Muhammad Bin Salman. The prince and the elite of young men and women who have assumed ministerial, diplomatic and military positions have already proved their competence with solid achievements.

Hence, the appointment of Muhammad Bin Salman as Crown Prince is the culmination of this success, and a confirmation of the continuity of the new trend. This is particularly important since the Saudi Vision2030 and the National Transitional Plan 2020 require enormous efforts and youth’s energy to achieve ambitious goals and major changes in short span of time.

To those who still wonder why Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, I ask them back, why not? Canada, Ukraine and France have chosen, entrusted and celebrated young leaders, so why not Saudi Arabia? Just give them time, and time will prove them right!

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi