Mohammed bin Salman
|“||My dream as a young man in Saudi Arabia, and the dreams of men in Saudi Arabia are so many, and I try to compete with them and their dreams, and they compete with mine, to create a better Saudi Arabia.||„|
|~ Interview with Mohammad bin Salman in The Economist, 2016|
Mohammed bin Salman (full name Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and the heir apparent to his father, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, though many consider him to be the true de facto leader of Saudi Arabia; pulling the strings behind his father's actions due to Salman's advanced age and allegedly failing health. His grandfather is Ibn Saud, founder and first Monarch of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (also known as the "third Saudi state"), and four of his uncles (including Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud) have also reigned as King of Saudi Arabia.
Though he is responsible for a number of political reforms in Saudi Arabia - including increasing rights for women in the country and a reorganization of the Saudi economy - he is also responsible for torture of political opponents and is also accused of warmongering as part of Saudi Arabia's ongoing conflict in Yemen.
He is responsible for the brutal killing of Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly to silence him because of his extremely vocal criticism of his government.
From a young age Mohammed was interested in government, shadowing his father and remaining conscious about his image. Along the way he learned how to communicate with a wide variety of dignitaries and to avoid indiscretions. He attended King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law in 2007. He afterward founded a number of firms and a nonprofit organization intended to promote entrepreneurship in the kingdom. In 2009 he became a formal adviser to his father, who was then governor of Riyadh. As Salman rose in rank and influence, eventually becoming crown prince in 2012, his trusted son Mohammed rose with him.
Controversies and villainy
He was appointed Minister of Defense in 2015, and subsequently launched the invasion of Yemen which lead to the disarray and humanitarian disaster in the country. He is also considered as among the culprits of Saudi involvement on proxy wars against Iran across the Middle East including Syria where they support jihadist rebels. This was followed by failed attempt to restore Saudi and OPEC monopoly in global oil markets, bloating the national spending to $100 billion a year to no avail.
Since 2016, he began announcing several massive economic projects under the catchphrase Vision 2030 in late attempts to diversify the oil-dependent economy, foster privatization, and attract investors worldwide. After being appointed Crown Prince in July 2017, the country was involved in several diplomatic crises with Qatar and Lebanon. Later on, the country initiated much awaited domestic reforms on social and religious affairs, including the removal of the ban on female drivers. Later that year he carried out a massive purge against the so-called old guards of the royal family, and government and business establishment, which took a form of the anti-corruption campaign and lead to even bigger consolidation of power and seizure of the massive amount of assets.
His authoritarian thrust continues in 2018, with some but not exhaustively include the arrest of seven feminist activists, highly-publicized and meaningless feud with Canada, possible death penalty for a prominent Sunni cleric, criminalization of online satire with a maximum five years sentence, and ordering the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
In February 2019, Mohammed bin Salman defended China's Xinjiang re-education camps for Muslims, saying "China has the right to carry out anti-terrorism and de-extremisation work for its national security." Salman's comments received severe criticism worldwide. China has imprisoned up to 2 million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China's north-western province of Xinjiang in concentration camps, where they are allegedly subjected to abuse and torture. Miqdaad Versi, spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, called Prince Mohammed's remarks "disgusting" and a defence of "the use of concentration camps against Uighur Muslims."
MBS has shown support for Militant Islamist organizations including Al-Qaeda and The Islamic State. He is also Saudi Arabia's leader in the proxy conflict against Iran, and is extremely vocal about his hatred for Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as well as Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, urging him to cut ties with Iran.
- MbS has ties to Jeffrey Epstein, and is suspected as possibly being one of Epstein's co-conspirators.
- He has drawn comparisons to Kim Jong-un of North Korea due to 2-year long purge of various members of the House of Saud "old guard", similar to various purges that Kim conducted within his own family.
- Prince Mohammed is considered the architect of the war in Yemen. The war and blockade of Yemen has cost the kingdom tens of billions of dollars, further aggravated the humanitarian crisis in the country and destroyed much of Yemen's infrastructure, but failed to dislodge the Shi'ite Houthi rebels and their allies from the Yemeni capital. More than 50,000 children in Yemen died from starvation in 2017. From 2015 till May 2019 the number of total deaths of children is said to be approximately 85,000. The famine in Yemen is the direct result of the Saudi-led intervention and blockade of the rebel-held area.
- In November 2017, Mohammed bin Salman forced the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign when he visited Saudi Arabia. Mohammed bin Salman believed that Hariri was in the pocket of Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is a major political force in Lebanon. Hariri eventually was released, went back to Lebanon and annulled his resignation.
- His net worth is estimated to be 3 billion in United States dollars.
- In December 2017, a number of sources reported that the Crown Prince, using his close associate Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Farhan as an intermediary, had bought the Salvator Mundi possibly by Leonardo da Vinci; the sale in November at $450.3 million set a new record price for a work of art. This report has been denied by the auctioneer Christie's, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and the Government of the United Arab Emirates, which has announced that it is the actual owner of the painting. The current location of the painting is unknown.
- Despite Saudi Arabia's refusal to recognize the State of Israel, Prince Mohammed has voiced his support for a Jewish homeland, becoming the first ever senior Saudi royal to express such sentiments publicly. In fact, he has formed an alliance with Israel against Iran, pitting many other Arab countries into this. He has also condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to annex the eastern portion of the occupied West Bank known as the Jordan Valley.
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