Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Ruling System | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz AFP

The ability of any political system to arrange governance when positions are changed is what determines its strength – this was embodied on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia when Prince Mohammed bin Salman replaced Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as a crown prince.

Bin Nayef congratulated Bin Salman, wishing him luck in his smoothly assigned task.

Observers see that the kingdom is changing rapidly – this calls on the governing administration to keep up with what’s expected from it. Change, however, must not be at the expense of stability. Pledging allegiance to Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince came within the framework of the political system and its traditions, i.e. the decision was made by the king, with the support of the royal family, and the pledge of allegiance by different sections of the society.

On Wednesday, the decision was announced and everything went normal. This is uncommon in the Middle East as change always passes through a period of difficulties. For 80 years, the Saudi political system has been stable and capable of making transitions under the leadership of the king who enjoys full loyalty.

We have seen transitions happen smoothly in Saudi Arabia as there have been five crown princes in seven years – whether in the case of death or assignments, transitions were carried out according to the same rules and royal traditions, different to what may happen in other regimes.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s age and experience in the modern government administration has made his assignment a new development – he provides the vitality, which Saudi Arabia needs in its modernizing projects launched under his direct supervision.

Since the 1970s, several researches and books have been written and have raised questions about Saudi Arabia’s ability to survive changes which time brings about, different generations and decrease of resources, not to mention the continuous challenge of how to balance continuity and modernization.

Those familiar with royal systems’ nature -especially the Saudi royal system – are aware that the most important characteristic is the kingdom’s ability to adapt. The king wants to bring youth to the fore so they are in harmony with the society.

Saudi Arabia has a young population – as much as 60 percent of them are below the age of 30. They expect the government to act upon their needs. As a result, modernizing projects mainly target the youth.

There are no many options for the government that has inherited a difficult legacy, in which development projects and managing of affairs are mainly based on oil revenues. For some time, oil revenues can be depended on but it is risky to continue relying on them and is a conspiracy on future generations.

The other option is to develop the state’s administrative capacity and reinterpret its tasks –This briefs the concept of modernization led by Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The new assignment also ends frequent questions about the state, the family, the position of the crown prince and the political future, cementing stability in this significant country in a disturbed region.

We cannot neglect former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef’s phase since he has developed Saudi security institutions and improved their work to susbsequently win the war on terror after the 2003 explosions.

Finally, the kingdom’s stability matters for the entire region’s stability and serves the interest of the region countries, including those that may disagree with Saudi policies. Chaos is contagious and it can spread just like stability.