“New Heir to Saudi Throne Is Relatively Liberal Outsider”
Reuters, January 23, 2015
“Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince Muqrin represents the biggest break from the kingdom’s tradition of any of his predecessors in the role – both because of his lowly maternal birth and his foreign education. … [T]he 69-year-old heir to King Salman will be the first Saudi monarch born after the birthplace of Islam struck oil in 1939, and the first to attend a Western university instead of the home classes run by clerics in Riyadh’s old mud palace. And, as the son of King Abdulaziz by a Yemeni woman instead of a wife of high tribal birth, he has no full siblings in the ruling dynasty and has often been seen as something of an outsider, condescended to by haughtier relatives. … ‘He gives you an impression of a progressive guy who knows the world very well. When he was governor of Medina he made reforms and he is into culture and music,’ said Jamal Khashoggi, head of a television news channel owned by another prince. ‘He’s bilingual and an avid reader of The Economist. It’s his favorite magazine,’ he added. … Prince Muqrin trained as a military pilot at Cranwell, a British Royal Air Force base, and is described by diplomats as outgoing and gregarious. … He served as intelligence chief from 2005 to 2012, a challenging period when the kingdom put down a determined insurgency by al Qaeda militants and sought to stave off instability from neighboring Iraq, where Islamist armed groups were fighting U.S. occupation.”
Quickie Analysis: Much is being made right now of the new Saudi king, Salman. However, Salman is 79, has had at least one stroke, and reportedly suffers from dementia. This article is about Salman’s heir-designate, who may yield considerable influence well before he inherits the throne.