King Salman: A man who means business on his first 100 days

The first 100 days in office of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman heralds a new era in Saudi Arabia’s modern history. Within this short period, King Salman was able to bring about qualitative changes in the country, which have received widespread acclaim from people inside and outside the Kingdom.

Under the new king, Saudi Arabia has drawn a firm boundary with Iran. To prevent Tehran from interfering in Arab countries, the Kingdom formed a heavyweight political and military alliance under the umbrella of Operation Decisive Storm. This was the first time Arab countries were able to form such an alliance on their own free will.

The events that have taken place in Saudi Arabia over the past 100 days were extraordinary by all standards. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated: “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has accomplished in 10 days tasks that new leaders usually take 100 days.”

The main reason for this amazing performance, which the U.N. chief may not realize, is that King Salman has been one of the pillars of the Saudi government for 50 years, as a close adviser to all the previous kings. As result, he knows all the minutiae of governance, and what decisions should be taken at this stage.

King Salman’s recent decisions have reinforced the unity and strength of the ruling royal family. Upon his request, senior royal family members pledged their allegiance to Prince Mohammed bin Naif as crown prince, deputy premier and minister of interior, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman as deputy crown prince, second deputy premier and minister of defense.

The selection of the new crown prince and deputy crown prince with the Allegiance Council’s approval reinforces the concept of legitimacy and the rule of law.

A smooth transfer of power

The Allegiance Council is an important system introduced by King Abdullah to ensure a smooth transfer of power in the Kingdom with the approval of the sons of King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia.

King Salman’s unique administrative policy has strengthened people’s respect for the law, and the state’s power and prestige

Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi

The formation of the Council of Political and Security Affairs and the Council of Economic and Development Affairs was another significant decision taken by the king after closing down several councils and committees. The move was primarily aimed at getting rid of bureaucracy and improving efficiency.

The new changes are likely to expedite decisions, prevent overlapping, facilitate activities of ministries and reduce the number of authorities to be approached for getting things done. This is one of the important steps taken by the king to speed up the decision making process in the country.

With regard to foreign policy, the Kingdom’s stand on events in Yemen is an indicator of its principled political line. Saudi Arabia has played a leading role in presenting the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative to reinforce peace and stability in that country. It also proposed a number of political initiatives to save Yemen from falling into civil war.

But when the Houthis overthrew the country’s legitimate government and occupied Aden, Saudi Arabia took a firm decision that resulted in the formation of a coalition that has restored the power and prestige of Arabs.

King Salman launched Operation Decisive Storm, followed by Operation Restoring Hope, which reflected the Kingdom’s commitment to confront the aggressors and bring hope to impoverished Yemenis. King Salman did not stop there, but also issued a decree to correct the legal status of Yemenis living in the Kingdom. This has been widely welcomed by all Yemenis.

The king also ordered the establishment of a center in Riyadh to coordinate relief activities in Yemen. These decisions indicate that Operation Decisive Storm was for Yemenis. Throughout history, Saudi Arabia has been the largest supporter of Yemen. It also hosts the largest Yemeni community outside their country.

King Salman has also dealt swiftly with officials who made mistakes or abused citizens. For him performance and professionalism are the main criteria for appointing ministers and officials and he has proved many times that nobody is above the law. King Salman’s unique administrative policy has strengthened people’s respect for the law, and the state’s power and prestige.

Saudi Arabia is going through a new phase. A new generation of leaders are at the helm of the decision making process, which gives glad tidings about a bright and prosperous future.


This article was first published in Arab News on May 7, 2015.


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Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi is the editor-in-chief of Sayidaty and al-Jamila magazines. A prominent journalist who worked with Asharq al-Awsat in London and Arab News in KSA, al-Harthi later moved on to establish al-Eqtisadiah newspaper in KSA, in which he rose the position of Editorial Manager. He was appointed editor-in-chief for Arajol magazine in 1997. He won the Gulf Excellence award in 1992. You can follow him on Twitter here: @mfalharthi

 

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