Mohammed bin Salman “is trying to make people understand that this is no longer business as usual,” Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University, has said.
Referring to the Saudi crown prince’s reform agenda, which includes diversifying the country’s economy and reforming the public sector, Haykel said that if it remains business as usual, “there is no way that he will ever be able to succeed with Vision 2030.”
“I think there’s a real realization that, for him to succeed, he has to crack the whip”, Haykel wrote in Foreign Policy magazine.
According to him, in doing so, however, the crown prince is consolidating his own power to a degree that Saudi Arabia has not seen in generations.
Recent Saudi leaders, Haykel said, had tried to build consensus among all the branches of the royal family — and in doing so, had created an unwieldy system that was at times incapable of making decisions.
Mohammed bin Salman is returning Saudi Arabia to the consolidated power dynamics of Ibn Saud, the first Saudi king, according to Haykel.
The difference, however, is that the current crown prince has a full, modern state — with all its instruments of power — at his disposal, which was not the case earlier, he said.
He added that, in effect, he and his father are the most powerful leaders Saudi Arabia has ever seen.