MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman

Mar 16, 2021

-Terre Camille

Mohammed Bin Salman’s rise to power began way before he took power in 2015. TO this day, Saudi Arabia is one of the only monarchies still active today. Utilizing terms such as King and Prince, Saudi Arabia chose to maintain a sedentary lifestyle, choosing to remain conservative and resistant to most western influence. Over the past six years, Bin Salman’s rise to power has introduced a new culture in Saudi Arabia, one that challenges many of the cultural norms, and with such absolute power, the thought to voice any opposition would’ve been at your own risk.

Saudi Arabia’s history can be dated back to the 1700s during the rise of Lahab and the spread of Wahhabism throughout the land. Wahhabism was created by the great scholar Mohammed who is also the great grandfather (several times over) of the infamous Mohammed Bin Salman. Lahab teamed up with Mohammed who at the time was a clerical outcast and extremist, they took over Saudi Arabia through politics and religion. Fast forward to 2015, Mohammed Bin Salman pushes out all the other princes whose political power has been neutralized. Many of these princes were corrupt, holding positions in foreign affairs, national guard, defense ministry and the military, and provincial governors. Seeing the corruption that was taking place, the citizens of Saudi Arabia began the Iranian Revolution which started in 1979 and has undergone regime change after regime change since the start. This explains why when Mohammed Bin Salam took power, he chose to align with the Wahhabist of Saudi Arabia for this only further affirmed and legitimize his power. Another success of Bin Salman’s era was the ability to procure a relationship with the Trump Administration which caused major issues when it came to enforcing foreign policy because the Trump administration would always come to the defense of Bin Salman.

There has been a major climate shift in Saudi Arabia since Bin Salman took power, women can drive, citizens can attend movie theatres and concerts now, and the “arts” which were once frowned upon are now socially accepted. With two-thirds of the country being under 30 it’s interesting to see how “plugged into the world” this culture is. Saudis Arabians are known to carry multiple cell phones, have multiple Twitter accounts, largest consumers on YouTube, and even have a big Netflix footprint. This younger generation understands the world in a way the older Saudis didn’t. Unlike the leaders before him, Bin Salman initiated an incredible amount of social and economic reform but still refuses to reform politics. Bin Salman may have changed how the country practices Wahhabism but they still have a shaky political system and until that can be solidified Saudi Arabia will always be at the mercy of its usurper.

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