By Javad Heirannia

Bin Salman's policies in line with Israel's regional foreign policy: expert

July 7, 2017

TEHRAN - A Middle East expert from South Alabama University says the policies of Mohammed bin Salman, who was recently promoted to the position of crown prince, are in conformity with the Zionist regime’s foreign policy in the region.

“Mohammed bin Salman's policies are in line with Israel's regional foreign policy,” Nader Entessar tells the Tehran Times.

Entessar agrees with the view that the reshuffle in the ruling Saudi hierarchy is a soft coup.

“This is akin to a soft coup d'etat that has the support of the U.S., the UAE as well as Israel,” he says. 

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: King Salman of Saudi Arabia dismissed crown prince Mohammed bin Naif and put his son Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince, in his place. What were the reasons behind the move?

A: According to some inside sources familiar with the Saudi royal family's inner workings, the 81-year old King Salman has been working behind the scenes for some time to remove Mohammed bin Naif from his posts as the crown prince and the interior minister.  Salman is the last son of the country's founder King Abdul Aziz, and he must have come to the conclusion that there is a need for change in the traditional succession to the monarchy's throne in order to guarantee a smooth transfer of power once he is gone.  We saw the same pattern in the succession to the Jordanian throne a few years ago.  Also, bin Naif has no male children.  King Salman must have been worried about the stability of the Saudi regime if the younger generation of the al-Saud family is not given the reign of power now.  Mohammed bin Salman has two daughters and two sons, Salman and Mashoor, whom he may want to elevate in the line of succession once he replaces his aging father as Saudi Arabia's monarch.

Q: What might be the reaction of the supporters of Bin Naif who was stripped of all his positions?

A: Although Mohammed bin Naif has supporters in the Saudi royal family, so far the indications are that they have grudgingly accepted the elevation of Mohammed bin Salman.  Of course, how bin Salman deals with internal strife within the al-Saud family will have an impact on the transition of power from one generation to the next in Saudi Arabia.

Q: Shall we think of the reshuffle as a soft coup d’état which has the support of the U.S. and the UAE?

A: Yes, this is akin to a soft coup d'etat that has the support of the U.S., the UAE as well as Israel.  Mohammed bin Salman's policies are in line with Israel's regional foreign policy, especially when it comes to Iran.  There are several reports that bin Salman and Israeli officials have met several times since 2015, including a meeting on the margins of the Arab summit in Jordan this March.  We should expect a stronger ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel under and more coordinated anti-Iran actions involving the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia.  In fact, there are several reports about regular meetings between Saudi Arabian, Israeli and U.S. officers in the "joint war room."

Q: What might be the influence of such a major reshuffle in the Saudi foreign policy, especially towards the region?

A: The most immediate impact will be reflected in a more aggressive and interventionist posture in Saudi foreign policy in the region.  Mohammed bin Salman has been the driving force behind Riyadh's destabilizing foreign policy and aggressive behavior towards its neighbors, especially the war against Yemen.  Bin Saman is also the most anti-Iran zealot in the Saudi leadership.  He will undoubtedly increase his anti-Iran fanaticism now that he has been officially been elevated in the Saudi succession hierarchy. 

Q: Is the reshuffle somehow related to Trump's trip to Riyadh in May?

A: As I had previously indicated, the reshuffle has been in the making for some time now and even before Trump had been elected as the U.S. president.  But Trump's morale-boosting trip to Saudi Arabia and his green-lighting Riyadh's hardline foreign policy had undoubtedly impacted the timing of the succession reshuffle in Saudi Arabia.

JH/PA

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