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  • Check out these two Saudi princes.

  • This one's the 57 year old crown prince,

  • And this one (the one doing all the hand kissing) is his younger cousin.

  • Listen to what the older cousin is saying:

  • He's being forced to give up his power and to pass the crown prince title

  • to his younger cousin, a guy who's almost half his age.

  • This is Mohammed bin Salman.

  • In the West we just call him MBS.

  • And since this moment in June he's consolidated power so swiftly and so thoroughly

  • that in Saudi Arabia they just know him as Mr. Everything.

  • As crown prince, MBS will become king

  • And with all of this new power, MBS is seeking to assert his dominance throughout the Middle East

  • One of his big policies has been a vehement opposition to Saudi Arabia's neighbor, Iran.

  • On that note he's found an ally in the White House.

  • Inside the kingdom, MBS is also seeking to cement his authority

  • and his dominance over the Royal Family.

  • Saudi Arabia's young crown prince arresting hundreds of his own cousins

  • Crackdown on corruption

  • 11 princes and nearly 40 current or former officials detained,

  • reportedly being held at the lavish Ritz Carlton.

  • (Yes, if you're a Saudi Prince, "jail" is the Ritz Carlton.)

  • MBS called this a corruption crackdown and he branded himself as the financially responsible anti

  • corruption leader.

  • But we're talking about a guy who recently purchased one of the most expensive homes

  • in the world and who last year spent half a billion dollars on a painting.

  • He clearly had other motives for this crackdown beyond fiscal responsibility.

  • One thing to realize is that the Saudi royal family is made up of thousands of members

  • who use public money generated from oil revenues to fund their unthinkably excessive lifestyles.

  • So it wouldn't be hard for MBS

  • to crack down on anyone he wants to.

  • Coming into power, MBS' second big move

  • was to loosen the strict moral and social rules of the kingdom.

  • He stripped the religious police of their right to make arrests.

  • He expanded women's right in society including giving them the right to drive.

  • On the surface, these are progressive social reforms meant to modernize Saudi society.

  • But like the anti corruption crackdowns, the move is another effort to seize power.

  • Saudi society is built on a

  • sort of pact between the royal familyjust called the house of Saudand a vast religious establishment,

  • run by conservative Islamic clerics.

  • The clerics give the Saud family legitimacy, by giving them their blessing as rulers of the kingdom.

  • In exchange, the family allows the clerics to strictly enforce their uncompromising, puritanical

  • version of Islam within the kingdom.

  • This Faustian bargain means that Saudi princes, like MBS and others,

  • can live these indulgent lifestyles and make deals with the West,

  • but still retain religious legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

  • It's a balance that has kept the Kingdom stable in this very volatile region.

  • But now, MBS has violated his family's part of the bargain, arresting hard line clerics

  • who might speak out against his progressive reforms.

  • This could shake one of the foundational pillars of Saudi society.

  • The third way MBS is shaking up the kingdom is his plans for the economy.

  • The kingdom's revenue comes almost entirely from oil.

  • Demand for oil has remained solid for decades and Saudi Arabia reaped the rewards of that.

  • But in 2014, the price of oil started to drop.

  • And it became clear that betting the entire kingdom's economy on this one resource,

  • was a dangerous strategy for the future.

  • So MBS wants to end what he calls thisOil Addiction,” in order to prepare for

  • a world after oil.

  • He's laid out a vision of privatizing a lot of sectors within the Saudi economy.

  • And breaking up this giant, government-owned oil business.

  • But this reform could also create more instability.

  • Thanks to the endless oil money, Saudi citizens are entitled to a lifelong set of benefits,

  • like free healthcare and subsidized housing.

  • But as MBS tries to privatize the economy

  • and move away from oil,

  • this subsidized lifestyle that so many Saudis enjoy

  • could be threatened and the public support that has kept this monarchy so solid for so many years

  • could begin to dwindle.

  • The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is on the brink of one of the biggest transformations in its history.

  • As this young leader consolidates power

  • to upend the status quo, he may also upend the

  • pillars that have kept the kingdom one of the more stable countries in the Middle East.

Check out these two Saudi princes.

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The 32-year-old prince who's shaking up Saudi Arabia

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    April Lu posted on 2018/08/20
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