The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), has declared in an interview that Saudi Arabia would develop nuclear weapons if the Iranian regime was to develop the nuclear weapon :
“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
The 32-year old Crown Prince also had very strong words about the Ayatollah Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, as he was describing the rise in influence of the Iranian regime :
“He wants to expand. He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time. Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”
In may 2017, the Trump administration announced the biggest weapons deal in history with Saudi Arabia, which will rank up $350 billion USD over the next decade. The immediate sale of weapons reached $110 billion USD and contained “Abrams tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar, and communications and cyber security technology”, according to the Associated Press. President Trump’s first visit abroad was in Saudi Arabia where the weapons deal was announced. Saudi officials also announced they were partners in the fight against terrorism, a conference during which the now-infamous picture with a glowing orb was captured :
In November, an anti-corruption committee, created by the Prince, arrested more than 500 high-ranking princes, businessmen, and members of the elite who were suspected of corruption. In an article published by the Guardian in January 2018, Saudi officials claimed to have “recouped more than 100 billion USD through its anti-corruption purge and jailed up to 56 royal family members and businessmen who refused to surrender their wealth in return for freedom.”
Bin Salman also acted as the primary architect of Operation Decisive Storm, enacted to remove the Houthi rebels from power in Yemen. The coalition, composed of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal, also gathered support from the United States, which enforces the naval blockade, provides intelligence to the Saudis and refuels their bombers.
The death toll had risen above 10,000 in January of 2017, as the cholera epidemic striking the country reached a million cases in December 2017. The United Nations recently described the situation as a “deepening catastrophe”, with UN-General Secretary Antonio Guterres declaring that “millions of Yemenis risk mass hunger, disease and death”. UN’s aid chief has declared that without resolve, the conflict would become the “worst humanitarian crisis in 50 years”, a situation that was described as “looking like the Apocalypse”. Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince have little to show for the intervention, as the Houthis remain in control of the capital, Sana’a.
Mohammed Bin Salman also intends to champion the Saudi Vision 2030. He declared wanting to diversify the Saudi economy, as the petroleum sector brings 87% of budget revenue. As of the first quarter of 2017, unemployment had risen to 12,7%. The Saudi Vision 2030 also includes a number of social reforms. It is Bin Salman’s declared goal to modernize Saudi Arabia.
At only 32 years old, Mohammed Bin Salman already displays massive influence within the Middle-East and will likely remain an active actor of international affairs in the coming years, as he consolidates his power within the Saudi kingdom.