TEHRAN TIMES -- Mahmood Monshipouri, Ph.D., teaches Middle Eastern politics at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley. He is the editor, most recently, of ”Information Politics, Protests and Human Rights in the Digital Age” (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016). He wrote an opinion piece on new challenges in Saudi Arabia following the removal of Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince.
“Nayef has been known in the West as a key Saudi security partner in a crackdown against al-Qaeda especially since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Having survived four assassination attempts, Nayef became permanently if partially ill because of one of those attacks conducted by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber in 2009.
“This significant reshuffling has pushed Prince Mohammed and his so-called ‘Vision 2030’ plan to the forefront of Kingdom’s political stage. Exactly where this vision takes Saudi Arabia in the future remains open to debate. Also uncertain is how far the new generation of young leaders in Riyadh will go to change the country’s welfare state economy by restructuring its oil-dependent economy in the wake of slump in oil prices and persistent ultra-conservative cultural pressures.
“What is certain, however, is that Prince Mohammed’s promotion to power comes at a difficult time, when the entire Middle East and North Africa region faces daunting challenges and the Saudi Arabia itself encounters numerous internal problems, ranging from low oil prices to a substantial increase in the size of younger cohorts of unemployed who are angry, vocal, and eager for social change. The lingering civil war in Yemen, which has tied down Saudis’ hands in an unwinnable crisis next door, has also presented new problems to the Saudis leadership.”