14 Things You Need To Know About Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman


The coalition of Gulf states that Saudi Arabia assembled is targeting the Houthi, a group of dissidents turned rebels that had taken control of the country. Saudi Arabia — and the United States — has said the group is backed by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival.

The campaign in Yemen has been criticized for years now for its indiscriminate nature. More than 17,000 civilians have died since the war’s beginning. The United Nations warned on Tuesday of “an imminent and great big famine engulfing Yemen” as a result of the ongoing fighting.

Prince Mohammed’s ascension marked the first time that the crown would pass to the son of a current monarch, as we noted last year. (That post, headlined “Saudi Arabia’s Next King Will Be a Millennial, So That’s Weird,” feels a little too lighthearted in retrospect, given what came next.) Since the death of King Abdulaziz al-Saud, the first Saudi king, the throne has been gone to the next youngest of his sons. This has meant that the age of the kings has continued to rise — and their time on the throne continued decline — as time has passed. Prince Mohammed, on the other hand, has the potential to remain on the throne for up to 50 years once he’s eventually coronated.

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal — one of the richest individuals in Saudi Arabia — was held for 83 days. The Wall Street Journal later reported that the government demanded he pay $6 billion for his release. (He has not publicly commented on what was necessary to gain his freedom.) Others among the royals also reportedly had to cough up funds to the government in order to secure their exit.

After the shock resignation, Hariri then stayed in Saudi Arabia nearly two weeks, much to the concern of Lebanese politicians and the confusion of the world. Lebanon’s president reportedly told foreign ambassadors that Hariri had been “kidnapped” in Saudi Arabia.

When he finally did return to Lebanon, Hariri immediately rescinded his resignation. Later reports indicated that he was detained while in Saudi Arabia soon after landing, due to his unwillingness to denounce Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed group in Lebanon that is considered a terrorist group to the US and Europe and has both armed and political wings. The political wing is part of Lebanon’s ruling coalition.

The identity of buyer was originally hidden before the Wall Street Journal first reported the bin Salman connection. The Saudi Embassy to the United States has since denied that MbS is the owner, and the painting is currently on display in the United Arab Emirates — a close ally of Saudi Arabia.

While on his jaunt, he visited the White House and Pentagon, dined with Morgan Freeman at Rupert Murdoch’s home, spent time at MIT, and met with Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Bill Gates of Microsoft in Seattle.

The official story from Saudi Arabia shifted several times over the weeks, from Khashoggi leaving the consulate soon after his scheduled appointment to Khashoggi dying after getting into a fistfight with a team of Saudi operatives who just happened to be in Istanbul to dying in a chokehold. The Saudi government has blamed Saud al-Qahtani, one of MbS’s top aides, for Khashoggi’s death.

As of Friday, King Salman announced, Mohammed bin Salman has been named the head of a body that will investigate Khashoggi’s death and overhaul the intelligence services.

But MbS seemed decidedly unbothered during a panel at the conference on Wednesday, joking about the previous year’s detention of Hariri — with Hariri sitting next to him — and insisting that “justice will prevail” in the investigation into Khashoggi’s death.

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