Photos: Bloomberg, Getty; photo illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg
Balance of Power: How to Read the Saudi ShakeupBy and
Saudi watchers have long expected King Salman to find a way to install his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, as his heir. Few expected it to come so soon.
Today’s elevation of MBS, as the new crown prince is widely known, came at the expense of the King’s nephew, Muhammad bin Nayef. The 57-year-old was also stripped of his duties as interior minister.
MBS was already running oil policy, the economy and defense. To many, especially the young, he was seen as a harbinger of change in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia. His high-octane approach to the Middle East’s problems has also meshed neatly with the agenda of President Donald Trump.
To others in the kingdom, however, his willingness to take risks looks more like recklessness; the domestic and foreign policy challenges MBS has taken on are piling up.
There’s his plan to diversify the economy away from oil, including selling shares in national energy giant Saudi Aramco. Then there’s an increasingly fruitless war in Yemen, a hardening confrontation with Iran and, most recently, the decision to cut off neighboring Qatar.
Why now? That’s unclear. But if there was any doubt before, it looks like MBS’s policies are here to stay.
Democrats fall short in Georgia | Republican Karen Handel won a hotly contested Atlanta-area House race last night, the most expensive in U.S. history. It was a setback for Democrats who had hoped that the special election would provide a blueprint on how to transform Trump’s low approval ratings into congressional seats ahead of next year’s midterms.
China rebuffs Trump on North Korea | Beijing responded coolly to yesterday's tweet from Trump dismissing Xi Jinping’s efforts to rein in the Hermit Kingdom after the death of U.S. student Otto Warmbier. China’s efforts in seeking peace on the Korean peninsula have been “indispensable” and its leaders won't succumb to “external pressure,” the foreign ministry said.
The Queen’s Speech | Elizabeth II will read out her government’s legislative agenda for the next two years today. The program will be heavy on Brexit and likely light on anything controversial, as potential allies send out mixed signals over their support for Theresa May's minority government, Rob Hutton writes. Hanging over the whole event is the question of how long May can stay as prime minister.
Ruthless Macron | President Emmanuel Macron asserted his dominance over French politics by forcing the resignation of a one-time rival. Justice Minister Francois Bayrou, who mulled his own run for the presidency, has irritated Macron with excessive demands and was recently drawn into a party funding scandal. His departure “simplifies the situation,” a spokesman said.
Australians back U.S. despite Trump | Despite Trump’s difficult start with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a now-infamous phone call, a poll showed 65 percent of Australians want their country to remain close to the U.S., and 77 percent see the alliance as important for security. One possible reason: fears of China’s potential military threat.
And finally ... Trump’s property portfolio isn’t bringing in as much cash as his bankers had expected. That’s the biggest finding in an updated assessment of the president’s net worth, which has slipped to $2.9 billion from $3 billion a year ago, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The decline is largely driven by a drop in the value of three Manhattan office buildings, including Trump Tower.