Mohammad Bin Salman: The World Tour

Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is making his rounds around the Western nations -- with the most recent being the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud following the signing by President Donald Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia of the Joint Strategic Vision Statement for the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during ceremonies, Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the Royal Court Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead)

For the past few months, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has been making its rounds to western nations; last week, his world tour even made a pit stop in the United States.

MBS is known for bringing reforms to his notoriously conservative kingdom and being highly ambitious, from spearheading the bombardment of Yemen and launching “anti-corruption” campaigns against business elites and other members of the royal family in Saudi. MBS is determined to leave his mark on Saudi, instituting reforms such as allowing women to drive – radical idea, right?

However, MBS’s drive for change does not end within the confines of his own country; in fact, his first bout with international politics came about a couple years ago when he committed a Saudi-led coalition in an aerial bombing campaign against the Houthi Rebels who had seized power and overthrown President Hadi’s regime. This has been nothing short of an uphill battle for the Crown Prince as many saw the Saudis as the aggressors in this situation and outside of Washington, London, and Tel Aviv he had little support for his actions. Similarly, he has been playing a tactical role in trying to drum up anti-Assad sentiments in the Middle East, resulting in growing anti-Saudi sentiment.

                In order to help legitimize his position and, of course, himself, MBS has embarked on what appears to be both a goodwill tour and PR stunt. The first stop on MBS: Live in Concert was the UK, in which he received warm welcomes from Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. As of April, he ventured to the United States, surprisingly meeting with groups such as AIPAC and Anti-BDS groups. While this may not come as a shock, it is important to consider the general Middle Eastern attitude toward these groups; typically, in the Middle East, predominantly Islamically and Arab countries, in solidarity with the Palestinian cause, refuse to even acknowledge the Zionist Regime. This shift, although welcomed by some, are causing panic to many as it signals Saudi Arabia’s willingness to accept the validity of the Israel nation, while throwing the Palestinians under the bus.

Now, only time will tell if he will be ousted like Pahlavi before him or if he will be the reform the Kingdom seeks. In the meantime, MBS can take in the sights of the grand tour (and maybe he’ll take some Western ideas home as souvenirs, too.)

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