MBS Is Increasingly Untouchable in Saudi Arabia—and the U.S.

MBS Is Increasingly Untouchable in Saudi Arabia—and the U.S.
Saudi special forces salute in front of a screen displaying images of Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, July 3, 2022 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

Saudi King Salman issued three royal orders last week to reshuffle his Cabinet. Of the three, the most notable is the first one, which named his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as prime minister. Although the position is symbolic, it nonetheless consolidates the crown prince’s de facto control of Saudi Arabia.

The decree naming MBS, as he is popularly known, as prime minister is an exception to Saudi Arabia’s Basic Law, whose Article 56 stipulates that the king is the prime minister of the kingdom. According to the constitution, Salman has the authority to delegate these powers, but the timing of the reshuffle raised some eyebrows due to recent questions that have arisen regarding the status MBS enjoys under U.S. law.

Those questions arose as part of a civil lawsuit brought against MBS by the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Saudi dissident journalist who was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four years ago last Sunday. A U.S. intelligence finding in February 2021 determined that MBS was responsible for Khashoggi’s killing, concluding in a document that was declassified last year that he had personally approved of the operation to capture or kill the journalist.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.