Weekly Geopolitical Report – A Coup in Riyadh (July 31, 2017)

by Bill O’Grady

On June 20th, King Salman of Saudi Arabia announced that his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS, as he is affectionately known), would be the new crown prince, replacing Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.  Although the move was momentous, it was not necessarily unexpected.  MbS’s stature in the kingdom had been rising since he was appointed as deputy crown prince in 2015, while Prince Nayef, who had been appointed as crown prince at the same time, held a lower profile and was generally overshadowed by his younger cousin.

However, over the past two weeks, details of the change emerged in the major U.S. media.[1]  Although the initial reports suggested the change was consensual, recent articles, referenced below, make it clear that Prince Nayef was ousted.

In this report, we will discuss the history of the succession of Saudi kings to highlight how the eventual ascension of MbS will represent a major break with history.  We will then examine the details of the ouster and the potential for opposition to MbS taking power.  We will analyze what the eventual kingship of MbS might mean for the region.  As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

View the full report

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-palace-coup-idUSKBN1A41IS