By Javad Heirannia

Mohammed bin Salman is architect of sanctions on Qatar: Mehran Kamrava

July 1, 2017

TEHRAN - Mehran Kamrava, a professor of the Middle East Studies in Georgetown University of Doha, tells the Tehran Times that Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is obviously the architect of sanctions against Qatar. 

MBS was promoted to the position of Saudi crown prince by his father King Salman on June 21, replacing Mohammed bin Nayef (MBN) who was second in line to the throne.

Kamrava also predicts that MBS as “a less refined diplomat” will adopt “a more assertive foreign policy” in the region. 
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What are the reasons behind Saudi King's decision to depose the sitting crown prince and replace him with his son Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz?

A: Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) powers have been clearly on the rise lately, and it is not surprising at all that he was appointed as the Crown Prince. He has been in charge of a number of very powerful institutions, and at the same time the powers of Mohammed bin Naif (MBN) have been on the decline. Especially in light of the recent developments in relation to Qatar, it is obvious that they are the work of MBS, and that MBS is increasingly powerful. He is credited with being the main force behind many of the changes and reforms that have been implemented in recent years, and anecdotal evidence indicates that he is very popular among young Saudis. So the removal of MBN and his replacement with MBS is not at all surprising.

Q: What might be the reaction of the supporters of Mohammed bin Naif who has been relieved of all his positions?

A: Nothing. Mohammed bin Naif’s powers have been severely limited lately, and he hasn’t really had a powerbase for the last couple of years. And the religious authorities have endorsed the changeover. This means that MBN and his supporters are completely marginalized and cannot display any negative reactions.

Q: Can the reshuffle be considered a soft coup d’état with the support of the U.S. and the UAE?

A: It is obvious that the UAE and the U.S. support the rise of MBS. But I would not say that they necessarily supported this change, and I would not call it a soft coup d’état. These sorts of changes in the line of succession have happened many times in the past.

Q: What might be the effect of such a major reshuffle on Saudi foreign policy, especially towards the region?

A: MBS is known for his tougher line against Iran, and now Qatar. He is also less experienced, and therefore a less refined diplomat, and so I think this will be reflected in a more assertive foreign policy by Saudi Arabia.

Q: Is the reshuffle somehow related to Trump's recent trip to Riyadh?

A: It is obvious that Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner think highly of MBS and are close to him. But I think the changeover was in process before Trump’s visit to Riyadh.

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