Earlier today the Middle East Policy Council posted a new monthly article co-written by Matt. Titled “Change and Succession in Saudi Arabia,” it details the changes made since Crown Prince Sultan died on October 22. Since then, ministries have been reshuffled and powers adjusted; new and old characters are taking on different portfolios; and the Allegiance Commission is, after five years, starting to find it’s place as a failsafe for smooth power transitions. The article argues that the “succession order now in place is much more robust than the dicey uncertainty which prevailed over the past several years, when a very ill Crown Prince was nevertheless a heart-beat away from the throne.” Definitely worth reading for those interested in Saudi Arabia and the durability of the monarchy. A great deal of commentary now either dismisses Saudi succession procedures–concluding they will fail–or is overly judgmental, leading some to conclude it’s only a matter of time before the monarchy collapses due to inertia and its undemocratic traditions. This piece instead tries to fill in a gap in knowledge: it details Saudi succession procedures, who is in power now, what powers they enjoy, and what the prospects are for continuity of policy.
Bonus for Oman lovers: Uri Friedman has a new post on Foreign Policy in which the author asks, “How did Oman become the Denzel Washington of Middle East hostage situations?” Worth reading too, as it explains Oman’s foreign policy vision and it’s role in a tough neighborhood.