Jun 21, 2017

Saudi king replaces crown prince with "radical reformer" son

Hassan Ammar / AP

King Salman of Saudi Arabia ordered a royal shakeup Wednesday when he appointed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman to be next in line to the throne, replacing the king's nephew, 57-year-old Mohammed bin Nayef, as crown prince.

Omar Al-Ubaydli, an affiliated senior scholar at George Mason's Mercatus Center, tells Axios the appointment will be welcomed by the country's foreign investors, because "it will diminish doubts that they may have held regarding the implementation" of the Saudi Vision 2030. That vision "seeks to decrease the country's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and loosen some of the conservative, Islamic Kingdom's social restrictions," per NYT.

What's next: Al-Ubaydli also explains that the move may spark revolutionary changes as well, as Muhammad Bin Salman is considered a "radical reformer" by Saudi standards:

"This reshuffle increases the likelihood that revolutionary changes will truly be made, most importantly the empowerment of the private sector, and the commitment to the principle that the government's role in the economy should be restricted to oversight and macroscopic strategic planning."

The king's son has taken on a visible role in government in the months since his father ascended the throne in January. In his role as defense minister, a position he'll keep moving forward, Mohammed bin Salman has:

  • Led Saudi Vision 2030, which places greater emphasis on foreign engagement and development.
  • Overseen the Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen's Houthi rebels.
  • Has taken a hard-line on Iran, and accused them of trying to take over Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

Other leadership changes: The king also removed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from his post as interior minister, and replaced him with a relatively unknown prince, Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef. The king also recently named one of his other sons, Prince Khalid bin Salman, as ambassador to the U.S.

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President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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