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The incredible influence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

MBS and Trump
Trump holds up a chart of military sales to Saudi Arabia during an Oval Office meeting with Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Kevin Dietsch / Pool via Getty Images

As Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues his grand tour of the U.S., The New Yorker's Dexter Filkins delivers a paragraph in "A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East" that could have a whole book written about it:

"[I]n the months that followed [Trump's May 2017 summit in Riyadh], a series of dramatic events suggested that the attendees had quietly made a number of major decisions. Trump declared that the U.S. would move its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem ... M.B.S. leapfrogged over [his cousin Mohammed] bin Nayef to become crown prince. And the Gulf monarchies, led by Saudi Arabia, entered an open confrontation with Qatar."
  • The crown prince's "purges of rivals, and his creation of what amounted to a cult of personality, appeared ... to leave the country’s institutions enfeebled. ... Still, his supporters in both Washington and Riyadh feel that, whatever his faults, the alternative would be worse."
  • Why it matters: "The appointments of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and John Bolton as national-security adviser presage an even more hawkish era, in which there will be few constraints on M.B.S.’s regional ambitions."
  • Worthy of your time.

P.S. Hollywood gives M.B.S. the royal treatment, per L.A. Times:

  • "The royal heir apparent, who learned English by watching films as a child, is expected to dine at producer Brian Grazer’s Santa Monica home, attend an event at Rupert Murdoch’s Bel-Air estate and meet with show business power players, including talent agency boss Ari Emanuel and Walt Disney Co. chief Bob Iger."