Breakingviews: As Saudi’s new crown prince rises, so could oil

Andy Critchlow
Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud of Saudi Arabia
Bandar Algaloud | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Saudi Arabia's new crown prince has just been handed clear accountability for three big challenges. Mohammed bin Salman, as newly instated heir to the throne, now has greater powers to push through reforms of the Middle East's largest economy and even a stronger hand in settling old scores with Gulf neighbors. But it is in tackling the low oil price that he can make a big difference relatively quickly.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz's decision to elevate his favorite son above his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef in the kingdom's line of succession was always a question of when, not if. The royal decree published on Wednesday relieved the former crown prince of all his responsibilities and demanded the allegiance of subjects to 31-year-old bin Salman. The millennial prince has been a champion of social and economic modernization, pushing for the listing of oil producer Saudi Aramco and the formation of a huge sovereign wealth fund. But he is also seen as a major driver of Saudi's recent decision to cut off ties with Qatar for being too close to Saudi's long-term enemy Iran.