The rapid ascent of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the past several years has shaken Saudi Arabia. Delegated unusual authority by his aged father, King Salman, the crown prince has promised bold steps to modernize the economy and loosen social restrictions on youth and women. Yet his actions on these fronts have been overshadowed by his ruthless moves to intimidate rivals to the throne and silence dissidents at home and abroad. Mohammed’s aggressive foreign policies have also caused many to question his judgment. Now the COVID-19 pandemic and a fall in the oil market have added to the kingdom’s discontents.

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