The recent arrests of a number of Saudi princes and other officials have introduced a new element of uncertainty into the region. This was compounded by the unexpected resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in a speech from Riyadh, where he railed against malign Iranian influence in Lebanon and across the region. Emerging from this chaos is a clear message that the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is consolidating power domestically and neutralizing those who might impede his rise to the throne.

To discuss these developments, Diwan spoke with Nathan Brown, a nonresident senior fellow in the Carnegie Middle East program. His research focuses on religious establishments and Arab law and constitutionalism. In a recent post for Diwan, he examined the uncertainty surrounding succession in many Gulf monarchies. In Saudi Arabia in particular the path to the throne is subject to both written and unwritten rules as well as the prevailing state of royal politics.

Brown’s most recent article for Carnegie, “The Remaking of the Saudi State,” examines the ongoing structural changes in the kingdom leading it toward more centralized governance, alongside a growing yet severely repressed public discourse on the trajectory of the country. He notes that taken together, these trends may have a deeply destabilizing effect.