Crown Prince's New Job Could Give Him Immunity in Khashoggi Killing

Mohammed bin Salman appointed prime minister by royal decree
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 28, 2022 1:00 AM CDT
Saudi Arabia's Controversial Crown Prince Is Now Its PM, Too
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reaches out to shake hands with French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives for a dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday July 28, 2022.   (AP Photo/Lewis Joly, File)

Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed prime minister on Tuesday by royal decree, the AP reports. The crown prince, who is heir to the throne held by King Salman, already wields wide powers and is seen as the kingdom's day-to-day leader. The royal decree appointing him as prime minister was carried by the Saudi Press Agency. It said King Salman will continue to chair the Cabinet meetings that he attends. The 37-year-old crown prince, widely known by the acronym MBS, has taken the lead on Vision 2030, the kingdom’s wide-ranging plan to transform its economy and end its dependency on oil. The Saudi monarch traditionally holds the title of PM, the Wall Street Journal reports. The 86-year-old king has had a number of health issues since 2020.

The crown prince is also associated with the October 2018 killing of Saudi journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. US intelligence found that the crown prince likely approved the killing; he said in 2019 that he took “full responsibility” for the killing since it happened on his watch, but denied ordering it. President Biden once vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the killing, but he visited the kingdom and met with the crown prince earlier this year, acknowledging the continued importance of relations with the world's largest oil exporter. Per the Journal, this new title could possibly grant MBS immunity from prosecution and lawsuits in US courts, and DAWN, the Democracy for the Arab World Now organization founded by Khashoggi, alleges the move is indeed intended to shield him from accountability for crimes.

(More Mohammed bin Salman stories.)

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