Saudi Arabia’s elderly king sent a strong signal this weekend that his handpicked heir, 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, remains in good standing despite the gruesome killing of a prominent government critic that many at home and abroad suspect he set in motion.
Yet the events of the past few weeks have sharpened differences between the prince and royal family members who were beginning to question his judgment and temperament. And there is no sign that the global backlash over the killing will abate soon, testing Saudi Arabia’s modernization of its economy and its relationship with its most important ally, the U.S.
Speaking after a political rally in Nevada on Saturday, Mr. Trump told reporters he wasn’t satisfied with the initial results of the Saudi investigation. “I’m not satisfied until we find the answer,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he would consider sanctions, but not on military sales. He added that “it’s possible” the crown prince didn’t know about the killing, and that he was still looking to speak with him.
People in Prince Mohammed’s camp say his power internally remains largely unchecked, and there is no indication the Saudi monarch is preparing to remove his son. The prospect of a family member pushing him aside is negligible, advisers say, largely because Prince Mohammed has solidified his power base by removing potential rivals.