Middle East: Saudi Arabia weakened as Iran plans to consolidate gains

Photo of Middle East: Saudi Arabia weakened as Iran plans to consolidate gains
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Yemen war and killing of Jamal Khashoggi have put pressure on the kingdom that shows no sign of letting up in 2019

If 2018 was the time of Mohammed bin Salman, the next year is likely to be anything but. It started swimmingly for the young Saudi heir; buy-in at home to an ambitious reform package, support from abroad to a bellicose regional agenda, and an ongoing bromance with another powerful 30-something, Jared Kushner, whose father-in-law, Donald Trump, had anointed Saudi Arabia as the Middle East’s pre-eminent power.

The momentum fell apart in seven minutes; the time it took to kill a dissident inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October. The shocking assassination has led nearly every aspect of Prince Mohammed’s agenda to be scrutinised, and its central planks to be challenged by allies and sceptics who had initially warmed to the crown prince.

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