The commentary argues the Saudi-Qatari tensions lie in conflicting perspectives about the role of political Islam within the fabric of both states and their actions regionally. Fundamentally, the rivalry stems from contrasting relations between political and religious elites in each country which has taken on increasing political importance in tensions between Riyadh and Doha. Central to much of this are questions about the role played by the Muslim Brotherhood (and its various affiliates). More relatedly, the Saudi-Qatari rifts emerge out of competing understandings of authority and legitimacy, and with it, concern at the contestation of these claims.
Over the past year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has experienced
a period of rapid transformation under the direction of a
new Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the son of the current
King. Domestically, Bin Salman has overseen political reform
in the upper echelons of the al-Saud ruling family, whilst embarking
on a more pro-actively anti-Iranian foreign policy. This article
looks at the actions of the new crown prince to explore the impact
of Bin Salman’s influence on both the Kingdom and the Middle
East more broadly.