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Saudi king replaces nephew with son as heir to throne

ramblerrambler PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
(CNN) In a surprise reshuffle at the top of Saudi Arabia's royal hierarchy, the country's king has removed his nephew as crown prince in favor of his son, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Mohammed bin Salman will now be first in line to succeed his father King Salman as ruler of the Gulf nation, a key US ally.

The 31-year-old has been appointed deputy prime minister and will continue in his role as defense minister, according to a royal decree cited by state media.

Despite his youth, Mohammed bin Salman has long had a visible role in the government, and has spearheaded the kingdom's attempts to wean itself off oil as part of an economic strategy announced last year.

Key reform policies currently in place -- such as the Vision 2030 plan and a planned IPO by Saudi oil giant Aramco -- were already being driven by him.

As defense minister, he has overseen the Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen's Houthi rebels, which has caused the deaths of thousands of civilians since 2015 and left the country spiraling towards "total social, economic and institutional collapse," according to the United Nations.

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