Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Bilal Y. Saab writes for Foreign Affairs on Saudi Arabia’s King Salman:
King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz will be remembered for his relatively reformist mindset and bold foreign policy initiatives. But the Saudi leader’s passing will have little to no impact on the Kingdom’s future, especially given the set of increasingly difficult challenges the country will have to face at home and abroad.
Leadership matters, especially in the Middle East, where institutions are weak and often nonexistent. But charisma and talent, on their own, won’t be enough to dig Saudi Arabia out of the profound generational problems that go beyond Abdullah, his successor Salman, or any leader who will preside over the Kingdom. Diversifying the economy, reducing unemployment, practicing good governance, further empowering women, combating the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), checking Iran’s advances, improving relations with Washington, stabilizing Yemen, and leading the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—to name just a few—will require team work.