Saudi Arabia’s young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has created political waves, both at home and abroad. These can easily get out of control and further destabilise and inflame the region. It is a power grab by a single-family line in the country where ‘power is shared and alternated among seven major families and decisions taken by consensus…’ as one analyst has put it.In the process, he has arrested all his perceived royal rivals, as well as some rich prominent businessmen and owners of three main quasi-independent private television stations on corruption charges, which is rather funny because the entire Saudi state is built on corruption where there is not much to distinguish between public and royal family finances.And he has simultaneously raised the tempo in the region. Riyadh, for no real reasons, raised the temperature with Qatar, upped the ante with Iran, sought to destabilise Lebanon when its Prime Minister Hariri announced his resignation while in Riyadh, because of Hezbollah and Iran’s meddling in the region. Hariri’s resignation was widely attributed to the Saudi pressure but since then, he has returned to Lebanon after a detour to France where the French President Macron invited him.One important reason for its timing, both home and abroad is the level of support Riyadh is getting from President Trump. Commenting on the arrests of some of the royals and others, Trump tweeted that: ‘Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years.’ And in the region, Trump has encouraged Saudi Arabia to sharpen its rivalry with Iran and its ally, Hezbollah, for their meddling in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. By refusing to certify the Iran-US nuclear deal, which Riyadh had vehemently opposed, the US and Saudi Arabia have forged even closer bonds that had frayed during Obama’s presidency.Even more importantly and dangerously, Riyadh and Tel Aviv are reportedly seeking to forge a common front against Iran’s influence in the region. If it happens, this move will lead to a momentous change in regional geopolitics, with unpredictable resultsEven more importantly and dangerously, Riyadh and Tel Aviv are reportedly seeking to forge a common front against Iran’s influence in the region. If it happens, this move will be a momentous change in regional geopolitics, with unpredictable results. Among other things, it would mean that the Palestinian question would be further relegated to the background. Already, the Trump administration is virtually abandoning any pretense of a two-state solution. At the same time, even as the potential for a conflict with North Korea, with a likely nuclear dimension, is very much alive, another hotspot might spring up, with Saudi Arabia and Israel as partners against Iran. Now, Israel might be tempted to bomb and destroy Iranian nuclear sites.At home, even though Crown Prince Salman appears to have established control over all three Saudi security services, an abrupt upending of the old delicate balance of power among branches of the royal family is fraught with danger. Salman fancies himself as a modern ruler with a reform agenda of sorts, though there is no precise blueprint for this. Even moderate social reforms like some rights for women, like the right to drive a car, is likely to put him at odds with the clerical establishment. Since 1979 when Islamic militants occupied Mecca’s Grand Mosque and were beaten back in a bloody conflict, Saudi monarchy has ruled with a pact of sorts with the country’s clerical establishment to espouse and actively promote the Wahhabi version of Islam and to keep the kingdom under wraps from political, social and cultural changes. In return, the royal family had the support of the country’s clerical establishment.Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman might be sincere in wanting to make some modest changes across the spectrum of the Saudi society to reform and diversify the country’s economy, tone down its religious extremism and so on, but there is no institutional framework to even begin the process by antagonising a whole lot of established stake holders, even with support from President Trump. Amassing power in one branch of the royal family is unlikely to accomplish its goals in any sustainable way.The task is massive as Thomas L. Friedman pointed out in a recent New York Times column: “Some 70 percent of Saudi Arabia is under the age of 30, and roughly 25 percent of them are unemployed. In addition, 200,000 more are studying abroad, and about 35,000 of them — men and women — are coming home every year with degrees, looking for meaningful work, not to mention something fun to do other than going to the mosque or the mall.”Friedman adds, “The system desperately needs to create more jobs outside the oil sector, where Saudi income is no longer what it once was, and the government can’t keep eating its savings to buy stability.”As if this were not a huge challenge by itself, it is compounded with creating more problems in an already inflamed region. Good luck to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, if he can do all this, with or without support from President Donald Trump.The writer is a senior journalist and academic based in Sydney. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, December 1st 2017.