Trump may have lost his risky bet on Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman

Prior to the crown prince’s rise, successive administrations had forged close ties to Mohammed bin Nayef, a nephew of the king who won the trust of U.S. intelligence agencies for his cooperation on counterterrorism efforts during his time as minister of interior. He had been seen as the heir to the throne, until Mohammed bin Salman won favor with the king, his father, and pushed Mohammed bin Nayef aside last year.

“MBN did not go willingly. MBS reportedly cleared his removal with Washington, whether that was the White House or CIA. He wanted to make sure there were no repercussions for the relationship,” Brennan told NBC News…

Other former officials said the demotion of Mohammed bin Nayef was an ominous sign. “Letting Mohammed bin Salman push out Mohammed bin Nayef is the original sin of this relationship,” said Ali Soufan, a former FBI official who has written extensively about counterterrorism in the Middle East. “Mohammed bin Nayef was the most important counterterrorism official in the Middle East [and] had worked with the U.S. for decades.”