Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Had Been Laying Low. That's Over. | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Had Been Laying Low. That's Over.

First he ordered the detention of at least four senior members of his own royal family. The next day he plunged Saudi Arabia into a price war with Russia that sent energy and stock markets around the world into free fall.

For a while, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia had appeared to be living down his reputation for dangerous aggression.

Perhaps chastened by the blowback over his connection with the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the 34-year-old crown prince had kept a low profile for more than a year.

Now his new power plays are reviving debates in Western capitals about whether he is too rash to trust as a partner. His sudden, steep cut to the price of oil has rocked a global economy already at risk of falling into recession, threatened to burn through Saudi Arabia’s cash reserves and undermined his grandiose promises of new investments to lessen the kingdom’s dependence on oil.

“It is mutually assured destruction for any oil exporting economy, certainly including Saudi Arabia and Russia and probably the United States as well,” said Greg Brew, a scholar of the region and a fellow at Southern Methodist University.

“But this is typical MBS, right?” he added, referring to the crown prince by his initials. “He is a risk taker, and he is prone to impulsive decisions.

The detention of the senior royals, which began to leak out on Friday, has not been acknowledged or explained by the Saudi officials.

Two of the detained princes — Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of the crown prince’s aging father, King Salman, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the former crown prince and interior minister — had once been seen as possible rivals for power.