Four things that changed in Saudi during King Salman's first year

Published January 14th, 2016 - 03:25 GMT
The King's year so far has been riddled with challenges across the region. (AFP/File)
The King's year so far has been riddled with challenges across the region. (AFP/File)

Wednesday marked the year anniversary of Saudi King Salman's rule, sparking a slew of articles lauding both achievements and failures of the kingdom's new leadership. 

Salman took up leadership for his ailing brother King Abdullah last January, just before his death on January 23, 2014. Since then, we've seen the onset of a massive bombing campaign against a Houthi insurgency in Yemen, a shifting economy and a lot more.

Here's four things we've seen change in the last year in Saudi Arabia. 

1. Yemen: In March, Saudi Arabia announced the formation of an airstrike coalition in the war-torn country amid an ongoing insurgency against Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Just a few months into Salman's leadership, the move back then was hailed by Arab partner states as a powerful step against the Yemeni Shia group, thought to be backed by Iran. But as it drags on today, the majority of Yemen in shambles. Almost one year of the campaign, infrastructure has been destroyed, at least 2,500 have died and Saudi faces increasing scrutiny over the move. 

2. Female voters and candidates: For the first time in its history, women were both elected to office and present at the polls in the conservative during the December election. The move was initiated by Salman's predesessor King Abdallah following debate after the last election in September 2011. At the end of year the kingdom saw that come to fruition, with at least four women elected to office. 

3. A seeping royal revolt: In October, one Saudi dissident prince told media eight of 12 surviving sons of Saudi Arabia's founding monarch supported a move to oust Salman from his leadership role. Citing woes over a sagging economy, the dragging war in Yemen, Salman's questionable mental capacities and the Hajj disaster, a potential coup aimed to replace 79-year-old Salman with his younger brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, 73. Though that news has since quieted, the most prominent questions about the state of Saudi's affairs are still in full swing.

4. Iran: Relations with Saudi's fellow Middle Eastern power house are more volatile than ever following controversy sparked by the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Riyadh cut diplomatic relations after the Saudi embassy was burned down during a protest in Tehran and a host of regional players followed suit. Now, the US, Russia and China have expressed worry over worsening relations, and things don't appear to be improving. 

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