There are always several top contenders around the world to earn the title of Time magazine’s Person of the Year. But it would appear from any objective view of the international arena this year one name, more than any other, deserves such a ranking.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Long before the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, there was every reason to place the Crown Prince on the magazine cover for the final year’s edition. The always-intriguing turf battles within the ruling Saudi family, the struggle for the heart and soul of Islam, the geo-political fight with Iran, the proxy wars and alliances through-out the region has long placed Salman at the center of the news world.
The Crown Prince had allowed many–including this blogger–to see hopeful signs that modernity could take place over time within Saudi Arabia. With that view also came the real possibility of modernity of the harsh brand of Islam which dominates the kingdom. Wahhabism has been a most detrimental force in the region, and its export has made for terrorism around the globe. The towering figure of Salman might have brought many changes over decades of his ruling. Much of that is now in doubt.
What happens following the heinous murder of Khashoggi makes for another chapter yet to be written in the kingdom. The central role that Saudi Arabia plays in international relations creates many hurdles, as nations based on law and order must now seek a path forward that does not undermine their basic concepts, while at the same time grasping the need for realpolitik.
Which all leads to the most important, exasperating, mysterious, and newsworthy person of the year.
Time magazine’s Person of the Year.