FlyTitle: Muhammad bin Salman

Though not yet king, Muhammad bin Salman has a firm grip on the kingdom

尽管还不是国王,穆罕默德·本·萨勒曼牢牢掌控着沙特王国【《MBS:穆罕默德·本·萨勒曼的掌权之路》书评】

经济学人双语版-王子掌权 The prince

TO MARK THE end of its decades-old ban on cinemas, the government of Saudi Arabia held a fancy opening for the first commercial one in Riyadh. Ministers, influencers and at least one royal were invited to watch the Marvel superhero film “Black Panther”. In it a young prince called T’Challa finds himself suddenly in charge of Wakanda, an isolated kingdom rich in a precious natural resource. But he must fight off a challenge to the throne from a ruthless relative called Erik Killmonger. In the end T’Challa prevails and opens up Wakanda to the world.

为庆贺长达几十年的电影院禁令终止,沙特阿拉伯政府为利雅得首家商业影院举行了盛大的开幕仪式。各路部长、有影响力的人物和至少一名皇室成员受邀观看了漫威超级英雄电影《黑豹》。在影片中,年轻的王子特查拉突然接掌了瓦坎达这个富含某种珍稀自然资源的与世隔绝的王国,但他必须击退凶残的亲戚艾瑞克·克尔芒戈对王位的挑战。最终,特查拉获胜,并向世界开放了瓦坎达。

Sound a little familiar? The man who ended the cinema ban, Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, has a bit of T’Challa in him. The young crown prince, often known as MBS, is trying to open up his isolated, oil-rich kingdom. Tourists and foreign investors are now welcomed as part of a drive to diversify the economy. Conservative clerics have been muzzled and the vice police curbed, as the Saudis tone down their austere brand of Islam. Archaic restrictions, such as the ban on cinemas and another on women drivers, have been lifted. But, as Ben Hubbard intimates in his book “MBS”, Prince Muhammad arguably has a lot of Erik Killmonger in him, too.

听起来有点熟悉?解除电影院禁令的人、沙特事实上的统治者穆罕默德·本·萨勒曼身上有一点特查拉的影子。这位通常被人叫做MBS的年轻王储正试图打开他那与世隔绝、盛产石油的王国。作为实现经济多元化的举措之一,沙特现在欢迎游客和外国投资者的到来。随着沙特人设法缓和严厉的伊斯兰教教规,它捂住了保守的神职人员的嘴,限制了风化警队的权力。电影院禁令和妇女驾车禁令等陈旧的限制已经被取消。但正如本·哈伯德在《MBS》一书中暗示的,穆罕默德王子身上可以说也有很多艾瑞克·克尔芒戈的影子。

The prince is the sixth son of the 25th son of the founding king of Saudi Arabia—so he was not exactly predestined to rule. Moreover, he was not an especially impressive young man; he never studied abroad, ran a company or served in the army. Abdullah, the previous king, saw him as “an upstart whose experience fell far short of his ambitions”, the author writes. The critique still feels apt. Yet Prince Muhammad was the apple of his father Salman’s eye—and a series of deaths in the family pushed Salman all the way up the royal ladder.

这位王子是沙特建国君主第25个儿子的第六个儿子——所以他并非注定要统治王国。此外,他不是一个特别能给人以深刻印象的年轻人。他从未在国外学习、经营公司或在军队服役过。哈伯德写道,前任国王阿卜杜拉认为他是“一个暴发户,他的经历远远撑不起他的野心”。这一评论听来仍很恰当。然而,穆罕默德王子是他父亲萨勒曼的掌上明珠,而家族中一连串的死亡将萨勒曼推上了皇家阶梯的顶点。

When Salman became king in 2015 he put his son in charge of the economy and defence, but there were still other royals between Prince Muhammad and the throne. That didn’t last long. King Salman, who is now fading, made him deputy crown prince that April. Two years later Prince Muhammad pushed aside his older cousin, Muhammad bin Nayef, to become crown prince. The royal court claimed the move was consensual. Reportedly, however, Muhammad bin Nayef was lured to a palace and denied medicine until he abdicated. He was under house arrest until early March—when, according to Mr Hubbard, who reports for the New York Times, he was taken into custody by security officers. (Senior Saudi officials had denied Muhammad bin Nayef was under house arrest; one described the claim as “not true at all”.)

如今日渐衰老的萨勒曼在2015年成为国王时,让这个儿子负责经济和国防,但在穆罕默德王子和王位之间还隔着其他皇室成员。这种局面没持续多久。当年4月萨勒曼将他任命为副王储。两年后,他挤掉了堂兄穆罕默德·本·纳耶夫成为王储。皇家法院声称此举经过了双方同意。然而,据报道称,穆罕默德·本·纳耶夫是被诱骗至一座宫殿,且不准其服药,直到他退位。他被软禁直至3月初,据哈伯德(他为《纽约时报》撰写报道)称他被安全官员拘捕。(沙特高级官员否认穆罕默德·本·纳耶夫被软禁,其中一人称这种说法“完全不符合事实”。)

For a while Saudi-watchers in the West were entranced by the bold and ambitious prince. But recently his rash and ruthless side has been getting more attention. Saudi Arabia’s intervention in neighbouring Yemen, a brainchild of Prince Muhammad’s, has created a humanitarian disaster. His decision to lock up hundreds of Saudi tycoons in a luxury hotel until they handed over chunks of their fortunes alienated outside investors. He in effect kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon in 2017, then started a pointless feud with Canada. The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, thinks the prince hacked his phone (though MBS denies it). World leaders are confounded by all this. “Are his dangerous acts the youthful faults of an inexperienced ruler? Or do they spring from deep in his character and serve as harbingers of things to come?” asks Mr Hubbard.

西方的沙特观察人士一度被这位大胆而野心勃勃的王子迷住。但近年他鲁莽而无情的一面越来越受到关注。沙特对邻国也门的干预——这是穆罕默德王子的主意——已经酿成了一场人道主义灾难。他把数百名沙特大亨关在一家豪华酒店,直到他们交出大部分财富,结果导致外部投资者离他而去。2017年,他在事实上绑架了黎巴嫩总理,然后又开始与加拿大毫无意义地争斗不休。世界首富杰夫·贝佐斯认为这位王子入侵了他的手机(但MBS否认了)。这一切令各国领导人困惑不已。“他的种种危险行为只是一个没有经验的统治者因年轻而犯下的错误吗?还是说它们源自他的性格深处,预示了将会发生的事?”哈伯德问道。

The book ends with the grisly tale of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist who was killed and dismembered inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul two years ago. Prince Muhammad denies ordering the murder. Few observers believe him; after all, Saudi dissidents are routinely jailed and tortured. To prevent such incidents from happening again the prince set up a committee to reform the intelligence service. Naturally, he put himself in charge of it. ■

这本书以贾马尔·卡舒吉的恐怖遭遇结尾。他是一名专栏作家,两年前在沙特驻伊斯坦布尔领事馆被杀害和肢解。穆罕默德王子否认是自己下令谋杀他。几乎没有观察人士相信他,毕竟沙特的异见分子经常被监禁和折磨。为防止此类事件再次发生,这位王子成立了一个委员会来改革情报部门——负责人自然是他本人。