(Ross May/Washington Post Photo Illustration)
A few months ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seemed the toast of every major Western capital. MBS — the ubiquitous shorthand for the ambitious 32-year-old royal — had embarked on an extensive global tour, calling on politicians, business elites and celebrities as part of a broader push to sell his vision of reforms for the oil-rich kingdom. At a March meeting with reporters and editors of The Washington Post, he said he wanted to pioneer an economic transformation that would make the Middle East “the next Europe.” His message brimmed with liberal optimism and prompted rosy columns from leading American commentators. But an explosive diplomatic spat this week shows how fragile the crown prince’s narrative may be. On Monday, Riyadh announced it would suspend trade with Canada and ordered the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador. It also withdrew its own envoy in Ottawa.