Saudi Arabia’s real-life game of thrones has taken a dramatic turn with the surprise designation of Mohammed bin Nayef, its formidable interior minister and ‘counter-terrorism’ chief, as the crown prince and heir to the kingdom, according to The Guardian.
In an article, the British paper pointed out that despite hopes of a new beginning following King Salman’s accession in January, this latest shakeup, announced on Wednesday, is as much about retrenchment as reform as Riyadh’s royals confront potentially existential challenges.
“The promotion of the king’s son, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, 35, to the position of deputy crown prince – or second-in-line to the throne – looks in part like a reward for his recent work as defense minister overseeing the Saudi-led coalition’s controversial military campaign against Yemen. Both Mohammed and Bin Nayef, the king’s nephew, are grandsons of the kingdom’s founder monarch, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud.”
The paper considered that the replacement of the veteran foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, 75, by a younger non-royal, Adel al-Jubeir, who is currently the Saudi ambassador to the US and a long-time Washington insider, strengthens the sense of generational change and that by dismissing his half-brother and Abdulaziz’s youngest son, Prince Muqrin, 69, as crown prince, Salman has performed the equivalent, in British terms, of defenestrating Prince Charles and installing Prince William as the Prince of Wales.
The changes mark the first time that power has passed beyond the control the numerous sons of Abdulaziz, who died in 1953, the British newspaper mentioned.
“Well regarded internationally as a pragmatic, professional politician, Bin Nayef is seen by the US administration and other western governments as a reliable ally.”