The Washington Post reports: When Saudi Arabia’s elderly king took the unusual step of naming a deputy heir, the move initially was welcomed as a sign of continuity in a country that soon will confront major questions over the future of its leadership.
But in subsequent weeks, the announcement has stirred a rare outburst of dissent, revealing previously unacknowledged strains within the royal family and casting into doubt prospects for a smooth transition from King Abdullah’s rule.
The king’s youngest brother, Muqrin, who was named deputy crown prince on the eve of President Obama’s visit in March, appears to be popular among ordinary people, who say he is not corrupt. He also is well-regarded by foreign diplomats, who describe him as likable and smart.
But behind closed doors, royal tongues have been wagging about the manner in which Muqrin was chosen, the validity of his newly created title and his pedigree as the son of a Yemeni concubine who was never formally married to his father.
“He is not a real prince; his mother was a slave and there are other brothers who are more competent,” said a former Saudi official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because criticizing the royal family is imprudent. “Nobody believes Muqrin can become king.” [Continue reading…]