Amid mourning, a new generation enters line to Saudi throne

The Associated Press reports: Saudi Arabia’s newly enthroned King Salman moved quickly Friday to name a future successor to the crown in his oil-rich kingdom, a significant appointment that puts the kingdom’s future squarely in the hands of a new generation.

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s actions came as the Sunni-ruled kingdom mourned King Abdullah, who died early Friday at the age of 90 after nearly two decades in power.

He was buried Friday afternoon in an unmarked grave, his body shrouded in a simple beige cloth without a coffin. The austere, subdued burial was in line with Islamic tradition that all people — even kings — are equal in death before God.

A royal decree affirmed Crown Prince Muqrin, 69, as Salman’s immediate successor. After Muqrin, Salman named Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, as deputy crown prince, making him second-in-line to the throne. Mohammed is the first grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, to be named as a future heir.

King Salman promised in a nationally televised speech to continue the policies of his predecessors.

“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” Salman said.

For more than six decades, power has passed among the sons of King Abdul-Aziz, from brother to brother, since his death in 1953. But ranks of that generation, largely in their 70s and 80s, are thinning. [Continue reading…]

Middle East Eye adds: Salman is one of the “Sudairi Seven” – a powerful alliance of seven sons of King Abdelaziz named after their mother Hassa bint Ahmad al-Sudairi. Abdullah was not from the Sudairi seven and Salman’s immediate appointments appear to reassert the alliance’s power over the throne.

Mohammed bin Nayef is the son of a Sudairi, Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who died in 2012 and served as the country’s interior minister and crown prince.

Salman’s son – 34-year-old Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud – has been appointed defence minister and head of the royal court, according to the SPA official news agency. His appointment means Khalid al-Tuwaijri – a close advisor of the late King Abdullah and until Thursday officially head of the royal court – has been removed from his position.

The swift appointments appear to herald a shift in power within the famously secretive House of Saud, although King Salman was keen to stress continuity in his maiden speech as king. [Continue reading…]

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