In a surprise move, Saudi Arabia’s king shakes up line of succession

The Washington Post reports: Saudi Arabia’s new monarch, King Salman, announced a major overhaul within the nation’s royal family Wednesday, replacing his anointed heir with his nephew and naming his own son as deputy in line to the throne.

In a series of early morning royal decrees read on national television, Salman promoted his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, from deputy crown prince to crown prince, meaning that Nayef will become king when Salman dies.

He named his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as deputy crown prince, putting him second in line to inherit the throne and thereby ensuring that the succession will pass through his own branch of the kingdom’s extensive royal family. Mohammed bin Salman’s exact age is not known, but he is believed to be about 30.

The decrees thrust a new, younger generation of Saudi princes into the line of succession, which could spell a more assertive Saudi foreign policy in the Middle East.

The move squeezes out the late King Abdullah’s choice of Prince Muqrin to succeed Salman. Abdullah had named Muqrin, his younger half-brother, as deputy crown prince two years ago, in what was widely seen at the time as an effort to secure the crown for an ally of his own sons.

The moves represented the clearest indicator yet of how the succession will likely proceed as the sons of the founder of the Saudi state, King Abdulaziz, age and die. [Continue reading…]

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