A royal decree published by the Saudi Press Agency has announced changes in the royal establishment with prince Mohammed bin Nayef being relieved from his position and replaced by King Salman’s young son Prince Mohammed bin Salman who become the new heir to the throne.
No explanations were given as to the reasons behind King Salman’s decision to choose his son to replace his nephew. The royal decree stated that 31 of the 34 members of the Saudi Allegiance Council endorsed Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Nayef could be remembered for stamping down an al Qaeda campaign of bombings from 2003 to 2006 as the kingdom’s counter-terrorism chief.
Before his appointment as the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman was serving as the deputy crown prince and was overseeing a wide range of portfolios amongst which are the defense ministry, war in neighboring Yemen, the kingdom’s energy policy and the economic reforms to reduce dependency on oil.
The decision has been described by many analysts as a surprising move, although rumors about a power struggle between King Salman and Prince Nayef had surfaced.
The suspicion seems to be hardened by amendment in the royal order which stated that “rule passes to the sons of the founding King, Abd al-Aziz Bin Abd al-Rahman al-Faysal Al Saud, and to their children’s children. The most upright among them is to receive allegiance in accordance with the principles of the Holy Quran and the Tradition of the Venerable Prophet.”
King Salman has called for a public pledging of loyalty to the newly appointed 31 year old crown prince in Mecca on Wednesday.
Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, nicknamed ‘Mr. Everything’, is seen as symbolizing the hopes of Saudi youths. More than half the population is under 25.