Friday, October 30, 2015
Big trouble brewing in Saudi Arabian Royal clan?
Big trouble brewing in Saudi Arabian Royal clan? (FR24).
A power struggle is emerging between Saudi Arabia's two most powerful princes, analysts and diplomats say, as the secretive kingdom confronts some of its biggest challenges in years.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the king's 56-year-old nephew, is first in line to the throne but Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, believed to be about 30, is Salman's son and a rising power.
Mohammed bin Nayef is interior minister while Mohammed bin Salman runs the defence ministry, and their growing rivalry is making itself felt, experts say.
In the months since, the younger Mohammed bin Salman has moved to shore up his power, analysts say.
"A lot of people see this as a kind of a coup... that it's one faction taking power for itself," says Stephane Lacroix, a specialist in Saudi Arabia at Sciences Po university in Paris.
Moqren's case shows that "this position of deputy crown prince is a bit precarious," and helps explain why Mohammed bin Salman has been reinforcing his position, a Western diplomat says.
In addition to being defence minister, Mohammed bin Salman heads the kingdom's main economic coordinating council as well as a body overseeing Saudi Aramco, the state oil company in the world's biggest petroleum exporter.
"Mohammed bin Salman is clearly amassing extraordinary power and influence very quickly. This is bound to unsettle his rivals," Wehrey says.
The deputy crown prince "has this need to structure his position to become, at the moment his father dies, irreplaceable" because he has no assurances of how Mohammed bin Nayef, as king, would treat him, another foreign diplomat says.
Mohammed bin Salman, who has a close relationship with his father, has been "acting as if he was the heir apparent, so this obviously creates tensions," Lacroix says.
But there has not been a broader move against the interior minister, who is widely respected abroad for having led Saudi efforts against Al-Qaeda and other jihadists.
"I think they'd be shooting themselves in the foot if they cut Mohammed bin Nayef out," the Western diplomat says.
"He's well-respected. He's the one guy in the West who is trusted, particularly on counter-terrorism."
The crown prince has the loyalty of interior ministry forces, and most members of the royal family would support his ultimate rise to the throne as "something normal," the other diplomat says.
For now, analysts and diplomats say, the rivalry appears contained and there is little chance that the House of Saud will implode.
"People have been writing off the al-Saud for a long time for various reasons," the Western diplomat says. "They're still here... still an island of stability in the Middle East." Hmmm....The Saudis 'Island of peace and stability' LOL. Read the full story here.