King Salmane ben Abdelaziz Al Saoud (81 years old) has removed from office 57 year old Emir Mohammed ben Nayef Al Saoud. The latter was the Crown Prince, Vice-Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs, all at the same time.
De facto, the King’s son, Prince Mohammed ben Salmane Al Saoud (31 years), will become the new Crown Prince.
Mohammed ben Nayef Al Saoud was considered as the US’s man. He has been trained first in Oregon, then later by the FBI and Scotland Yard. He obtained results in struggles against Al-Qaeda dissidents. With his removal, the hopes of the Nayef branch coming to the throne have come to an end.
Mohammed ben Salmane does not have an academic training. At the very most, he is the holder of a baccalaureate awarded by a local school, and we do not know if you actually need to study to obtain this qualification. He made his political debut as the assistant to his father, first the Governor of Riyadh and then the Minister of Defense. When Salmane becomes king in 2015, Mohammed succeeded his father as the Minister of Defense and engaged his country’s troops in the disastrous conflict in Yemen. Having royal power at his disposition, he launched a vast project for economic reform (Vision 2030), which ushered in the privatization of Aramco (the country’s only source of revenue) and his country’s development beyond the oil sector. He is particularly well known for his jet-set life-style and for buying a yacht, Serene, for half a billion euro.
It seems that King Salmane should shortly abdicate, leaving his son in charge. Thus the difficult question of succession is provisionally settled, in a country where up until now was governed by a rule requiring the oldest son of the dynasty’s founder to accede to power. Thus the current king, King Salmane, is the 25th of Abdelaziz ben Abderrahmane Al Saoud’s 53 sons.
At King Abdallah’s death (January 2015), his half brother, Prince Moukrine ben Abdelaziz Al Saoud, had been appointed Crown Prince. But three months later (April 2015), he had been rudely cut out of the order of succession, something quite unprecedented. He was replaced by Prince Mohammed ben Nayef, who in turn has just been removed from the picture.
As a consolation prize, the Nayefs secured that a son-in-law of Prince Mohammed ben Nayef replaces him at the Ministry of Home Affairs. It would be a son-in-law and not a son, because Prince Mohammed ben Nayef did not have male progeny.
The next king, Mohammed, could rule for about fifty years. But were he to die, then his eldest son, also a minor, would succeed him.
Washington had approved the chosen solution to the issue of succession. This solution had been adopted by 31 of 34 members of the allegiance council (the Family Council). It skips two generations. Henceforth, Mohammad ben Salmane is placing young people at the head of different administrations of the country, a country where the average age of the population is 27 years.