Monday, June 3, 2013

Saudia: "There is smoke and dust on the horizon!"

"... The House of Saud is far from united itself. The line of succession which passed along the 20 surviving sons of King Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, five of whom became king, is rapidly running out of road, as ageing heirs drop off their gilded perch before they can inherit the crown. The next in line, Crown Prince Salman, 77 this year, stood in for King Abdullah at the last meeting of the Gulf Co-operation Council, but his contribution was limited. He is thought to be suffering from dementia. But this is unlikely to mean that the throne passes to the youngest of Abdul Aziz's sons, Prince Muqrin, as the succession is adjudicated on other opaque grounds by a body known as the Allegiance Council. Two of Muqrin's nephews, of whom Miteb is one, and Muhammed bin Nayef, the current interior minister, is another, are set to fight for the prize. No palace intrigue is complete without a power behind the throne, an uncrowned prince, a Cardinal Richelieu. That role is played by Khalid al-Tuwaijri, who, as president of the royal court and private secretary of the custodian of the two holy mosques, is the king's gatekeeper. He brought Prince Bandar back after a long period of absence to become the powerful chief of the Saudi General Intelligence. The Tuwaijri-Bandar axis has been key, along with United Arab Emirates' Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in organising against the Muslim Brotherhood-led governments in the region.This axis, however, is now facing opposition from other members of the Saudi royal family. Mohammed bin Nayef might emerge as an important counterweight. It is essential that the voice of reform is heeded in the transition that is about to take place. There is still an opportunity to change peacefully. Ignore it, and what happened elsewhere could well happen here too..."

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