Succession Worries in Saudi Arabia
FRIDAY’S announcement by the royal court in Riyadh of the appointment of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz as the second deputy prime minister by King Abdullah, took many Saudi observers by surprise.
“I call on the royal court to clarify what is meant by this nomination and that it does not mean that he (Prince Naif) will become crown prince,” Prince Talal said in a faxed statement sent to Reuters.
“The latest nomination of the second deputy prime minister will give the impression that he will automatically become crown prince,” said Prince Talal.
Some Saudi analysts said that the Allegiance Council only had to give its consent to Prince Naif becoming crown prince when the succession actually takes place. For the time being, Prince Sultan is still the crown prince, and they noted that the king could appoint whomever he wanted, and as many people he wanted, to deputy prime minister positions.
“Prince Naif, believed to be 75, is perceived as one of the most conservative forces in the kingdom and an opponent of reforms that may reduce the clout of both the monarchy and the religious establishment in the kingdom, the world’s leading oil exporter,” reported Reuters.
When asked earlier this week what he thought of women becoming members of the Shoura Council, he said that he did not think it was necessary. He also said that elections for the council were not needed.