Date :Sunday, October 21st, 2018 | Time : 14:58 |ID: 74955 | Print

The ruling Saudi family is seeking to replace crown prince Mohammed bin Salman

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en.shafaqna THE RULING SAUDI FAMILY IS SEEKING TO REPLACE CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN

SHAFAQNA- The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, unleashes an international crisis for Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Finally , After 18 days in which Saudi Arabia adamantly denied that any harm had come to Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul, it committed a startling about-face. Not only did Riyadh admit that Khashoggi came to a violent end, it pinned the blame on some of the closest aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

If Jamal Khashoggi’s murder can be traced directly to the Saudi crown prince, it is time for a royal reshuffle. The major French daily Le Figaro published a bombshell story which reports the Saudi royal family is actively considering a replacement to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Now, Saudi Arabia is facing its biggest diplomatic crisis with the west since the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers – and it is one almost certainly made by royal hands.

Saudi Arabia has admitted journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after visiting the country’s consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, is dead. Riyadh claimed that he was killed in a “fist-fight” with Saudi officials.

Earlier, the kingdom appears to be making an effort to absolve bin Salman of the action against Khashoggi, but in the last few days, Riyadh is preparing to say Mr Khashoggi was killed by mistake during an interrogation. Now, a follow-up statement, released by the Saudi Arabian ministry of foreign affairs, claimed that discussions between Khashoggi and Saudi officials at the consulate “did not go as required and escalated negatively which led to a fight between them … and led to his death”.

The Saudi royal family is actively considering a replacement

The Saudi royal family is actively considering a replacement to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Le Figaro report’s unnamed diplomatic source says the Allegiance Council, which is historically the body responsible for approving the order of succession to the throne, is currently meeting in secret:

For several days, the Allegiance Council for the ruling Saudi family is meeting in the utmost discretion, says a diplomatic source to Le Figaro in Paris. The information has been confirmed by a Saudi Arabian contacted in Riyadh. Composed of a delegate representing each of the clans — at least seven — of the royal family, this body, responsible for inheritance problems, examines the situation created by the disappearance, still unresolved, more than a fortnight ago, of the journalist dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Several eligible candidates to replace

There are several eligible candidates to replace the disastrous Prince Mohammed. Prince Ahmad, a brother of King Salman, who has been sidelined for a long time after a short career as deputy minister of interior, may be a good choice. He is a marginal figure and neither powerful nor aggressive. Given the resentment against the iron fist of M.B.S. and his willingness to humiliate senior members of the royal family, Prince Ahmad’s less adversarial style might help Saudi Arabia to re-establish the shattered royal consensus. Apart from him, the more prominent contenders could be King Salman’s nephews, former Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who was removed and humiliated over a year ago, and Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, who ran the Saudi Arabian National Guard before he was detained and released in 2017. He Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was loved by the Western governments for his campaign against Al Qaeda since 2003 and was offered the George Tenet medal by the C.I.A. weeks before he was dismissed as crown prince in 2015. The ruling family is seeking to replace the 33-year old MbS with his much less ambitious and more predictable brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman.

The Le Figaro report further cited a Saudi source who explained the transition wouldn’t necessarily be immediate. Khalid, who’s even younger than MbS at 28, is said to be popular both at home and abroad, and is generally seen as someone who can improve the kingdom’s image in the West. If the ruling family is pushing to replace MbS, it’s likely to be announced fast (or at least “leaks” of the news will continue) in order to relieve the continued pressure on Riyadh.

In that light, removing bin Salman from power would depend on whether the Saudi royal family can form a coalition to determine MbS is a threat to Saudi Arabia’s strategic interests and diplomatic relationships.

Replacing M.B.S. and moving toward a constitutional monarchy might seem like wishful thinking at the moment, but these two steps might save Saudi Arabia from more serious upheaval and possible implosion from within in the future.

Replaced Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince 16 months ago

The 33-year-old Mohammed bin Salman has gotten away with quite a lot since his elevation just 16 months ago to the role of heir-apparent to the throne.

He replaced Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince last year and he is set to become the first grandson of the kingdom’s founder, Abdulaziz Al Saud, to become king, surpassing many of his uncles and more senior cousins who are still alive.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is the king in everything but name. Though his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, is the nominal premiere of the Persian Gulf state, it is his eldest son who pulls the strings and turns the wheels. The Crown Prince controls the defense ministry, the central bank, the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, the state-run oil conglomerate Saudi Aramco, and a bulging sovereign wealth fund.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman has vowed to return Saudi Arabia to “moderate Islam”, asking for support from the global community to help transform the hardline, ultra-conservative kingdom into a more liberal, equal and open society

Already, MBS has lost some key allies or supporters who should be central to his aims.

The disappearance of Khashoggi effect on transformative plan for the future

The Prince’s marquee policy is his transformative plan for the future, dubbed Vision 2030, which hopes to attract significant foreign investment.

His vaunted Davos in the Desert conference this month was supposed to play a key role in launching his Vision 2030 development plan.

But in the days since the disappearance of Khashoggi and continued Saudi foot-dragging in uncovering the source and methods of the attack, the withdrawal of major sponsors and leading executives have left the entire enterprise in limbo.

A series of disruptive policies

In fact, since rising to power, the young prince has pursued a series of disruptive policies that have rocked the kingdom and the wider region.

Khashoggi’s alleged murder is the latest in a series of controversies that have involved Saudi Arabia while bin Salman has held influential positions in the country.

As Saudi defence minister in 2015, MBS played a key role in starting the Saudi-led war in Yemen. As the conflict that has killed more than 10,000 drags on, the crown prince prince has shown no signs of working to end it.

In November of last year, bin Salman jailed dozens of journalists, businessmen, Islamic scholars and members of the royal family.

But most bewildering, he reportedly also detained Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri for more than two weeks after forcing him to resign. Both Riyadh and Hariri deny that he was held against his will, but French President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed that Paris intervened to free the prime minister.

Saudi Arabia is accused of forcing his hand to make a stand against the influence of Iran and its ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

Bin Salman’s promotion – to become heir to the throne – in June last year coincided with a Riyadh diplomatic offensive against Qatar. Saudi Arabia then instituted a blockade, aided by several of its allies, against the tiny Gulf peninsula.

In the aftermath of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman finds himself in the hot seat.

Prince Mohammed, who’s denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, still has his defenders -– notably Donald Trump.

 

Read more from shafaqna:
Jamal Khashoggi case: New evidence suggest suspects had ties to Saudi government

Western Media companies, executives pull out of Saudis’ business conference over disappearance of journalist
Al-Monitor: Saudi stability at lowest level in 50 years

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