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Saudi Arabia’s Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz died. He has been Crown Prince and heir to the throne since his predecessor, Prince Sultan died in October 2011.

 

Nayef was also the country’s long-serving Minister of Interior, responsible for the state’s crackdown on political dissent. As the most senior supporter of the country’s conservative camp, he was vehemently opposed to what he perceived as the country’s fast-pace of liberalization, initiated by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

 

Nayef was believed to be 79, although other sources claim he may have been as old as 85.

 

June 16, 2012

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

The untimely death of Prince Nayef opens a vacuum in the succession line of the Saudi Royal Family. He was chosen as Crown Prince after the death of his brother, Sultan, by the family’s council, which was formed by King Abdullah to decide on succession. The next in line is believed to be Prince Salman, the Minister of Defense.

 

The family will now have to choose another Crown Prince, most likely will be Salman, who is at least 77 years old according to official sources. Salman is seen within the family as a conciliatory figure and will unlikely therefore be a source of family tensions. However, the key question that the family has to address is the second in line to the throne, after Salman. Sources close to the Royal Family have indicated that there are currently two camps: one calling for the introduction of a second generation prince, and another – more prominent one, that favours delaying the decision. The likelihood is that there will only be one appointment made in the next few days, that of the Crown Prince. The indicative question that remains is who will take the powerful cabinet post of Interior Minister. Although this post does not mean its holder is next in line to the throne, it positions its holder in a highly powerful position.

 

The death of Prince Nayef and the re-opening of the succession debate increases the internal political risk, until the cabinet reshuffle.