Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz appointed Prince Salman, the Defense Minister as Crown Prince, after the death of Prince Nayef, who was also Interior Minister. Prince Ahmad, a younger brother of the King was appointed Interior Minister. He was previously deputy Interior Minister.
Salman is the third Saudi Crown Prince since the death of Crown Prince Sultan in October, and his successor Crown Prince Nayef.
There was no mention of consulting the Allegiance Council in making the appointments.
June 19, 2012
Analysis and Forecast: Decreasing Risk
The announcement that Prince Salman was largely expected (including by Political Capital). However, the choice of Prince Ahmad as Interior Minister is significant, though not surprising. What is mostly significant, however, is the speed of the announcement. It demonstrates two things:
- The keenness of King Abdullah to move ahead with dealing with succession speedily. The Allegiance Council was largely absent from the choice of both the Crown Prince and Interior Minister. The justification was that the Council was created by Abdullah to deal with choosing the King only. The Council, however, was involved in the choosing of Sultan and Nayef as Crown Princes, and that resulted in internal family feuds (culminated by the resignation of Prince Talal from the Council). Abdullah was therefore keen to choose the second and potentially - third in line to the throne, to avoid further family clashes;
- That the coming of second generation princes into the succession line is not yet due. Prince Ahmad is in his early 70's and there are still several years before the second generation is brought in.
In terms of overall risk, the speed of choosing Salman and Ahmad reduces the immediate risk resulting from the death of Nayef. However, the fact that the Allegiance Council was largely ignored reduces the confidence of outsiders about the potential of a smooth transition into the second generation when the time comes. Whilst it is believed that the Al Saud ruling family will sort out the succession, the lack of communications and transparency both with Saudis and the international community continues to raise questions about the ability of the Saudi regime to deal with the second generation succession. The long-term risk resulting from lack of credibility, remains high.