Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nayef and Talal

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah recently appointed his half brother Prince Nayef as Second Deputy Prime Minister. Another half brother, Prince Talal, wants to ensure this doesn't mean Nayef is now second in line for the throne:
"The statement, by Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, came after the Saudi royal court announced on Friday the appointment of Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz as second deputy prime minister, a promotion that means he will run the kingdom when the monarch and crown prince are away...

"'I call on the royal court to clarify what is meant by this nomination and that it does not mean that he [Prince Nayef] will become crown prince,' Prince Talal said in a faxed statement sent to Reuters...

"Prince Talal said the appointment of Prince Nayef as crown prince should be decided by the Allegiance Council, made up of the most prominent members of the Al Saud family who would vote to appoint future crown princes."

What are some points here? Both Nayef and Prince Sultan, the current heir, are members of the "Sudayri Six," a powerful group of full brothers within the royal family. King Abdullah may be reassuring them about their succession prospects while he pursues his own agenda, and they may be inclined to use the next succession and the Allegiance Council to promote the interests of their own sons in the next generation. If memory serves, Prince Talal led a left-wing nationalist faction back in the 1950's and 1960's, is substantially younger than the Sudayri princes, and has traditionally formed part of a block of younger sons of King 'Abd al-Aziz Ibn Said. If that is the case, his interest in the current succession battle is obvious.



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