Saudi king upends royal succession, names son as 1st heir

The newest crown prince has amassed a number of responsibilities and powers, and while he's known for his economic and social ideas to modernize the kingdom, he also served as the Saudi defense minister during the kingdom's military intervention in Yemen.

A senior Saudi official said the decision was taken due to what he called special circumstances presented to the members of the Allegiance Council.

Mohammed bin Salman was born on 31 August 1985, the eldest son of then-Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud's third wife, Fahdah bint Falah bin Sultan.

In according to Royal order released by the Saudi Press Agency, the former Crown Prince was also relieved from his post as interior minister, while Prince Salman was appointed also as deputy prime minister and kept his previous post as defense minister.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also given high profile interviews with global, regional and local media outlets and has discussed the challenges that he feels Saudi Arabia must confront with a degree of openness hitherto unseen in kingdom.

The change gives Prince Mohammed greater authority to pursue his plan to reduce the kingdom's reliance on oil, which includes selling a stake in oil giant Saudi Aramco and putting other assets under the control of a sovereign wealth fund he also heads. Earlier the King made new appointments in the Prosecutor-General's Office.

The prince replaces Mohammed bin Nayef, his cousin, who was also removed from his post as interior minister, where he oversaw domestic security and the kingdom's counter-terrorism policy.

However, that vote of support appears to have been from a past gathering of the council two years ago when Mohammed bin Salman was named second-in-line to the throne, and Mohammed bin Nayef was named the king's successor.

Mohammed Bin Salman says he sees no possibility of dialogue with Iran, Saudi Arabia's rival in a regional contest for power.

King Salman, who is 81, is reportedly in declining health and there was a power struggle between the two princes.

In January 2015, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz died and Salman acceded to the throne at the age of 79.

Iran and Saudi Arabia's rivalry has played out in proxy wars across the region.

Bin Salman and Trump during the latter's visit to Saudi Arabia.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef was the kingdom's security chief for many years and was known for his strong stance against jihadist militants.

While bin Salman's promotion and bin Nayef's ouster were reportedly widely expected within royal circles, the timing is surprising.

  • Carolyn Briggs