Saudi King Deposes Crown Prince And Names A New Heir, Age 31

Saudi King Salman named his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, next in line to take over the oil-rich kingdom with a royal decree on Wednesday in a dramatic upending of the royal succession.

Even as deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman has been responsible for running Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, dictating an energy policy with global implications and spearheading plans for the kingdom to build an economic future after oil.

The newly appointed Crown Prince replaces Mohammed Bin Nayef, who held the position of Heir until today's reshuffle.

The Saudi Arabia's Allegiance Council voted 31 to 34 in favor of Mohammed Bin Salman, according to the Saudi channel Al Arabiya.

The Allegiance Council is a body made up of the sons and prominent grandsons of the late King Abdul-Aziz, the founder of the Saudi state.

The oil markets have delivered grim news for Saudi's oil-dependent economy since King Salman came to power and his young son began running Saudi oil policy.

In a series of royal decrees issued Wednesday and carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the monarch stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was first in line to the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his post as the country's powerful interior minister overseeing security. Iran's state TV has called the appointment a "soft coup in Saudi Arabia".

Lebanese prime minister Saad Al Hariri tweeted: "I contacted Prince Mohammed bin Salman and congratulated him for his new appointment and wished him all the best".

The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms bordering Saudi Arabia, has been a major point of Saudi investment, especially in Dubai. On Wednesday, he met Mohammed bin Salman and told him: "I will rest now and God help you". Chief among them was Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

"The shake-up in the Saudi line of succession comes as the kingdom and other Gulf Arab states continue a feud with Qatar that has seen borders close and trade shipments halted", NPR's Peter Kenyon reports for our Newscast unit.

Saudi Arabia says the three were Revolutionary Guard members.

Mohammed bin Nayef was once a towering figure credited with crushing al-Qaida's cells in Saudi Arabia.

The warm ties forged between Riyadh and Washington under the Trump administration may have helped accelerate Mohammed bin Salman's ascension as crown prince. He worked closely with Washington after the September 11 attacks, helping to share intelligence to thwart more attacks.

The kingdom was the first stop on Trump's maiden overseas trip as president, making him the first USA president to make a Muslim country the destination of his first official trip.

The monarch has already reshaped the Saudi role in the region.

Despite his ambitions, the prince has faced criticism for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has failed to dislodge Iranian-allied rebels known as Houthis from the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and has had devastating effects on the impoverished country.

Regionally, she added, the crown prince's rise nearly certainly means the continuation of "a more assertive Saudi policy overseas and a strong alliance with the UAE in pursuing those policies", towards their shared goals of rolling back Iranian influence and stronger action against independent political Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood - a longtime target of the Emirati governnment. Iran's intelligence has accused both the USA and Saudi Arabia of "involvement".

  • Leroy Wright