Two Down and One to Go - Prince Salman will be the last of Sudairi Seven!


Two Down and One to Go - Prince Salman will be the last of Sudairi Seven!
by Iqbal Latif

Prince Sultan and Prince Nayef two designated succesors of King Abdullah are dead, two down one to go, Prince Salman will now seek the steadiness in Saudi Transitional Period! He is the son of King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia who born in1876 and died on 9 November 1953. On the night of 15 January 1902, he led 40 men raiding from Kuwait over the walls of the city on tilted palm trees and took the city. The governor of the city, Ajlan, was killed in front of the gate to his own fortress. The Saudi recapture of the city marked the beginning of the Third Saudi State.

This is old dynastic stuff still ruling Saudia today. When father of King Abdullah was born Queen Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1st May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India. His youngest son Prince Muqrin born 1945 follows Prince Salman in the run to the succession. King Abdul Aziz sons could possibly rule for next 25-30 years if Muqrin lives the age of King Abdullah.

This is a very susceptible moment for the House of Al Saud's. Prince Salman is well regarded as sharp and hard-working. He is a trusted intermediary in settling royal conflicts amongst the comprehensive Al Saud — ballpark of 4,000 princes. After Prince Sultan demise Salman was specified the defense ministry for three reasons, the first of which is his appeasing and tactful nature. It is well known that he takes special attention in the family’s inner interaction and has served as a arbitrator to settle disputes between high up family members. Saudi Arabia's Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, seen as more moderate than his hawkish brother Crown Prince Nayef who died on Saturday, is likely to be anointed heir to the throne of the world's top oil exporter.

Although the choice of a new crown prince must be confirmed by a family allegiance council, analysts said it would be highly surprising if Salman, now 76, was passed over. "The most obvious candidate is Prince Salman," said Saudi politics professor Khalid al-Dakhil.The most powerful bloc within the variegated ranks of the al-Saud family is thought to comprise the sons born to Ibn Saud by his favourite wife Hassa bint Ahmed al-Sudairi: the so-called "Sudairi Seven".They included the late King Fahd, Prince Sultan, Prince Nayef and Prince Salman. Three other brothers include a former defence minister, a former deputy defence minister and a deputy interior minister.

Riyadh governor Salman had emerged as a key advisor in the crown prince’s Sultan efforts to reassert his role before his death, as King Abdullah pressed key princes into considering the future when reports of impending death of Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdelaziz whilst resting in Morocco after further medical tests in the United States had appeared in late 2008.

Saudi sources had reported that King Abdullah has confidentially suggested that members of the Allegiance Council (Al-Hayaat Al-Bayaa) start to consider probable candidates for a new heir apparent.King Abdullah is said to have advised family members to reflect on the qualities of at least two sons of the Kingdom’s founder Abdelaziz Ibn Saud, Municipal Affairs Minister Prince Mitaeb and General Intelligence Directorate head Prince Miqrin, plus a third unnamed contender, as possible replacements, should Sultan prove unable to continue. Prince Nayef’s was appointed the Crown Prince after Prince Sultan but his death today unexpectedly reopens the question of succession in this crucial oil powerhouse for the second time in less than a year.

Prince Salman will be a connection between the new and old generations of Al Saud's. The 88-year-old King Abdullah has now outlived two selected successors, notwithstanding ailments of his own. The new crown prince must be chosen from among his brothers and half-brothers, all the sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, Abdul-Aziz. Despite the fact that so far Prince Salman is viewed as a "kingmaker rather than a potential king". Most likely Prince Salman is tapped as the new heir, he is the current defense minister. Because of this appointment it meant that he is the next heir in line after Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz. This post is thought to enable him to experience a powerful governmental post before his future appointment as crown prince.

Prince Mitaeb or General Intelligence Directorate head Prince Miqrin one of them may still become the new Defence Minister. It is believed that Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal, Director General of intelligence agency (Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah) Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz and the chairman of National Security Council Bandar bin Sultan are now running the country. Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz born in Riyadh on September 15, 1945 is an outside contender too if King Abdullah presses on. He is the third youngest son and the youngest surviving son of King Abdulaziz. His mother was Yemeni, Baraka al Yamaniyah. Muqrin bin Abdulaziz and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal were reported to be in favor of pushing the sanctions against Iran instead of military action as King Abdullah insisted. Prince Muqrin claim to the throne is strong since he has governmental experience. However, his maternal side not being a member of the Sudairi Seven is seen as a factor curtailing his chance in this regard. Muqrin bin Abdulaziz is said to get gratification from astronomy, literature and Arabic poetry and has a huge library containing thousands of books. King also appointed his son Miteb to head the kingdom's National Guard last year after the elderly monarch fell ill with a herniated disc. The move had sparked speculation then about succession.

Leadership of the National Guard, a Bedouin army responsible for domestic security, has been a treasured role of the current King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz al Saud since 1963—long before he became a candidate for king. The issue is the 'friction' between Sudairi Seven clan and King Abdullah who is not from the powerful maternal affiliations of Saudi Princes. The King Abdullah, is the fifth of Ibn Saud's sons to become monarch of the kingdom. Following the line of succession, of King Abdullah's 18 surviving brothers born to Ibn Saud, Prince Nayef would suppose to become king before any of Ibn Saud's grandsons would be considered but for now Prince Salman will take the mantle of the Crown Prince if unexpectedly Prince Muqrin is not pressed forward. Though later promotion will indicate a serious schism between the family. Like that of Al Salem and Al Ahmed in Kuwait. King's decision to pass on the 'Leadership of the National Guard,' to his second son was part of a broader effort to give more responsibility to the next generation of princes who will have to rule in the future, analysts say.

Prince Salman is also part of a middle generation, a bridge between fathers and sons in the royal family. He remains close to both generations in social and cultural terms. He often participates in the social and literary events organized by the new generation, as well as some of their travels abroad. Prince Salman was born on 31 December 1935. He is reported to be the 25th son of King Abdulaziz. His mother is Hassa al Sudairi. Therefore, Salman bin Abdulaziz is a member of the Sudairi Seven. A key strength at the moment for becoming a Crown Prince.

Prince Nayef who died today on the conversely was a disciplinarian and had vowed at a conference of clerics soon after he become crown prince, that Saudi Arabia would “never sway from and never compromise on” its adherence to the puritanical, ultraconservative Wahhabi doctrine. The ideology, he proclaimed “is the source of the kingdom’s pride, achievement and growth.”Nayef had confidential reservations about some of the reforms by Abdullah, Nayef felt that there was no need for elections in the kingdom or for women to sit on the Shura Council, he was a hawk and a fierce bulwark against Shiite powerhouse, Iran. “A firm demanding at heart,” was the description of Nayef in a 2009 Embassy report on him, leaked by the whistleblower site Wikileaks.

“He harbored anti-Shia biases and his worldview is colored by deep suspicion of Iran,” it said. “Nayef promotes a vision for Saudi society under the slogan of ‘intellectual security,’ which he advocates as needed to ‘purge aberrant ideas’” and combat extremism, it added, noting that his was in contrast to Abdullah’s strategy emphasizing “dialogue, tolerance of differences, and knowledge-based education that is objectionable to many conservatives.” Opposition Saudi sources describe Prince Salman’s personality as pragmatic and points to his ability to reconcile contradictory social and political forces. Salman has advanced opinions on reform and is welcoming of dialogue with opposition members. He enjoys a plethora of relationships with intellectuals from various political persuasions, both inside and outside the country. Through Salman’s supervision of the al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, partially owned by his sons, he has played an important role in modernizing Saudi media. An opposition Saudi source describes Salman’s personality as pragmatic and points to his ability to reconcile contradictory social and political forces. Although known as a conservative who supports the mutawwas -Wahhabi religious police-), Salman also demonstrates sympathy to the movements seeking to rupture traditions, including those supporting the right of women to drive.

Prince Salman, 76, is not the youngest among the sons of the kingdom’s founder, Abdul-Aziz bin Saud. Sources aware of the court’s affairs believe it is likely that royal succession according to age will stop with Salman and possibly Muqrin. After them, the seniority rule will be wrecked, granting the second generation of grandchildren a chance to ascend to the Saudi throne. Despite Salman’s old age and heart disease, he maintains a young at heart courage and is the most open to the younger generations. While he has maintained a close relationship with the religious institutions, it has not cut him off from moderate circles.

Salman unlike Nayef has advanced opinions on reform and is hospitable of dialogue with opposition members. He enjoys a overabundance of relationships with intellectuals from various opinionated point of views, both within and externally.

Since 2006, Prince Salman has headed the Family Council, which is made up of 18 individuals. Roughly half of the council are the sons of the late King Abdul-Aziz, while the remainder are royal descendants of Saud bin Muhammad – the father of the founder of the first Saudi state. Theoretically, the council is limited to managing the family’s inner affairs and must keep clear of political matters. In reality, however, the council is involved in significant matters and executes imperative decisions.

Prince Salman's has a rich knowledge as governor of Riyadh Province dates back to 1950's before he began his long-term service in this post. King Abdulaziz appointed Prince Salman as his representative and the Emir of Riyadh on March 17, 1954, when Salman bin Abdulaziz was nineteen years old. Later, he was appointed by King Saud as governor of Riyadh Region at the rank of minister on April 19, 1955. His son Prince Sultan bin Salman is the first Muslim in space. Abdulaziz bin Salman, the other son of him, is the Deputy Minister of Petroleum since 1995.

The crown prince will be chosen by the Allegiance Council, an assembly of Abdul-Aziz’s sons and some of his grandchildren.


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