Following on from a recent post on the Saudi succession noted Saudi expert Simon Henderson comments on the al-Saud competition of a new generation of princes who are within striking distance of real power. His example, is Prince Bandar bin Sultan, formerly ambassador to the US and now serving as the head of the Saudi National Security Council.
Henderson says that “around 2008, Bandar vanished from the public eye. Exactly what caused Bandar to fall out of political favor remains unclear, but he had acquired no shortage of enemies”. Henderson notes that Prince Bandar was weclomed by the son of Crown Prince Sultan, who is currently assistant minister of defence as well as the son of Prince Nayef who heads the Interior ministry as well as others. Whatever happened Bandar seems to be very much back in favour.
He makes the point that “people who actually know what is going on in the Saudi royal family don’t talk about it — and people who talk about it don’t know what is going on”. Bandar’s health is questionable and as Henderson says the “most prosaic explanation for his return is that, after convalescing in Morocco, where his father, Crown Prince Sultan, is vacationing, he has recovered and has now come home”.
He argues that “despite an outward facade of stability, the House of Saud is in turmoil over succession”. He describes the Crown Prince thus, “though Sultan can still stand, life is essentially one long senior moment”. Next in line Prince Nayef however is not exactly spotless, he has accused Jews of masterminding the 11th September attacks in New York. Henderson goes on to predict a number of changes notably, “Crown Prince Sultan will give up his long-held post of defense minister, handing the portfolio to his son (and Bandar’s half brother), Prince Khalid bin Sultan”. Apparently the long serving foreign minster Prince Saud al-Faisal will resign also due to health problems, it is speculated that Prince Turki al-Faisal will take over. Prince Turki served as ambasssador to the UK and then head of Saudi intelligence.
The article posits the theory that Khalid al-Faisal, half brother to Prince Turki and current foreign minister Prince Saud “will most likely emerge as a future king”. Henderson says that “Prince Nayef is expected to be made crown prince upon Sultan’s death or even before. However, he is said to be still recovering from a bout of cancer, which could mean he would not become king”. It would seem hard to remove Sultan as crown prince however there is a powerful argument for retiring him quickly.