A lucky hand

With the death of Sultan, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia there is a chance that the House of Saud has been dealt a lucky hand, it is unclear whether they will use it.

Sultan, who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s, died in a New York hospital early this morning, and was thought to be 85 or 86. The death of Sultan removes the possibiltly of Sultan becoming king, albeit, in name only. It avoids the chaos and lack of order that this scenario would bring and has thankfully been avoided.

King Abdullah, 86, who is a moderate, in Saudi terms has done much to improve the lives of ordinary Saudis, but his time too will come, sooner rather than later. There is also only so much he can do however given his age and his own health problems.

Now the real test comes, the Allegience Council, that was set up in 2006 to decide the next heir to the throne has a task on its hands. It should choose Prince Nayef, 77, the Minister of the Interior, as the new Crown Prince. Nayef has been second deputy prime minister, effectively crown prince in waiting, since 2009. If it does not it will be an absolute insult to Nayef, but few envision Nayef not being named to the post of Crown Prince in the coming days.

The post of second deputy prime minister however is more complex. It needs to go to a prince who has enough expierence, but who is young enough to be in good health when Nayef dies. Thus, this is the most important appointment that Saudi royals will ever make and will shape the kingdom for decades to come.  A report quotes Middle East expert Simon Henderson saying that who becomes Crown Prince “will come only after political machinations within a newly made council, a seal of approval from the country’s religious leaders and a decision from King Abdullah”. Nayef is well known to be close to the religious establishment.

The report says that “Under the rules forming the [allegience] council, the king presents three candidates to be his successor. If he and the council disagree over the final choice, the council votes. The council was only meant to begin making decisions after Sultan had succeeded Abdullah. It will now be put into action sooner than expected”. The report goes on to say that “Nayef is 77 and reportedly dealing with health problems. During a November 2010 news conference in Mecca, Henderson noted, journalists observed that he ‘depended on aides to help him answer questions'”.

Nature has dealt the House of Saud a lucky hand. While it is almost impossible not to see Nayef as the new Crown Prince, the next generation is waiting. Who gets chosen will set the course of the kingdom, as well as the world economy for decades to come.

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4 Responses to “A lucky hand”

  1. A 21st century comté d’Artois? « Order and Tradition Says:

    […] appointment of Nayef follows the death and funeral of Crown Prince Sultan. Reports note that “Sultan’s death is the first time that […]

  2. Prolonging the inevitable « Order and Tradition Says:

    […] the stoke of luck that the House of Saud received from the death of Crown Prince Sultan last year it […]

  3. Now is the time « Order and Tradition Says:

    […] the death of Nayef, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia the lucky hand that the House of Saud were dealt was wasted. Nayef is “the second Saudi crown prince to die […]

  4. “Panic in Riyadh” « Order and Tradition Says:

    […] posits the theory that “In June, when his uncle Crown Prince Nayef died, the Saudi Press Agency published a photo of Bandar, saying he offered his condolences. A week ago, […]

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