Amid the controversial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, some members of the Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are against the decision of selecting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the next heir, three sources close to the royal court revealed to the Times of India.
The sources also said that dozens of princes and cousins want the succession of the throne to be changed but would not act or say anything while King Salman is still alive. They believe that the king is unlikely to pass the throne to anyone else apart from his favorite son, who is referred to as Mbs in the West.
Meanwhile, talks about Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz becoming the next king can be heard amidst the royal family members. The 76-year-old is the younger brother of King Salman.
Prince Ahmed returned to Riyadh after spending two and a half months abroad. During his trip, he criticized the Saudi leadership in response to protestors outside a London residence. He is one of the three people on the Allegiance Council, consisting of the senior members of the royal family, who raised voice against the election of MbS becoming the crown prince in 2017, according to two Saudi sources.
The House of Saud as hundreds of princes and there is no process to elect the next heir to the throne. Instead, the family tradition involves selection of the one they think is the fittest to rule.
According to sources, senior US officials have pointed towards supporting Prince Ahmed being elected as the next leader. He was the deputy interior minister for Saudi for around 40 years. The sources further said that they were positive of Prince Ahmed not reversing any of the social or economic reforms enacted by MbS, and would also honor the current military procurement contracts, and thus would maintain the unity of the family.
A US official said that they are not distancing themselves from the crown prince despite of the pressure from the lawmakers, and the CIA’s assessment that Khashoggi’s murder was ordered by MbS. The official also said that the king’s move of standing by his son MbS during the speech, and not talking anything about the murder was a smart decision.
Late Tuesday, Trump vowed to be a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia despite that he may be involved in the murder plan. “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in a statement that was issued by the White House.