RIYADH – The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, named his son Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday as Crown Prince, replacing the current heir to the throne and his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef.
According to an official statement, Mohammed bin Nayef has been removed from the office of Interior Minister, replaced by Mohammed bin Salman’s elder brother Prince Abdelaziz Bin Saud bin Nayef, who has been serving as governor of the eastern region in the country.
The 31-year-old new crown prince, who has been widely considered as a de facto ruler of the kingdom since his father’s accession to the throne in January 2015, will also be named Deputy Prime Minister, while maintaining his current post of Defense Minister.
According to the Saudi news portal Al Ejbariya, the appointment of Mohammed bin Salman was approved by 31 of the 34-member Allegiance Council, a body created in 2006 by the then monarch Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz al Saud to handle and settle matters regarding succession.
The official appointment of Mohammed bin Salman as the new heir to the throne took place during the “Tarauih” prayer in Al Safa Palace in Mecca.
Prior to naming a new heir, the King earlier requested the amendment of the second paragraph of the Allegiance Council decree, to stipulate that the government be run by the sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, Abdelaziz bin Abdelrahman al Faisal al Saud, and requiring his grandchildren be named the rulers of the kingdom.
The monarch has also amended another decree specifying that the first in line to the throne come from the same succession line as that of the kingdom’s founder, a rule that propels the appointment of Mohammed bin Salman as the new heir to the throne.
Experts believe the new crown prince has played an active role since 2015 in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, as the kingdom spearheaded the founding of the Islamic Military Alliance, a counter-terrorism organization with member countries in the Muslim world.
This appointment comes following a recent diplomatic crisis in the Gulf as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the Gulf state of financing extremist Islamist groups.