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The Next Royal Showdown: Tensions Grow Between Saudi's King Salman and Prince MBS

The father-son duo has been at loggerheads over several policy issues and the breakdown is said to have intensified following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.


Updated:March 6, 2019, 11:56 AM IST
The Next Royal Showdown: Tensions Grow Between Saudi's King Salman and Prince MBS
File photo of Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince MBS (Image: Reuters)

New Delhi: A rift could possibly be brewing between the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, The Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.

Although the father-son duo has been at loggerheads over several policy issues, the breakdown was intensified by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. A CIA investigation reportedly concluded that the Prince had ordered the murder. The global community at the time had condemned the Crown Prince for the murder which is said to have left the King scrambling to undo the damage.

Following this, the King’s trip to Egypt last month also became mired in controversy when his entire security team was replaced. A new team comprising of 30 hand-picked loyalists was flown in after the King was warned of a potential move against him, The Guardian reported.

“The move was made as a part of a rapid response, and reflected concern that some of the original security staff might have been loyal to the prince," The Guardian quoted a source as saying.

The conflict became all the more clear when the Crown Prince was not mentioned in the official release of the list of guests who had gone to receive the King upon his return to Riyadh.

“A healthy crown prince is expected to welcome the king home from a foreign trip, it’s a sign of respect and the continuity of government. The royal family will be closely watching what this means,” the report quoted Bruce Riedel, a director of the Brookings Intelligence Project as saying.

Moreover, while the King was away, the Prince who had been designated as the “deputy king” moved to appoint Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan as the Ambassador to US and full brother, Khalid bin Salman as the defence minister.

Interestingly, MBS signed the February 23 decree as the “deputy king” although such appointments always bear the king’s name.

A spokesperson of the Saudi embassy in Washington, however, rubbished these claims on Monday. “It is customary for the king of Saudi Arabia to issue a royal order delegating the power to administer the affairs of the state to his deputy, the crown prince, whenever he travels abroad. That was the case during King Salman’s recent visit to Egypt,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.

Popularly known as, MBS, the Crown Prince last month undertook a three-part tour of Asia stopping by Pakistan, India and China. His visit to India and Pakistan came at a time when tensions between the two countries had reached a peak over the Pulwama terror attack, which Pakistan-based JeM had claimed responsibility for.

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| Edited by: Angana Chakrabarti
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