Former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has pledged allegiance to his successor Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz. A royal decree on Wednesday removed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a 57-year-old nephew of the king, as next-in-line to the throne and replaced him with Mohammed bin Salman, 31, who was previously the deputy crown prince. In televised images released by the state's channel, Mohammed bin Salman, the former deputy crown prince, greeted his predecessor and said "I will never give up your advice". The new crown prince was also named as deputy prime minister, and maintained his defence minister role. King Salman called for royals to pledge allegiance to his son at the Safa Palace in Mecca after the Ramadan Taraweeh prayers.
A 57-year-old nephew of Saudi's King Salman, Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was crown prince until he was replaced by his cousin, Mohammed bin Salman, as heir to the throne. In a major Saudi hierarchy reshuffle on June 21, the former crown prince was also relieved of all his roles, including deputy prime minister and interior minister. "I am content," Prince Mohammed bin Nayef said about his cousin's appointment to crown prince, adding: "I am going to rest now. With years of experience in intelligence work, and having played a major role in Saudi's internal security policies, Mohammed bin Nayef has been called "the prince of counterterrorism". Analysts argue that Mohammed bin Nayef was also the most pro-American of the Saudi leadership, who, unlike his father, led the battle against al-Qaeda.
The former crown prince who was arrested, Mohammed bin Nayef, is also a former interior minister and longtime American favorite. He had developed close ties to American intelligence agencies during years of work together while he was interior minister. He was ousted from both of those roles by the current crown prince in 2017 and he has effectively been under house arrest since then. His younger brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef, was also detained. The crown prince, who acts as the kingdom's de facto ruler on behalf of his aging father, King Salman, has recently faced grumbling within the kingdom and the broader Muslim world over his unilateral decision to halt visits to Mecca in response to the coronavirus -- a move with few, if any, precedents in Islamic history.
But even for Prince Mohammed, the detention of his uncle, Prince Ahmed, startled many analysts. "It is surprising he would move on Prince Ahmed with the king's authority still there," said Kristin Smith Diwan, a scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. The recent wave of arrests has sent tremors of fear through the family and raised questions about the status of the king, three people close to the family said Saturday. The king was photographed in recent days meeting with the visiting British foreign secretary. A doctor with ties to the Saudi hospital that treats many royals said the hospital had received no word that the king was ill.
The recently deposed crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Nayef, has been barred from leaving the kingdom and confined to his palace in the coastal city of Jidda, according to four current and former American officials and Saudis close to the royal family. The new restrictions on the man who until last week was next in line to the throne and ran the kingdom's powerful internal security services sought to limit any potential opposition for the new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize relationships with Saudi royals. It was unclear how long the restrictions would remain in place. An adviser to the Saudi royal court referred queries to the Information Ministry, whose officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday. A senior official in the Saudi Foreign Ministry reached by telephone on Wednesday night described the account as "baseless and false."