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.
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 Saudi official has denied a report by the New York Times that former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has been confined to his palace and barred from travelling abroad. Mohammed bin Nayef has not been seen in public since June 21, when Saudi state media broadcast a video showing him pledging allegiance to his cousin Mohammed bin Salman, who replaced Nayef as crown prince. An unnamed official told the Reuters news agency on Thursday that the New York Times' report was "not true, 100 percent". The Times had reported on Wednesday that Mohammed bin Nayef was being "prevented" from leaving his palace in the coastal city of Jeddah, after "his trusted guards had been replaced by guards loyal to Mohammed bin Salman". It said restrictions had also been imposed on Mohammed bin Nayef's daughters, before adding it was unclear how long they would remain in place.
As next in line to be king of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Nayef was unaccustomed to being told what to do. Then, one night in June, he was summoned to a palace in Mecca, held against his will and pressured for hours to give up his claim to the throne. By dawn, he had given in, and Saudi Arabia woke to the news that it had a new crown prince: the king's 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman. The young prince's supporters have lauded his elevation as the seamless empowerment of an ambitious leader. But since he was promoted on June 21, indications have emerged that Mohammed bin Salman plotted the ouster and that the transition was rockier than has been publicly portrayed, according to current and former United States officials and associates of the royal family.
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.