Riyadh: Saudi Arabia, ever keen to preserve
its stability, is likely to act quickly and appoint Prince
Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the obvious choice, as the new heir of
the thrown, analysts said.
"There is only one candidate who has all the
possibilities of becoming crown prince: Prince Nayef," the
interior minister and King Abdullah`s half-brother, Abdul Aziz
al-Sager, chairman of the Gulf Research Centre, said.
"It is the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia that
the crown prince disappears and it falls on the king to
propose a new one," said Sager.
Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, aged 80, died
on Saturday in a New York hospital and will be buried in
Riyadh on Tuesday.
Prince Sultan passed away while the monarch himself, 87,
remains in hospital in Riyadh, a week after he had an
operation on his back.
Sager said the decision on who will be the next crown
prince is likely to come swiftly: "perhaps even before the
repatriation of the remains of Prince Sultan."
"The regional and international environment requires a
quick endorsement of the king`s decision," said the analyst,
referring in particular to the unrest in neighbouring Yemen, a
major concern for the Saudi leadership.
The situation in Syria and tense ties with Iran, accused
of attempting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to
Washington, are another source of anxiety for the
ultra-conservative Gulf monarchy.
Traditionally, successions in the oil-rich kingdom have
always been held without apparent conflict among members of
the royal family.
Since the death in 1953 of King Abdel Aziz, who founded
Saudi Arabia in 1932, five of his sons have ascended to the
Most power transfers have been smooth, except that of
1964, when king Saud was forced to abdicate in favour of his
brother and then crown prince, Faisal.
Khaled Dakhil, a political science professor at the King
Saud University, also said the "most prominent candidate to
inherit the throne is Prince Nayef."
"The appointment of Prince Nayef as second vice-president
of the cabinet is a strong indication that he will be made
crown prince," he added.
Prince Nayef, 78, was named second deputy premier in
March 2009, filling a potential void in the succession lineup.
"The choice should not take long, if it hasn`t been made
already, because the members of Prince Sultan`s family knew
his health was very bad."