Saudi Arabia's King Salman to hand over crown to his son, Mohammed bin Salman, next week: Report

This would be the first time in 64 years that the crown of Saudi Arabia will pass from one generation to the next.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman to hand over crown to his son, Mohammed bin Salman, next week: Report
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed (in the background).

Saudi Arabia's King Salman may step down next week and hand over the crown to the Islamic kingdom to his son, Mohammed bin Salman, a British news outlet has reported. If it does happen, this would be a major development that is likely to have a cascading effect on the region.

The website of British newspaper Daily Mail said in an exclusive report that 81-year-old King Salman, after handing over the crown to his son, will continue to hold the title of 'Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques'.

This would be the first time in 64 years that the crown of Saudi Arabia will pass from one generation to the next. After the death of the founder of the present House of Saud, King Abdulaziz 'Ibn Saud' in 1953, all six kings have been his sons.

The handover of power to Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS as he is widely known, comes just weeks after he ordered a wave of arrests of around 40 royals in what was described as a crackdown on graft.

Sources told Daily Mail that after taking the crown the 32-year-old MBS will shift focus to Iran, the other major player that is jostling with Saudi Arabia for supremacy in the region. The Saudi royal family has always seen Iran in antagonistic terms, especially after the Iranian Revolution in 1978, which overthrew the Persian monarchy and established a theocratic Islamic Republic.

The sources said MBS is likely to work with Israel to counter Iran and also to defeat Hezbollah, the Tehran-backed Lebanese militia. Israel too had put out the view that it would be willing to work with Saudi Arabia to cut Iran down to size.

MBS has also given strong indications that he intends to break the nexus between the House of Saud and the literalist and puritanical Salafi clergy, also known as Wahhabi. He has said he favours a more moderate strain of Islam. He has also been leading the effort to make Saudi Arabia a more viable economy by diversifying it away from oil.

This is likely to have a significant on the balance of religious power in the entire region. The House of Saud came to power in the 1930s with the help of Ikhwan militia of the Salafi movement. Since then, Salafi clerics have had a grip on power in the kingdom. However, the Salafis' predominance in violent Islamist movements and terror outfits has been a growing point of discomfort for the Saudis.

Mohammed's purge of the royal family found support from US President Donald Trump. He tweeted:

It remains to be seen how the remaining members of the House of Saud react to the handover of power from Salman to Mohammed. With around 40 princes being held prisoner in a luxury hotel in Riyadh, it doesn't seem too tall an ask.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by clicking this link

Close