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Saudi Palace Coup: Defence Chief Alters Line of Succession, Appoints Himself Heir Apparent

Saudi monarchy is sailing into uncharted waters

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The current Saudi king Salman is 82 years old. He's not expected to be around much longer. In fact he is so old his son Mohammad runs things in his place.

The same Mohammed who is Saudi Defence Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and who launched the disastrous and criminal Saudi war in Yemen, blockade of Qatar, and who now speaks of the need to bring war to Iran.

Well, Mohammed just added Crown Prince to his titles. His father has now named him next in line for the throne. That may seem normal for a monarchy, but actually in the Saudi Kingdom that is not the case.

Saudi is an absolute monarchy but power never passes down from father to son. Instead a new king is decided by seniority.

A king's son would inherit only if he is the oldest of his generation, and all the previous royal generations have been exhausted. This is not the case here, a lot of Sauds with a better claim are being bypassed for the throne.

And while elder Sauds have been bypassed for the throne before, they have never been bypassed to set up succession by the king's son.

While the Saudi succession system seems peculiar it has been one of the causes of its stability. It ensures the entire giant Saudi royal family has a big stake in the monarchy.

Saudi TV is saying 31 of 34 royals supported naming the 30-year old Mohammed the next in line but seeing how he already holds power there was little they could have done regardless.

For the record, the old heir apparent has already pledged allegiance to Mohammed but was dismissed as Interior Minister anyway. Clearly somebody thought it best the old future king no longer ran the police.

Anyway, as said, since coming to power in 2015 the trigger-happy Mohammed has greatly destabilized his neighborhood, and gotten the kingdom into all sort of trouble. With him being so young he could conceivably rule Saudi for the next 50 years. However, the question is: with him in charge does the kingdom have another 50 years? Or 15 for that matter.

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