For just over two years, until June 2017, Mohammed bin Nayef was crown prince of Saudi Arabia, the designated heir to the throne. A grandson of the kingdom’s founder, with long experience at high levels of government, he was the first of his generation to reach the direct line of succession.
Today, bin Nayef, 59, is rarely seen outside his palace in Jiddah, on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. Usurped by an ambitious cousin barely half his age who took over his title and froze his once-hefty bank accounts, he reportedly passes his days under heavy guard.
The ouster was not completely surprising, since his cousin was the favored son of bin Nayef’s uncle Salman, the current king. But the speed and apparent ruthlessness with which it was done — a late-night summons that left the crown prince with little choice — were shocking to many in the extended royal family, in which decisions had traditionally been made by consensus after extensive consultation.
Now well more than a year into the job, the new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, enjoys nearly absolute power in the kingdom, directly controlling foreign and domestic policy, the security forces, and the economy. [Continue reading…]