Riyadh: Amid furore over Journalist Jamal Khashoggi murder, some of the Saudi Arabia ruling family members are agitating to stop Mohammed bin Salman from becoming king of Saudi Arabia.
According to the report published in The Daily Star, many princes want to make Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz (76) the next king of Saudi Arabia. However, they will not act until King Salman is alive.
It may be mentioned that Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, is the younger brother of King Salman. He was on a trip to abroad and had returned to Riyadh in October.
In 2017, he had opposed the declaration of Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince.
It may be noted that there is no automatic succession in Saudi Arabia rather King and senior family members from each branch select the successor.
It is also reported that senior US officials have expressed that they would support Prince Ahmed as the successor of King Salman.
However, White House might not take decision so early to distance itself from Mohammed bin Salman.
Not only the issue of Khashoggi murder but also Crown Prince’s interest in Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system might create rifts between him and the USA.
Saudi king backs son amid furore over Khashoggi murder
Meanwhile, King Salman stood by the crown prince and heaped praise on the judiciary Monday, in his first public remarks since critic Jamal Khashoggi’s murder tipped the country into one of its worst crises.
The public prosecutor last week exonerated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s son, of involvement in the murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but the CIA reportedly concluded he had ordered the assassination.
The prosecutor called for the death penalty against five men, announced indictments against 11 people, and said a total of 21 individuals were in custody in connection with the killing.
“The kingdom was founded on Islamic principles of justice and equality, and we are proud of the efforts of the judiciary and the public prosecution,” the 82-year-old monarch said in his annual address to the Shura Council, a top advisory body.
“We ensure that this country will never deviate from implementing God’s law without discrimination,” he added, without directly addressing the murder of The Washington Post columnist in his speech.
In Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy, only the king has the authority to oust the powerful crown prince –- who faces intense global criticism over the murder –- but he has repeatedly indicated that he has no intention to do so.
– Shoring up support –
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who claims the orders for the killing came from “the highest levels” of the Saudi government, has pledged that no cover-up of the crime will be allowed.
But US President Donald Trump has praised Saudi Arabia as a “truly spectacular ally” and has refrained from blaming Prince Mohammed despite the Central Intelligence Agency’s reported assessment that he was behind the killing.
Saudi Arabia — which quickly dismissed the reported CIA findings — has offered shifting accounts of what happened, initially saying Khashoggi left the embassy after receiving his documents and later that he was killed when an argument degenerated into a fistfight.
In the latest version, the Saudi prosecutor said a 15-member team went to Istanbul to bring Khashoggi back to the kingdom “by means of persuasion”, but killed him instead in a rogue operation.
The United States has sanctioned 17 Saudis for the crime, including close aides of Prince Mohammed, and is set to make final conclusions this week over the killing.
In a sign of further international pressure, Germany on Monday said it will bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder.