Next-generation Saudi prince takes key Interior post

Mon Nov 5, 2012 7:28pm GMT

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia appointed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as Interior Minister on Monday, marking a significant move towards a new generation of leaders from the kingdom's ruling family.

Prince Mohammed, a son of the late veteran Interior Minister Prince Nayef, who died in June, is best known as Saudi Arabia's long-time security chief and has garnered the praise of Western countries for his role in the campaign against al Qaeda.

"This brings forward the promotion of the next generation to the succession," said Robert Lacey, author of "Inside the Kingdom". Prince Mohammed was born in 1959.

The appointment as Interior Minister lifts Prince Mohammed, who was already a deputy interior minister, into a critical role for the ruling al-Saud family and one that has until now only been held by the current ruling generation.

Despite his role in the security hierarchy, analysts say Prince Mohammed is in tune with King Abdullah's cautious social and economic reforms partly aimed at making Saudi society more open to outside influence.

He replaces his uncle, Prince Ahmed, who was only appointed as Interior Minister in June. "Prince Ahmed is relieved of his position as Interior Minister at his own request and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef is appointed," said a royal decree carried on state media.

King Abdullah, the late Prince Nayef, Crown Prince Salman and Prince Ahmed are all sons of Saudi Arabia's founder King Abdulaziz who was known as Ibn Saud. Analysts said the departure of Prince Ahmed meant he was less likely to become king.

Unlike in European monarchies, the Saudi line of succession has so far passed along a line of brothers and is determined within the ruling family who weigh both the seniority and capability of leading candidates.

Beside Prince Mohammed, analysts have pointed to Mecca Governor Prince Khaled al-Faisal, Eastern Province Governor Prince Mohammed bin Fahd and Saudi Arabian National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah as leading next-generation princes.   Continued...

Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef salutes during a Saudi special forces graduation ceremony near Riyadh in this September 25, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed/Files
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.