Saudi King Salman names new heir to the throne in shakeup

In a major generational reshuffle, Saudi King Salman has elevated Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, to Crown Prince instead of Prince Muqirin; and his own son, Mohammed bin Salman, in his early 30s, to second in line to the throne as well as defense minister. Prince Saud al-Faisal, who served as foreign minister since 1975, was replaced by Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir, the first non-royal to hold the post. The appointments, at the height of the turmoil in Yemen, were a big shift away from the princes favored by the late King Abdullah, whom Salman succeeded in January. Mugrin, a former intelligence chief, was Abdullah’s choice for next heir to the throne. His mother was Yemeni, which some analysts think undermined his position. Of particular interest to the oil trade was the appointment of Khalid al-Falih as health minister and chief executive of Aramco, alongside Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi who stays in his post. DEBKAfile’s analysts note that Salman’s shakeup breaks with the 65-year old Saudi royal tradition of naming the order of succession according to age and alternating it between the royal family’s rival kinship branches. The reshuffle may therefore encounter disgruntlement or even revolt in some of the princely factions.

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