Saudi Arabian Crown Prince dies in Geneva
Saudi's Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, the hard-line minister who spearheaded the kingdom's crackdown on Al Qaeda, has died.
He was in his late 70s.
His death reopens the question of succession in the oil powerhouse for the second time in less than a year. King Abdullah, 88, has outlived two designated successors despite ailments of his own. Now a new crown prince must be chosen from among his brothers and half-brothers.
The figure believed most likely to become the new heir is Prince Salman, the current defence minister, who previously served for decades in the powerful post of governor of the capital Riyadh.
The crown prince will be chosen by the Allegiance Council, who may opt for a younger heir.
“This is the big question,” said Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Will this now bring a member of Saudi’s younger generation into the succession path?”
A statement by the royal family said Nayef died on Saturday in a hospital abroad. Al Arabiya TV later confirmed he died in Geneva.
Nayef had been out of the country since late May, when he went on a trip that was described as a “personal vacation” that would include medical tests. He travelled abroad frequently in recent years for tests but authorities never reported what ailments he was suffering from.
Nayef, who was interior minister from 1975, built up his power in the kingdom though his fierce crackdown against Al Qaeda’s branch in the country following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.