An unlikely monarch joined the Saudi delegation to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week, and readers of the Kingdom’s political landscape see the move as a message of family unity from his de facto ruler after years of building his power base.
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Ahmed is the eldest son of Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, the detained brother of the Saudi king, and has no official position.
Yet his name is at the top of the Saudi state media’s list of delegates paying tribute to the new ruler of the UAE, along with Crown Prince and successor Mohammed bin Salman.
Prince Mohammed, known as MBS, stopped traveling to the UAE until his father, Raja Salman, 86, left the hospital after a week-long stay that drew the attention of Saudi observers and analysts to the legacy.
“Prince Ahmed’s son sitting next to him in Abu Dhabi is sending a strong message to local and international public opinion, especially to the legacy,” said a source close to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Sensitivity of the subject.
More broadly, the delegation represented a careful balance by MbS of statistics from different branches of the family, said Christian Coates Ulrichsen, a political scientist at the Baker Institute at Rice University in the United States.
“(It) was probably designed to show the unity within the Al Saud family which was under pressure due to issues such as the detention of Prince Ahmed and Mohammed bin Nayef,” he said.
The Saudi government did not respond to a request for comment or comment on the matter.
In a quick rise to power, Prince Mohammed has cracked down on alleged rivals and critics since replacing Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN), the king’s nephew, as Crown Prince in a palace coup in 2017.
After being approved by the Allegiance Council the same year, MBS joining is automatic and cannot be expected to be challenged. He tightly controls the defense minister and the state security services.
But diplomats have identified the March 2020 arrest of MBN and Prince Ahmed as a sore point between Riyadh and Washington, whose ties have been strained since the 2018 assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi authorities have not commented on the detention, which several sources said at the time was a prelude to treason and an attempt to persuade al-Saud’s family to agree.
Prior to the arrest, Prince Ahmed had maintained a low profile since returning to Riyadh in October 2018 after a visit to London where he appeared in online footage to criticize the Saudi leadership.
The Abu Dhabi trip is not the first time that MBS has been promoted beyond the grace of royal family relatives, including forging an anti-corruption purge.
MbN replaced his nephew Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Nayef as Home Minister in 2017. In 2018, Prince Turki bin Talal was appointed deputy governor of the Assyrian region because his brother Alwaleed bin Talal, who had been detained during the purge, was negotiating a release.
As he empowers the younger members of the royal family, Prince Mohammed’s actions signal a definite passage from the generation of King Salman and Prince Ahmed to the stick charge – the surviving son of King Abdul Aziz, who founded modern Saudi Arabia and gave birth to six children as king. .
Christine Dewan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said “Muhammad bin Salman is balancing discontent with some senior members of the ruling family by treating the little princes with courtesy.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)