Saudi Arabia: Prince Nayef named as successor

The front pages of Saudi newspapers featuring a story on the return of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Feb. 23, 2011 as he flew out of Morocco and headed home after recovering from back surgery.
Credit: Fayez Nureldine

Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was named crown prince and deputy prime minister of Saudi Arabia by King Abdullah late Thursday, following the death of Prince Abdullah, 80, on Saturday, reports the Financial Times.

Prince Nayef, 78, served as interior minister and deputy premier in the Council of Ministers before his appointment to succeeded Prince Abdullah, reports Arab News. He will continue his role as interior minister in addition to his new duties.

According to Reuters, with King Abdullah, 87, in poor health and undergoing numerous surgeries for his back, it is possible that Prince Nayef may assume the throne in the near future and have a significant role in shaping the country's domestic and foreign policies.

Prince Nayef is known for his ultra-conservative policies and aversion to change, often opposing Abdullah's moves for more openness, saying he sees no need for women to participate in politics, and having close ties to the religious circles in the desert kingdom, reports Sky News. He is also known for cracking down on terrorist cells.

Nayef has also been highly criticized for an interview he gave in 2002, reportedly saying the Zionists benefitted from the 9/11 attacks because the events turned the world against Islam and the Middle East, according to the Washington Post.

In the wake of Prince Abdullah's death, Prince Nayef was chosen by the Allegiance Council, a 37-member body composed of King Abdullah's cousins and brothers. The King gave the governing body the order to appoint a new heir, reports the Telegraph. The decision was broadcast on Saudi TV.

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