Succession to the Saudi Arabian throne
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The order of succession to the throne of Saudi Arabia is determined by, and within, the House of Saud. It follows agnatic seniority, but a prince may be surpassed or another elevated. The Allegiance Council was created in 2006 to facilitate the royal transfer of power.
King Abdullah is the current ruler of Saudi Arabia. The heir designate from 2005 to 2011 was Sultan bin Abdulaziz; the second in line was Nayef bin Abdulaziz from 2011 to his death in 2012. On 18 June 2012, Salman bin Abdulaziz was appointed the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Prince Salman was also made deputy prime minister. On 1 February 2013, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was appointed second deputy prime minister, a position that had been vacant since October 2011.
Saudi Arabia became a kingdom in 1932. The Al Saud controlled vast parts of the region for two and half centuries. The Saudi royalty collapsed twice in the 1800s due to discord over succession. In 1890s, the Al Sauds was completely supplanted by the rulling dynasty Al Rasheed — the Al Rashid. The kingdom began to fight to restore itself through King Abdulaziz and his capture of Riyadh in 1902.
Ibin Saud conquered Arabia and formed alliances by marriage to members of its biggest tribes. This strengthened his power within the Al Sauds and expanded his legitimacy in Arabia. He presided over the discovery of oil in the region. He died in 1953.
Ibin Saud's eldest surviving son Prince Saud became king in 1953. This reign lasted until 1964. Then, Saud's younger brother Prince Faisal became king upon overthrown of King Saud. Faisal's reign was ended by his assassination in 1975. Faisal's younger brother Prince Mohammad was briefly crown prince but abdicated in favor Prince Khalid, who ascended to the throne and ruled until his death in 1982. Khalid's younger brother King Fahd, the head of the Sudairi faction, ruled from 1982 until his stroke in 1995. Fahd's younger brother Crown Prince Abdullah then took control of the kingdom's affairs and was crowned king in 2005, after the death of King Fahd. King Abdullah is the present ruler of Saudi Arabia. His younger brother Salman bin Abdulaziz became Crown Prince on 18 June 2012 after the deaths of two predecessors.
After Prince Salman, the most likely candidate for next-in-line to the throne is:
- Muqrin bin Abdulaziz (born 1945), Former director general of Saudi intelligence (2005-2012), Second deputy prime minister since 1 February 2013.
The second deputy prime minister has always in the past become crown prince.
Others of the King's brothers who are eligible include:
- Bandar bin Abdulaziz (born 1923)
- Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (born 1931) Former minister of communications.
- Abdul Rahman bin Abdulaziz (born 1931), Former deputy minister of defense and aviation, Sudairi Seven.
- Mutaib bin Abdulaziz (born 1931), Minister of municipal and rural affairs (1980-2009).
- Turki bin Abdulaziz (born 1932), Former deputy minister of defense and aviation, Sudairi Seven.
- Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz (born 1932), Former director general of Saudi intelligence (2001-2005)
- Abdul Ilah bin Abdulaziz (born 1935), Adviser to King Abdullah with the rank of minister since 2008.
- Mamdouh bin Abdulaziz (born 1940), Former governor of Tabuk Province, and former director of Saudi Center of Strategic Studies
- Ahmed bin Abdulaziz (born 1942), Former interior minister (June 2012 - 5 November 2012)
- Mashhur bin Abdulaziz (born 1942), Member of the Allegiance Council.
With the sons of Abdulaziz rapidly growing older, it became clear that soon the supply would be completely depleted. So in October 2006, King Abdullah created the Allegiance Council to deal with this eventuality. It is composed of 28 people: King Abdulaziz's sons, the eldest sons of the brothers who have died and the sons of King and Crown Prince. The Council is led by Prince Mishaal.
Power of the Council
The purpose of the Council is to ensure the smooth transition of power in the event of incapacitation or death of the King or Crown Prince.
This, along with an earlier decree by King Fahd, has opened the possibility of considering Abdul-Aziz's grandsons as viable candidates. Beyond age, the criteria for selection include:
- Support within the Al Saud
- Tenure in government
- Tribal affiliations and origins of a candidate's mother
- Religious persona
- Acceptance by the Ulema
- Support by the merchant community
- Popularity among the general Saudi citizenry.
The Council votes by secret ballot. The council intended to determine the line of succession after the reigns of Abdullah. The council also has the right to remove sitting kings for reasons of health.
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