The Likely Next Saudi King

(National Post-Canada) Peter Goodspeed - With the death Saturday of Crown Prince Sultan, analysts almost unanimously agree the Allegiance Council and King Abdullah will appoint Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, 77, the conservative Interior Minister since 1975, as the new Crown Prince. He served as an unofficial acting crown prince during Prince Sultan's illness and, since March 2009, has been Saudi Arabia's second deputy prime minister. Prince Nayef and his security services are on the front lines of a Saudi battle to resist change. He commands a paramilitary force of about 130,000 men, the secret security services, and local and national police. He is also responsible for the country's notorious religious police, who enforce strict Islamic practices. U.S. diplomatic cables, released by WikiLeaks, say Prince Nayef is "a hardline conservative who at best is lukewarm to King Abdullah's reform initiatives." "Nayef is much more conservative than either Abdullah or Sultan, and much more suspicious of America," said Bruce Riedel, a former Middle East expert for the Central Intelligence Agency, now with Washington's Brookings Institution.

2011-10-25 00:00:00

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