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Race for Saudi Thrones begin

Saudi Arabia is being rocked by rumours that ail ing saudiis on his deathbed. The king is 91 years old, and all his heirs are pretty advanced in terms of age themselves. Saudi succession law states that the king has to be a male heir of King Abdulaziz, the Kingdom’s first modern king, and father of the current king. But Abdulaziz fathered 45 sons with 22 wives, and Abdullah himself is the 25th son. The next in line is Prince Salman, but Abdullah took the unprecedented step of naming his youngest brother, Prince Muqrin, as deputy heir, making him second in line for the throne. “The choice, which leapfrogged some older brothers, reportedly prompted some grumbling among palace insiders over the fact that Muqrin’s mother was a Yemeni concubine who was never formally married to Abdulaziz,“

On Monday, Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud reassured the country’s Cabinet about the health of King Abdullah, who has been hospitalized for almost a week and diagnosed with pneumonia, but rumors that the 90-year-old king is on his deathbed are still swirling online…

Since the first king of modern Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz, died in 1953, the country has been ruled by five of his sons in roughly descending age order. There were quite a few options available: Abdulaziz, who cemented alliances with tribal leaders by marrying their daughters, fathered 45 sons by at least 22 wives as well as an unknown number of daughters.

But the first generation of sons is getting up there in years. Salman, who is next in line for the throne and is thought to be Abdulaziz’s 25th son, is 79. In May, Abdullah took the unprecedented step of naming his youngest brother, Prince Muqrin, as deputy heir, making him second in line for the throne. The choice, which leapfrogged some older brothers, reportedly prompted some grumbling among palace insiders over the fact that Muqrin’s mother was a Yemeni concubine who was never formally married to Abdulaziz. But he’s a close adviser to Abdullah, has diplomatic experience, and at 69, is a spring chicken by House of Saud standards.

Sooner or later, of course, the crown will have to move to the next generation. At that point, things may get a little dicey. Under Saudi succession law, the king has to be a male descendant of Abdulaziz, but beyond that, the incumbent king has wide latitude to determine his successor. Given that many of the brothers took after Dad or even exceeded him—King Saud, the second king, had 53 sons—there are now thousands of these descendants, many of whom have senior government positions, and the potential for palace intrigue is high…

 

Courtesy : Joshua Keating – The Game of Saudi Thrones is in play.

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