The Saudi Dynasty Succession Crisis to Come

Analyzing the top news stories across the web
June 2 2014 2:51 PM

The Saudi Dynasty Succession Crisis to Come

91068811-in-this-handout-image-provided-by-kaust-king-abdullah
Who will follow?

Photo by Scott Nelson/KAUST via Getty Images

This post first appeared on Business Insider

The Saudi dynasty is facing its biggest dynastic challenge in 50 years, and Game of Thrones-style cracks are showing in the imminent transition from King Abdullah’s rule. 

Advertisement

Liz Sly of the Washington Post details growing discontent in the royal family after the contentious appointment of the king’s youngest brother, Muqrin, as the deputy heir.

The choice of Muqrin, a British-educated fighter pilot who has close ties to the U.S., is controversial partly because he is the son of a Yemeni concubine who was never formally married to his father, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who founded the Saudi state  in 1932.

“He is not a real prince; his mother was a slave and there are other brothers who are more competent,” a former Saudi official told Sly. “Nobody believes Muqrin can become king.”

The newly-created title effectively allows Muqrin, 69, to bypass at least two other brothers, which goes against the unspoken rule that succession passes down according to age.

King Abdullah is believed to be around 90 and his immediate successor, Crown Prince Salman, is 79. Both are in poor health.

Over the last six decades, the succession mostly passed brother to brother in order of their age. But the last of the current line of brothers will die soon, passing power to the third generation of the family.

Sly explains the problem that consequently arises:

"Given that there are scores of princes in [the third generation], the potential for discord is high. Whoever inherits the throne is likely to anoint his own brothers as future heirs, thereby cutting out multiple cousins from access to the throne and the patronage it provides."

This chart from The Washington Institute lays out the line of succession up to this point Murquin is one of the "19 other surviving sons":

saudisuccession

The Washington Institute

Michael Kelley is a reporter at Business Insider. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.