SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who became heir to the throne of Saudi Arabia last year, died earlier this month at the age of 79. Al-Ekhbariyah Television stated that Prince Nayef died outside the kingdom while traveling abroad for medical treatment.
The nature of his illness has not been disclosed.
Last Tuesday, Salman bin Abdul Aziz was chosen as the new crown prince by the Allegiance Council – an assembly of Abdul-Aziz’s sons and grandchildren.
According to Sultan Al Qassemi – a well-known political commentator in the region – the transition was not at all chaotic because Prince Salman is considered the last of the generation of Saudi princes in power who interacted with the Kingdom’s founder, which offers him insight into historic events.
Salman bin Abdul Aziz became acting governor of Riyadh district in 1954 and by 1955 was named governor at the rank of minister.
He shortly thereafter resigned and then resumed the post in 1963. In 2011, Salman bin Abdul Aziz became Minister of Defense.
Many Saudi social activists welcome this transition as they disapproved of Prince Nayef’s conservative beliefs and were anxious about the prospect of him coming to power after King Abdullah.
He was known for his unwavering support of the fundamentalist doctrines of the Wahhabi sect and is remembered for his notorious comment, “What we won by the sword we will keep by the sword.”
The new Crown Prince is seen as a less traditionalist figure.
According to Al Qassemi, Prince Salman does not share the strict security background of the late Prince Nayef. Al Qassemi also notes that as a governor of Riyadh, Salman interacted on a daily basis with diplomats and foreign emissaries for several decades.
He is also a strong advocate of philanthropy in poor Muslim countries such as Somalia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It has also been reported that Salman bin Abdul Aziz’s administration of Riyadh Province was corruption-free, although it is hard to tell if this transparency is likely to continue should he become king.
Nevertheless, Prince Salman still gravitates towards conservatism.
According to a 2007 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Salman bin Abdul Aziz opposes the introduction of democracy because of regional and tribal devisions of Saudi Arabia: “He [Salman] said that the [kingdom] is composed of tribes and regions, and if democracy were imposed, each tribe and region would have its political party.”— www.shafaqna.com/english/