Saudi Arabia and Game of Thrones

Saudi Arabia and Game of Thrones

Thursday, November 29, 2018 2:51 pm

Mohammad Bin Salman, right, and Jamal Khashoggi

Rasheed Akinkuolie

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi National at the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2nd October, 2018 attracted world wide attention and uproar. The killing of a national in a place which ordinarily should be a place of refuge is unusual , most especially, if the suspected culprits turn out to be agents of the victim’s state.

This crime is one in a series of other occurrences in Saudi Arabia, since 32- year old Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) was appointed crown prince by his father, King Salman Ibn Saud in June, 2017. The following incidents in retrospect which are now of international interest may throw more light on what the future portends for the kingdom and its monarchy.
a. The Crown Prince, soon after his appointment placed under ‘hotel arrest’ several princes, including the influential and wealthy, Prince Waleed Al Thalal.

b. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri while visiting Saudi Arabia in November, 2017 was coerced to resign from his post as prime minister on Saudi television. He was only allowed to go back home, after protests from Lebanon and the international community.


Rasheed Akinkuolie

c.The War in Yemen which escalated dramatically with the intervention of Saudi Arabia is now taking heavy tolls on civilians, draining resources and going badly.

d. The kingdom had a diplomatic row with Canada over a trivial tweet by a Canadian Minister which was critical of the arrest of a woman activist in Saudi Arabia. The rash response was to expel the Canadian Ambassador to the Kingdom.

e. Qatar, with Saudi instigation was blockaded with ultimatums which included closing down the Qatar based Aljazeera television.

f. The Jamal Khashoggi murder is the latest in a series of secret arrests and probable murders, which may have implicated officials of the Saudi government. The wrong target and victim was chosen this time, and it has drawn attention of the international community to other affairs of the kingdom.

The Abdulazeez Ibn Saud family had ruled Saudi Arabia since 1932, when the first king, Ibn Saud ascended the throne. His sons have succeeded him on a pecking order of seniority. This arrangement stabilized the monarchy for over eight decades until 2015, when King Salman Bin Saud succeeded King Abdallah.

The latter had presciently decreed that Prince Muqrin, 73, the former governor of Madinah should not be removed as crown prince, even by his successor. He probably suspected that upsetting the established order would create the problems faced by the Ibn Saud dynasty today.

King Nayef Bin Saud replaced Prince Muqrin with his nephew, Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef, three months after ascending the throne. Mohammed Bin Nayef was again replaced in June, 2017 by Mohammed Bin Salman, one of the sons of the king.

The change in the succession plan, as it is, will create a father to son succession which will exclude and suppress other bloodlines. This may be the norm in Morocco, Jordan, Europe and the Emirates in the gulf, but thousands of Saudi Princes, who are direct descendants of Ibn Saud are bound to challenge this subtle coup.

The revolts within the Ibn Saud family have already commenced. Some Senior Saudi Princes have gone into exile, some were forcibly extradited from abroad and imprisoned. The Ibn Saud family may suffer the fate of the defunct monarchies in Egypt, Iraq, Russia and the Turkish Ottoman Empire, if the current crisis is not well managed.

Past Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia were in most cases exposed, highly experienced, well educated with long years of tutelage, before ascending the throne.

The current young crown prince, however, has limited administrative exposure and competence to navigate through the complex politics and intrigues of the Middle East and the International Community.

King Salman may need to rule and reign, while the young crown prince learns the ropes of governance before taking on the heavy responsibilities of ruling the kingdom.

The one lineage succession will be difficult to actualize, if at all feasible without generating monumental crisis in the kingdom. The Ibn Saud must be cautious in handling the present family feuds, if it expects to celebrate the centenary of its rule.

• Ambassador Akinkuolie Rasheed was Director of Trade and Investments in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Abuja
[email protected]

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