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World
20 Jul 2017

Drug addiction: Reason why Saudi Arabia's heir apparent was replaced

Mohammad bin Nayef, known as MbN in Saudi Arabia's power corridors, was recently asked to step aside by King Salman making his favourite son Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) the successor.

This was apparently done due to MbN's painkiller addiction, which was clouding his judgement.

Certain quarters also speculate that the king used MbN's drug addiction as a reason to elevate his son.

In context

Succession: Was there a coup in Saudi Arabia?

In a nutshell

The Saudi succession saga

The death of King Abdullah in 2015, an overarching figure in Middle East politics, paved way for his half-brother Salman Al Saud to ascend to the throne.

King Salman appointed his nephew, Mohammad bin Nayef as crown prince in April 2015.

Presumably resulting out of internal power struggles with Mohammad bin Salman, the king removed MbN and appointed MbS as crown prince last month.

Details

Is MbN a drug addict?

Sources acknowledge that MbN reportedly had health issues, they aggravated after an al Qaeda suicide bomber tried to blow himself up in front of MbN in 2009.

Certain other sources also indicate that MbN has a shrapnel in his body and frequently resorts to drugs including morphine to manage the pain.

One source also said that he has sought treatment thrice in Switzerland.

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What transpired?

About

What transpired?

MbN was summoned by King Salman to his palace ahead of a meeting and was communicated the reasons for his dismissal.

A letter mentioning the reasons for dismissal was communicated to the House of Saud's Allegiance Council, securing a total of 31 out of 34 signatures.

"Because of this dangerous situation (drug addiction)...he should be relieved of his position", the letter noted.

MbN under house arrest

While MbN signed the letter after understanding the scale of opposition against him, MbN is being kept under house arrest and is only allowed to be visited by family members. Sources further note, that he was given no option but to stay in the country.

Coup attempt (?)

Was this a coup favouring Mohammad Bin Salman?

Many observers had expected MbN's ouster and MbS's ascension since he had emerged as the King's clear favourite since 2015.

MbS had further been trying to get closer to Washington and installed those favouring him in powerful positions.

A source revealed thatt MbS finally decided to go ahead with the coup after he built up a strong relationship with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

What could happen now?

Conclusion

What could happen now?

Many view MbN's ouster as paving the way for MbS's ascension to the throne. Palace sources further indicate that King Salman recently recorded a statement announcing the transfer of the throne to MbS. The transfer of power could happen as early as September.

If chosen, MbN has a tough task ahead of him navigating through falling oil prices and Qatar crisis among other things.

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