Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Dies

Posted June 16th, 2012 at 12:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud has died. He was in his late 70s.

State media reports say Prince Nayef, the long-time interior minister who was next in line to the Saudi throne, died on Saturday.

News reports say he died in Geneva. He recently traveled to the Swiss city to seek treatment for an undisclosed illness.

The Royal Court says a “funeral prayer” will be held for him on Sunday in Makkah province.

Prince Nayef served as governor of Riyadh before becoming interior minister in 1975. Last October, he was named crown prince, following the death of Prince Sultan bin Abdul-aziz al-Saud.

As crown prince, he would have assumed the throne upon the death of King Abdullah, who is in his late 80s.

Crown Prince Nayef was closely aligned with the kingdom's conservative clerics.

Middle East analyst Simon Henderson tells VOA, one of the crown prince's most notable achievements as interior minister was leading efforts to try to rid the kingdom of al-Qaida forces.

“It's his leadership which has been leading the Saudi efforts against al-Qaida in the kingdom although it's one of his sons, Mohammed bin Nayef, who has emerged as the leading counterterrorism figure in the kingdom.”

Henderson, the director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says the Saudi defense minister is the crown prince's likely successor.

“The only apparent candidate is Prince Salman, the longtime governor of the Riyadh province, which is the giant province around the capital Riyadh, who last year was promoted to minister of defense to replace Crown Prince Sultan who died last year.”

Analysts say the next crown prince will probably be chosen by the Allegiance Council, a group that includes relatives of the crown prince.