Something is not well in the desert kingdom. King Abdullah made a sudden announcement about appointing his half-brother Prince Muqrin as deputy crown prince. No wonder he is grinning from ear to ear. The announcement from the royal court said in case the position of king and crown prince became "vacant." Very interesting indeed.
Friday March 28, 2014, 12:57 DST
Saudi King Abdullah has just cast a vote of no confidence (sorry, no votes in the desert kingdom; that would amount to terrorism as per a new law!) in Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz. He has appointed his half-brother, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, as the country’s deputy crown prince.
Abdullah is 90 and is virtually in the grave but he seems to have nine lives. Salman is 78 or 79, they are never sure since during their days in the desert, they were not good at dates, but he is also not in great health.
In any case, the king has already dispatched two crown princes—Sultan and Nayef—to their graves ahead of himself. OK, Sultan was 86 and suffered from cancer, but what about Nayef who was a youthful 78, according to Saudi standards? What ailment did he suffer from to drop dead at 78?
Rumour has it that he too was suffering from cancer, as well as heart problems. If so, these were well-kept secrets since Nayef gave the impression of being in robust health. He died while on holiday outside the kingdom. It must be nice to die in pleasant surroundings because what awaits them on the other side may not be so comfortable.
In any case, the king announced the appointment of Prince Muqrin as deputy crown prince in case Salman precedes Abdullah to the other side. As the youngest son of Abdulaziz, Muqrin is 70 and is expected to be around for a while although there is no guarantee of that in life.
The regime’s mouthpiece, Al-Arabiya television website said on March 27: "King Abdullah appoints Prince Muqrin as king in case the positions of king and crown prince become vacant," quoting the statement from the royal court. It was delicately put: the two positions will become “vacant” when the angel of death calls. Perhaps Abdullah knows something the rest of us mortals are not privy to.
Interestingly, Muqrin’s appointment was predicted by both the US-based Foreign Policy magazine (June 2013) as well as the Israeli daily Ha‘aretz (June 26, 2013). How did they know what the Saudi king was thinking or do they have an inside source feeding them information about what is going on in the inner sanctum of the otherwise secretive House of Saud?
Muqrin’s appointment also puts to rest speculation—and indeed jostling among the next generation of princes—as to who would become future king. Whosoever of the second generation becomes king, his family will hold sway. This is the trillion dollar question consuming much time of the Saudi hordes.
The family patriarch, Abdulaziz was an active man. From 23 wives, he sired an entire tribe of children. It is believed that he had 45 sons of whom 36 survived. He also had seven daughters. Not bad for a man who was constantly on the move as he raided pilgrims’ caravans on their way to Makkah for Hajj.
One must concede that the Saudi kingdom continues to provide humour, even if it is black humour, on a grand scale.