Power struggle has already started in Saudi Arabia
Sultan bin Abdul Aziz is reportedly in a coma in a US hospital after seeking cancer treatment in New York.
He has been receiving medical treatment during the past two years while the nature of his illness has never officially been revealed.
Press TV interviewed Ali al-Ahmed, Director of Institute for [Persian] Gulf Affairs in Washington to discuss the issue.
In a an interview with Ali Al Ahmed, the Director of IGA in Washingtaon he said that the “ Sultan is really living his last days in Presbyterian Hospital in New York. His death is just a matter of time, a matter of days. The family is obviously very concerned, despite the fact that they know he is old and sick, and has been sick for years now.
What is happening in the country is that arrangements have been made for his departure. His full and younger brother Nayef has recently appointed his other son, the former Saudi ambassador to Spain. He was appointed assistant minister of the interior for public affairs in order to make sure that his sons, Muhammad and Saud, control the powerful minister of interior when their father Nayef becomes crown prince.
So, the arrangements have been made. The ruling family’s members have been staying in Saudi Arabia in stating his death. They have not left the country, and like they do for European vacations that happen every summer.
He further added that If his health condition worsens, then the turmoil and unrest that in the country will also increase, he think the new phase will bring new expectations from the people, and Nayef, who has really been the person running the country, he has been the king in charge, and he has more power than anybody else in the ruling family. So when he moves into this position, he will have greater powers, and people’s expectation will increase including the issue which has been, in the past few weeks, boiling and increasing, which is the issue of thousands of political prisoners that have been arrested for years and have been put on trial.
This issue is boiling; there have been demonstrations and demands for their release or trial. So, the government responded with another crackdown arresting people in Riyadh for the past week. And most of them are families of the detainees, who came and protested, wanted their family members to be released or at least put on trial.
He said that his possible death will intensify the power struggle in the oil-rich kingdom as this happens every time where there isn’t a power shift in the country, members of the ruling family, brothers, cousins will clamber for positions in the administration, because losing such a powerful figure like Sultan, who is not only the crown prince but also the longest serving minister of defense in the world with those billion of dollars, people want to become in charge of those billions of dollars and the power that comes with it.
So, you will see a competition, you will see a struggle between member and brother and cousins in the family. So, we might see some struggle and it will become public, for example one of the brothers [who] has been sticking to Sultan in order to get himself a position. For over 52 years he has been the governor of Riyadh, but he wants to be considered for the throne, and he thinks himself worthy, and better than Nayef.
So, he might raise some challenges to Nayef’s path to the throne, and that has been done by another member, his half brother Talal who said that several times. Yes, we will see some struggle but it might not be that dramatic as some people might think. It will be there, it will not affect the process they have, but it will create a lot of trouble, and if people challenge [them], they will give them a lot of money to shut them up, and that has been the history of that family.