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Stig Stenslie

Stig Stenslie  is assistant director general and head of the Asia Division of the Norwegian Defence Staff. He has held visiting fellowships at, among others, the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo, the National University in Singapore and Columbia University in New York. He hold...
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King Salman consolidates the Al-Sudayri “palace coup”

Stig Stenslie, 27 May 2015

On April 29th 2015 the official Saudi Press Agency announced a royal decree stating that the king’s half-brother, Muqrin, had been replaced as the new heir apparent by Muhammad bin Nayif, the king’s nephew and interior minister. At the same time Muhammad bin Salman, son of King Salman, was appointed deputy crown prince, while Foreign Minister Prince Sa‘ud al-Faysal was replaced by Adil al-Jubayr, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. King Salman’s reshuffling will arguably not bring more stability to Saudi Arabia, but rather increase the long-term risk of political instability. It underpins the notion that the Al-Sudayri clan of the royal family has carried out a "palace coup". The survival of a dynastic regime like the Al-Sa‘ud depends on unity within the elite. Because of Salman’s reshuffling of key positions the Sudayris are now on their own at the helm of the kingdom. The new king’s ultimate goal seems to be to consolidate the succession within his branch of the family and for his favourite son. Salman’s recent appointments will probably trigger considerable dissatisfaction within the royal family, and nurture future rivalry and potential conflicts among the various family fractions. In particular, the appointment of Muhammad bin Salman is likely to be a source of discord.

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