Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has been relieved of his post and replaced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman via royal decree, reported state news agency Saudi Press Agency (SPA). Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, on Wednesday, named his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, ushering a gradual removal of powers from the previous Prince Nayef who has been asked to step down from the post.
According to the royal decree, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, would also assume the office of deputy prime minister, and maintains his post as minister of defence.
Mohammed bin Salman, like his predecessors, is a staunch critic of Iran and its policies and just last month, on May 3, he had said there was no scope of any dialogue with arch-rival Iran as feelings of hostility between the two middle-eastern nations rose to an all-time high. He has further pledged to protect his conservative kingdom from what he called Tehran’s efforts to dominate the Muslim world.
In a controversial remark, Prince Mohammed bin Salman said any struggle for influence between the Sunni Muslim kingdom and the revolutionary Shi’ite theocracy ought to take place “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia”. However, he did not elaborate on his statement.
Mohammed bin Salman’s ascension to Prince-hood comes at a time when Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in a battle for influence in the Middle East, supporting rival groups in Syria’s civil war and also in Yemen.