Saudi Women Arrested, WINEP Speculates Royal Succession
A group of Saudi women and children were arrested last weekend after publicly demanding the release of relatives that have been held by the state for years without access to a lawyer. The women were arrested because protests are illegal in Saudi Arabia, but the authorities also arrested the children who were brought to the demonstration by their mothers or grandmothers. CNN reports that three of the women arrested are family members of prominent political activist Suleiman al-Rashudi. Al-Rashudi was arrested in December after giving a speech that said protests are permitted in Islam.
Meanwhile, Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote about the royal succession possibilities in Saudi Arabia today, examining the possibility of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, half-brother of King Abdullah, becoming the next king. Prince Muqrin was recently appointed the second deputy prime minister, the third most powerful position in the country. The current king, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, is 88 years old and the crown prince, Salman bin Abdulaziz, is 77 and suffers from dementia. As all previous Saudi kings have been the sons of the first king, Ibn Saud, the relatively healthy 70 year old Prince Muqrin is a likely option for royal succession. Henderson notes that while Prince Muqrin’s mother was Yemeni, and possibly not even married to Ibn Saud, his father ”clearly regarded Muqrin as a full son,” and he has a “bond” with current King Abdullah because both men have no full brothers.
The succession possibilities get more complex when examining Saudi law. Henderson points out that the Basic Law of Governance says “rule passes to the sons of the founding king and to their children’s children,” and that among the sons, rule should pass to “the most upright” without giving a definition of what that means. While the current king created an Allegiance Council to help with the next succession, Henderson notes that “there is nothing to stop the king from abolishing the Allegiance Council and establishing alternative procedures.”