Intrigue in the House of Saud

åThe son of a potential rival to legitimacy for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was killed in a helicopter crash yesterday.  It may be a coincidence, but this incident came soon after the arrest of 11 Saudi princes and dozens of other officials in what I called a coup within the royal family.

Summer Said reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Saudi Prince Mansour bin Muqrin and a number of government officials were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash some 70 miles from the kingdom's southern border with war-torn Yemen, Saudi officials and state television said.

The helicopter went down while the group was touring an area near the coast in Asir province, of which Prince Mansour is governor, according to a statement from the interior ministry's security spokesman. The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known.

"While returning in the evening, contact with the helicopter was lost…authorities are currently searching for survivors where the wreckage was found," the statement said.

Eight people died, two Saudi officials said, though they didn't specify how many were in Prince Mansour's party and how many were crew.

Prince Mansour is the son of prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, who resigned from his position as Saudi Arabia's crown prince in April 2015 to make room for King Salman's son Mohammed bin Salman.

A knowledgeable source emails:

Crown Prince Muqrin is the son of Ibn Saud and a Yemeni concubine, and most thought he was pushed out of the job due to potential succession problems since he was of mixed blood.  His son, Mansour, was deputy governor of Asir province which borders Yemen.

When King Salman ascended to the throne, Mansour's father, Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was made the Crown Prince.  However, his tenure lasted only three months when he was replaced by Prince Muhammad bin Nayef.  According to some, Muqrin's mixed lineage of Yemeni and Saudi blood would have made succession difficult as would his advanced age.  As Deputy Governor of Asir Province, located on the Yemeni border, Mansour and by extension, his father, would be an obvious rallying point for the many people in the Kingdom who do not want to see the country modernize, and could perhaps take advantage of the ongoing conflict in Yemen. They could claim that King Salman broke tradition by removing Mansour's father and that Muhammad bin Salman was illegitimately selected.

Mansour being the deputy governor of the southern province was at face value a pretty common sense move because of his Yemeni background.  I can't say the crash was another instance of the purge.  It could have been in an accident, or maybe the Houthis shot it down, or maybe a mechanical failure.  It's also possible Muqrin and Mansour may have had loyalties to Yemen rather than to Salman and/or were taking advantage of the current conflict to get back at King Salman and his son since Muqrin was unceremoniously dumped after three months.  OTOH, maybe I'm getting a little too Machiavellian. (updated)

I don't think it is possible to be too Machiavellian when dealing with succession issues in feudal states.  I studied Japanese feudal history, where they played for keeps when it came to one bloodline versus another.  When a society is organized in clans, along bloodlines, revenge can last for generations.


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

I suspect we are in for a lot of surprises from Saudi Arabia.  I don't know if the reformers will carry the day.  The stakes couldn't be higher.

åThe son of a potential rival to legitimacy for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was killed in a helicopter crash yesterday.  It may be a coincidence, but this incident came soon after the arrest of 11 Saudi princes and dozens of other officials in what I called a coup within the royal family.

Summer Said reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Saudi Prince Mansour bin Muqrin and a number of government officials were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash some 70 miles from the kingdom's southern border with war-torn Yemen, Saudi officials and state television said.

The helicopter went down while the group was touring an area near the coast in Asir province, of which Prince Mansour is governor, according to a statement from the interior ministry's security spokesman. The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known.

"While returning in the evening, contact with the helicopter was lost…authorities are currently searching for survivors where the wreckage was found," the statement said.

Eight people died, two Saudi officials said, though they didn't specify how many were in Prince Mansour's party and how many were crew.

Prince Mansour is the son of prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, who resigned from his position as Saudi Arabia's crown prince in April 2015 to make room for King Salman's son Mohammed bin Salman.

A knowledgeable source emails:

Crown Prince Muqrin is the son of Ibn Saud and a Yemeni concubine, and most thought he was pushed out of the job due to potential succession problems since he was of mixed blood.  His son, Mansour, was deputy governor of Asir province which borders Yemen.

When King Salman ascended to the throne, Mansour's father, Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was made the Crown Prince.  However, his tenure lasted only three months when he was replaced by Prince Muhammad bin Nayef.  According to some, Muqrin's mixed lineage of Yemeni and Saudi blood would have made succession difficult as would his advanced age.  As Deputy Governor of Asir Province, located on the Yemeni border, Mansour and by extension, his father, would be an obvious rallying point for the many people in the Kingdom who do not want to see the country modernize, and could perhaps take advantage of the ongoing conflict in Yemen. They could claim that King Salman broke tradition by removing Mansour's father and that Muhammad bin Salman was illegitimately selected.

Mansour being the deputy governor of the southern province was at face value a pretty common sense move because of his Yemeni background.  I can't say the crash was another instance of the purge.  It could have been in an accident, or maybe the Houthis shot it down, or maybe a mechanical failure.  It's also possible Muqrin and Mansour may have had loyalties to Yemen rather than to Salman and/or were taking advantage of the current conflict to get back at King Salman and his son since Muqrin was unceremoniously dumped after three months.  OTOH, maybe I'm getting a little too Machiavellian. (updated)

I don't think it is possible to be too Machiavellian when dealing with succession issues in feudal states.  I studied Japanese feudal history, where they played for keeps when it came to one bloodline versus another.  When a society is organized in clans, along bloodlines, revenge can last for generations.


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

I suspect we are in for a lot of surprises from Saudi Arabia.  I don't know if the reformers will carry the day.  The stakes couldn't be higher.

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