The knight of counter terrorism

A strong record

Of all the people who have held important positions in the Saudi Ministry of Interior, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was unique. Upon assuming the position of Assistant Secretary of the Interior in the late 1990s, US officials breathed a sigh of relief. They trusted him. He had become an important and well-respected figure to the US in the war on terror.

His assumption of such a position was considered good fortune by the Americans and Saudis alike, as his tenure coincided with the beginning of al-Qaeda’s activities towards the Kingdom.

Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was the Deputy Minister of the Interior in the Kingdom as the most difficult period of unrest was passing in the Kingdom. But he confronted it and put himself in the crossfire to defend his countrymen. Like his father Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, who was also the Minister of the Interior, he similarly had the qualities of commitment and sacrifice.

He pursued terrorists relentlessly, bringing great results for the Saudi people. His pleasure was in protecting his homeland from internal dangers.

His unique strategy in combating terrorist outposts allowed him to walk the thin line between firmly confronting terrorism and reassuring the Saudi public, winning over public opinion both at home and abroad.

In addition to all this, he was keen to reassure foreigners residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, sometimes evening responding to calls from the families of residents in order to offer them reassurances.

The most prominent successes of Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was to thwart terrorist attempts to win the sympathy of the people. For example, he thwarted the attempt to kidnap a young American diplomat during an attack on the American consulate in Jeddah.

Prince Muhammad bin Nayef’s efforts to serve his country were not limited to working inside it. His efforts extended outside the borders of the Kingdom, where he monitored armed terrorist groups. After these terrorists gave up on working inside Saudi Arabia, after the Prince tightened his grip on them, they went to Yemen, and in 2009, out of the responsibility that he bore towards all humanity, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef established a system to monitor the organisation abroad. This allowed him to uncover an Al Qaeda plot, which involved placing bombs on board a UPS and FedEx aircrafts, which were heading from Yemen to Chicago and the city of Detroit in the US, ahead of the US congressional elections in 2010.

Accordingly, the Prince called the White House and informed John Brennan, President Obama’s advisor for counterterrorism affairs, telling him how to identify the parcels containing the bombs and tracking them on the planes. The two planes were intercepted at West Midlands Airport in the UK, and the bombs were defused and secured.

This incident, along with others, increased the respect Prince Muhammad bin Nayef held among the senior leaders of the White House. He became an international icon in the field of countering terrorism.

A wise and structured strategy:

Besides the field work of Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, in his capacity as Assistant Minister of Interior, he had an effective role in the legislative arena. This included developing a new strategy to combat terrorism. He introduced policies including:

  1. The tightening of measures to track down terrorists.
  2. Introducing lists of wanted people within a new system, updating these lists periodically, and linking them to the results of criminal investigations.
  3. Raising the efficiency of security personnel so that the raids they carried out did not affect civilians, only the targeted terrorists themselves. This was known as qualitative competence.
  4. Bin Nayef studied the violence that occurred in Algeria in the 1990s in its fight against terrorism, and worked to ensure that this would not be repeated in his homeland.
  5. An order of complete secrecy on all procedures.
  6. Use the media as a weapon against terrorist organisations, using it to explain the threat posed by such groups to the public security in the Kingdom.
  7. He also transformed Saudi prisons from mere detention facilities to rehabilitative facilities, using psychologists to treat terrorists. Inmates had different activities and interests, and they were allowed to visit their families. In addition, they could attend family events. The families also received special financial aid to improve their housing conditions, medical care and education, in order to cut off the source of grievances that could lead to terrorist activities. This proved greatly successful, and the percentage of those returning to terrorism after leaving Saudi prisons was less than in the United States or Europe.

A new era

In June 2012, the royal family received the news of the death of Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Interior, and the important position became vacant.

There was no one more qualified to occupy this position than Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Accordingly, in 5 November of the same year, a royal decree was issued appointing bin Nayef as Minister of Interior.

After assuming this sensitive ministerial position, the Prince faced new challenges from a new type of terrorist organisation – ISIS.

 ISIS sought to control Mecca, and announced in November 2014 that they had taken control of the Grand Mosque. They published fake pictures of their black flag flying over the Holy Kaaba and tried to clash with security forces on the border.

Prince Muhammad bin Nayef responded to these threats with violence and firmness, and ordered the pursuit of the terrorists, arresting some of them. The Kingdom also established a security wall 600 miles long along the borders of the Kingdom and Iraq.


Prince bin Nayef’s role in Operation Decisive Storm

In 2015, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef led a major military intervention in Yemen, Operation Decisive Storm, as part of a coalition of ten Arab countries against the Houthi rebels.

Decisive Storm was meant to be series of air strikes against Houthis targets in Yemen, in support of the legitimate elected government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, president of the Republic of Yemen.

The military intervention was specific and legitimate, and aimed to maintain the security of the kingdom. It came at a time that Saudi Arabia was threatened by the Iranian-backed Houthi movement.

Prince bin Nayef played a part in preparations for this conflict, but Decisive Storm took a different turn after Prince bin Nayef was removed from the Ministry of Interior. It would become an unfettered adventure; an adolescence action that obeyed the desires and calculations of other global forces that had their own personal agendas in Yemen. In another words, the legitimate war became a travesty. Saudi Arabia would then attract a global wave of criticism for its actions, perhaps more than ever before, and the kingdom’s resources were drained. The Saudi army entered a dark period from which it is yet to emerge, with its initial aims left unfulfilled.


Positions and achievements

  • Prince bin Nayef was head of the Supreme Hajj Committee in Saudi Arabia and the Supreme Authority for Industrial Security. He also chaired the High Council at King Fahd College for the Study of Security as well as the Supreme Council for Civil Defense.
  • His Highness, also contributed to many charitable and humanitarian services and institutions to help civilians in many afflicted Muslim countries, Arab and non-Arab, such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan). He used to chair committees and aid and relief institutions to help those who were affected by natural disasters and war. He was also Head of the National Foundation for the Care of Inmates.
  • His academic background qualified him to become an assistant to the Minister of Interior for Security Affairs on 28 Muharram, 1420 AH (13 May, 1999 AD). Muhammad bin Nayef was known there as the “engineer of the anti-terrorism program”. He put an end to rebellions by terrorist sects that threatened public security in Saudi Arabia.
  • The programs devoted to combating terrorism in the kingdom, which Prince bin Nayef led with high precision, were successful.
  • In 2004, the Crown Prince and Head of National Security Prince Abdullah appointed Prince Muhammad bin Nayef as a member of the Supreme Media Council, and during this period the Emir was appointed Director of Civil Defense. He was also appointed to be Assistant to the Minister of Interior under Prince Nayef bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud. Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was appointed to this position as he was the most influential in the security service at the time.
  • In 2009, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was appointed member of the Saudi Supreme Council for the Economy, in order to strengthen and develop the country’s economic policies.
  • On 5 November 2012, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was chosen to be the tenth interior minister from the dynasty of the historical kingdom, that of King Abdulaziz bin Al Saud. His status abroad greatly increased amid a host of conferences and summits on ways to bring security and peace to the region. Among these conferences was a summit held between Prince bin Nayef, British prime minister David Cameron and US president Barack Obama in Washington. This tripartite summit discussed the regional security of the kingdom and its international allies.
  • In 2014, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef succeeded Bandar bin Sultan, head of Saudi intelligence, in the task of obtaining information about Syria and its security intelligence, as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to bring peace to Syria and the Arab region.
  • On 29 April 2015, Prince bin Nayef became the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. He was at the time already president of the Council of Political and Security Affairs, a role he had taken up on 23 January 2015.

With this track record, it seems obvious to us that Prince bin Nayef is no amateur in the game of politics, but rather a veteran politician and statesman with few equals in the kingdom.

His achievements have given him an international weight above that of his counterparts in other countries and global intelligence services.



  • Prince Mohammed studied at the Institute of Riyadh, where he completed his primary, middle and high school studies. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science at Lewis & Clerk University in the United States in 1401 AH (1981 CE).
  • Prince bin Nayef enrolled in several military training courses inside and outside Saudi Arabia, including security courses with the FBI in the US (1985 until 1988) and counter-terrorism with Scotland Yard (1992-1994).


Who is Prince Muhammad bin Nayef?

Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Saud is one of Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz’s ten children. His mother is Al-Jawhara bint Abdulaziz bin Musaed bin Giloy.

Muhammad bin Nayef was born in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on 26 Safar, 1379 AH (30 August, 1959).

His Highness is the second son of Prince Nayef, and he has three brothers – Saud bin Nayef, Nawwaf bin Nayef and Fahd bin Nayef – and six sisters – Nouf bint Nayef, Haifa bint Nayef, Mashael bint Nayef, Noura bint Nayef Sarah bint Nayef and Jawhara bint Nayef.

His wife is Princess Rima bint Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, with whom he had two daughters: Princess Lu’lu’a bint Muhammad bin Nayef, wife of Prince Nayef bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, and Princess Sarah bint Muhammad, divorced from Prince Saud bin Fahd bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud al-Kabir.


Why is bin Nayef the best candidate to lead Saudi Arabia?

In light of the current circumstances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is facing, there is no one better than Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to take over as king. He has all of the attributes necessary for the role and is the most worthy of the family members for this position.

In terms of lineage and honor, his history is like an unstained white garment. His hands are clean of the blood of Muslims, and he has only undertaken difficult decisions with sufficient reasons. It is known that he is fair, and his record is clean at home and abroad.

He did not involve the country in uncalculated adventures, nor did he seek to separate Saudi Arabia from its values to please any other country or individual.

He was always supportive of the Kingdom’s leadership and also of the country in its leadership role among other Gulf countries. Now the Kingdom is following in the footsteps laid for it by other countries as they exploit the foolishness of the Kingdom’s new teenaged leaders, notably the UAE and US.

As for political experience, bin Nayef held leading positions in Saudi Arabia since his youth.

In terms of the security services and military, he is the most intellectually capable and has practical experience locally and internationally. His achievements in these fields are attested by intelligence and security leaders across the world.

Bin Nayef also has great experience in economics, as he was a member of the Saudi Supreme Council for the Economy in 2009, and he is able to restore the strength of the Saudi economy.

Diplomatically, he is respected by all Arab countries, especially as he supervised many relief operations in the region and is known for his ability to heal divisions.

Bin Nayef is able to restore the Kingdom’s reputation as a pioneer in defending Islam, embracing the noble Prophet’s Sunnah. He could be trusted to reform the damage done by the current team of adolescents, who have led the Kingdom into such decline.

It is impossible for a reasonable person to look upon all these qualities, combined in one person, and come to any conclusion other than that bin Nayef should lead the kingdom.


They said about Prince Muhammad bin Nayef

President Barack Obama:

“I can say that, on a personal level, my work and the US government’s work with Crown Prince bin Nayef, on counterterrorism issues, has been absolutely critical not only to maintaining stability in the region but also protecting the American people.”

Former CIA director John Brennan:

“I have worked with my Saudi partners for many, many years. I served in Saudi Arabia for about five years and under the leadership of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also the minister of interior. Over the last 15 years, the Saudis have become among our best counterterrorism partners. And so with King Salman and the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Salman, we feel as though we have really strong partners in this fight against terrorism.”

“Over the course of my interaction with MBN, he wasn’t someone I thought was engaged in corrupt activity or was siphoning off money.”

Former CIA director George Tenet:

“He is someone in whom we developed a great deal of trust and respect… Many of the successes in rolling up al-Qaeda in the kingdom are a result of his courageous efforts.”

“There is great cooperation from Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, to defeat the terrorists and hunt them down.”

Former CIA official Bruce Riedel:

“Prince Muhammad bin Nayef is the most appropriate man to combat terrorism in the region.”

Washingtom Post journalist David Ignatius:

“The dazzling rise and tragic fall of Mohammed bin Nayef is a modern Shakespearean tragedy, set in a desert kingdom. Whatever MBN’s failings, the American intelligence officers who worked with him regard him still as a hero who helped save his country when it was mortally threatened. They recall the motto of the Mabahith, the modern security service that MBN did so much to create: ‘A homeland we don’t protect, we don’t deserve to live in.’”

“MBN wasn’t a profligate spender, compared with some senior princes, according to Americans who knew him well.”

“The fruits of this US-Saudi partnership were clear in 2010 when the Saudis uncovered a plot by AQAP to transport plastic explosives hidden inside computer printer cartridges that would be shipped aboard international cargo planes. That operation, involving agents recruited through MBN’s special-operations funds for Yemen, saved many lives, according to U.S. and Saudi former officials.”

A former senior US official stationed in Riyadh:

“Everybody in the US government understood that MBN had the broadest spending authority from the king.”

Former director general of the CIA Leon Panetta:

“Mohammed bin Nayef plays an indispensable role protecting the kingdom founded by his grandfather. As intelligence chief, he decimated al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, penetrating plots, cracking down on funding and promoting deradicalization.”

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

“In only a few years’ time, Saudi Arabia’s soft strategy to combat extremism and terrorism (under the supervision of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef) has generated some very promising results.”


Prince arrest case


The arena remained empty after Prince bin Nayef was removed from the mandate of the Covenant, so the new Crown Prince established what is known as the Anti-Corruption Committee, under his direct chairmanship, to give him cover in the process of disciplining princes and subjecting them to his authority. His main objective was to arrest prominent Saudi princes who might pose a threat to his rule. As a result, bin Nayef was placed under arrest.

Immediately after a meeting of the Allegiance Commission, a recorded clip was shown in which Mohammed bin Salman kisses the hand of bin Nayef, telling him: “We are always in need of your direction and guidance.” Bin Nayef answers, with an anger that can be seen on his face: “Good luck to all.” Prince bin Nayef was then allowed to go to his palace in Jeddah, but was prevented from leaving it, so as not to pose a threat to bin Salman’s throne.

The news of the prince’s arrest in his palace was kept secret until the New York Times reported the story. In the story, several senior officials and assistants of the royal family made accusations about the way bin Salman put pressure on bin Nayef to resign. However, the sources were anonymous, so as not to endanger their lives or cause problems for them in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi’s rulers were focusing on polishing the image of the new Crown Prince, and forcing the Saudis to forget any competitors who might threaten his new position. So bin Nayef was stripped of all positions and kept well away from television screens. No one saw him except at the funeral of his mother, Princess Al-Jawhara bint Abdulaziz bin Musaed, in May 2019.

The Saudi media deliberately ignored bin Nayef’s presence at the funeral and only mentioned the name of his brother, Prince Saud bin Nayef.

But the prominent princes and leaders of the great tribes had a different opinion, and they raced to console Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. The kingdom’s authorities realised that the prince retained his popularity despite everything they had done to strike him from history. So they decided that it was necessary to think of another way to remove bin Nayef permanently.

Corruption accusations

The Saudi Game of Thrones reached a dark new level when Prince Muhammed bin Nayef was charged with corruption. He was once the hero of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the war against terrorism, but is now under investigation for corruption.

The roots of this dispute arose between the supporters of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, headed by the former chief of the royal court, Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, and the entourage of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This dispute began directly after King Abdullah passed away in January 2015.

It has also become clear that the Anti-Corruption Commission created by bin Salman has nearly finished a detailed investigation and is now plans to condemn bin Nayef.

During the investigation, the investigators ordered bin Nayef to pay $15 billion they claim he had embezzled while working as assistant to the Saudi Interior Minister and head of the Security Affairs Council, but they did not specify details on how they arrived at the $15 billion figure.

The Washington Post newspaper published an article entitled “The dazzling rise and tragic fall of Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Nayef”, which reported that bin Nayef’s supporters responded to the accusations against him by refuting the charges, saying the contradicted the royal decree issued in 2007 by the king stating that all bin Nayef’s financial activities were approved.

The secret decree issued on December 27, 2007, which bore the signature of King Abdullah, stipulated that the Assistant Minister of Interior, bin Nayef, would manage a secret fund to supports the Kingdom’s efforts to combat terrorism.

In addition, the decree granted bin Nayef permission to establish any project that could use these funds to hide sensitive activities within the private sector. The decree also stipulated that bin Nayef would declare the expenses of the fund at the end of each year to the King himself.

Indeed, bin Nayef, in 2013, submitted a report about the secret anti-terrorism expenditures that year, and on 20t May 2013, the document requested approval for spending $1.3 billion, equivalent to 5 billion Saudi riyals. He wanted to spend them on eight projects – an amount of 1.6 billion Saudi riyals was allocated for transport services, 378 million riyals for secret airports and 1.5 billion riyals for security resources, such as weaponry. The BBC revealed in February 2013 that a project for an unmanned aircraft in the Kingdom had been started with the support of the United States.

The head of the royal court, Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, the most influential man during the reign of King Abdullah, responded to bin Nayef’s expenses report by agreeing to give 5 billion Saudi riyals three days after the date bin Nayef sent it, along with a note handwritten in Arabic that said: “I don’t mind,” signed by the late King Abdullah.

Former CIA officials stated that they were aware that bin Nayef had authority over secret counterterrorism accounts at that time. These were used to finance joint US-Saudi projects to combat terrorism.

John Brennan, a former director of the CIA, said: “The Interior Ministry was provided with a budget so they could build up capabilities, recruit personnel and develop intelligence service contacts to penetrate al-Qaeda… Abdullah’s view was that he had to be invested in the activities that MBN [bin Nayef] was leading. MBN was one of his favorites.”

He added: “During my work with Muhammad bin Nayef, he was not the type of people who might involve in corrupt activity or stealing money.”

If the allegations made by bin Salman’s allies suggesting bin Nayef stole money from intelligence accounts indicate anything, it is that the current Crown Prince is trying to frame one of his rivals. He used the card of corruption against him, as does every tyrant who wants to get rid of his opponents. He knows the effect such accusations on Saudi public opinion.

George Tenet, former director of the CIA, spoke well of bin Nayef when he took over the fight against terrorism in the Ministry of Interior in 2003. This was reported in his memoir, “At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA”, which was published in 2007. He wrote about him: “He is someone in whom we developed a great deal of trust and respect… Many of the successes in rolling up al-Qaeda in the kingdom are a result of his courageous efforts.”

Desperate attempts to undermine the reputation of the bin Nayef

High treason and corruption. Those charges are sufficient to destroy anyone’s reputation, even that of a hero, and these are the ones leveled against Prince Muhammad bin Nayef and Prince Ahmed Abdulaziz Al Saud, resulting in their arrests. The Wall Street Journal stated that royal guards wearing black clothes and masks arrested them from their homes in early 2020.

The Saudi authorities initially denied the arrests, but then the Kingdom acknowledged the detention of bin Nayef when the General Directorate of Prisons announced that the former Crown Prince had suffered a heart attack and had been transferred to intensive care. This was tweeted from the official Twitter account of the General Directorate of Prisons, before it was hastily removed.

It should be noted that the statement issued by the General Directorate of Prisons was the first official recognition of the detention of bin Nayef since the launch of the authorities’ recent campaign of retaliation against bin Salman’s rivals for the throne. These supposed rivals included a large number of prominent princes, especially bin Nayef and Ahmed bin Abdulaziz. The arrest of the two princes paved the way for Muhammad bin Salman to take over the throne.

Attempts to kill the prince through medical neglect

Prince Muhammad bin Nayef is now being subjected to a slow assassination attempt following his arrest. He is being subjected to medical neglect in prison.

Since 2015, Mohammed bin Salman has tried to gain power using many illegal means, including the exile and arrests of many opposition figures, while others were killed, if necessary. After years of conflict, the arena became ready for bin Salman to take the throne. This strengthened his control and shook the foundations of the House of Saud by eliminating critics and competitors, including members of the royal family, thus paving the way for the young teenage prince to assume power in a country so important to Muslims the world over.


The coup against the prince

What happened?

On the evening of 21 June 2017, His Highness Prince Muhammad bin Nayef Al Saud was still the Crown Prince, in line with the decision of the Saudi Allegiance Commission, after he received the most votes.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a royal decree summoning his Crown Prince, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, to the Al-Safa Palace in Mecca. This was where the princes would spend their holidays during the month of Ramadan, near the Kaaba. It is also where the Assembly meet to choose who will be the next Crown Prince.

The decree was followed by a call from the office of King Salman bin Abdulaziz urging him to attend, claiming that the meeting was something that could not be postponed. When bin Nayef reached the palace, his guards were prevented from entering King Salman’s office.

The king was not there to receive bin Nayef, neither was one of his representatives. Instead, bin Nayef found Saud Al-Qahtani, the advisor to Muhammad bin Salman, with Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of the so-called entertainment authority that bin Salman later established and one of his advisors. Both were bin Salman’s close friends.

This situation had been orchestrated from the start. Audio recordings had been collected of the members of the Allegiance Commission, in which they agreed to remove bin Nayef and appoint Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince instead. It was seen as very insulting to the members of the Allegiance Commission, who were subjected to pressure and coercion to make the recordings.

Al-Qahtani and Al-Sheikh spoke to bin Nayef sharply, using both threats and promises, to ensure bin Nayef would pass the role of Crown Prince to his teenage cousin, bin Salman.

Then the matter took a more brazen turn. Both Al-Qahtani and Al-Sheikh accused bin Nayef of communicating with Qatar, along with false allegations of financial corruption and other accusations. They bargained with him, saying that if he waived the mandate of the covenant in favour of his cousin, King Salman would pardon him.

Bin Nayef was left with little choice. If he refused the ultimatum, the kingdom would face damage to its reputation and a potentially bloody conflict with the teenage prince and his followers. Bin Nayef relinquishing his title, ceding it to Bin Salman until he could be restored to the position.

The decision of the Allegiance Commission

The members of the Allegiance Commission met under the pretext of a consultation on the resignation of Prince bin Nayef and the inauguration of bin Salman, but the truth was otherwise. It was a meeting to pledge allegiance to bin Salman, the Crown Prince, under pressure and coercion. Bin Salman was made Crown Prince with the approval of 31 of the 34 members of the Allegiance Commission.

Three members of the Commission resisted the pressure. They included Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the former Minister of Interior and the brother of King Salman, who completely rejected the decision and refused to participate in the humiliating proceedings.

Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz could not bear what happened on 21 June 2017. Only a few months later he deserted the kingdom, in November 2017. He was fortunate to have fled the kingdom before bin Salman launched a campaign against many other princes and leaders on the grounds of corruption, citing the seizure of public money.


The first crown prince from a generation of grandchildren

History of the mandate of the Covenant in the Kingdom

King Abdulaziz Al Saud recommended the transfer of power to his sons in order of age, beginning with the oldest. He had more than 60 children.

For the six decades after the death of the founding father, Abdulaziz Al Saud, the will of the founding king remained in place.

After his death, his eldest son became King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Prince Faisal bin Abdul Aziz took his place on 27 Jumada al-Akhira, 1384 (2 November, 1964). King Faisal became the most famous of the Al Saud, due to his decision to ban oil supplies to countries that supported Israel in the October War of 1973 and his support for the Palestinian cause.

His brother, King Khalid, took the throne after him, and after the death of King Khalid, the throne was handed to Crown Prince King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud from 1982 until his death in 2005, when his Crown Prince, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, became king.

Establishment of the Saudi Allegiance Commission

King Abdullah issued Royal Decree No. A/135 on 26 Ramadan, 1427, to establish what was known as the Saudi Allegiance Commission, so that choosing the king to pledge allegiance was smoother, making it easier to prevent disputes between members of the grandchildren’s generation.

The royal decree issued by King Abdullah stipulated that there should be 38 members of the Allegiance Commission, made up of the sons of King Abdulaziz who are still alive, and that a representative shall be appointed from among the children of each of those individuals who is dead or unable to perform his duties, provided that he is known for his experience, competence and good opinion.

King Abdullah also appointed two successors, one of his sons and one the son of his Crown Prince – who was at that time Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – and if a vacant seat should still arise after that, then the king chooses whomever he deems competent and righteous to take over the throne.

This decision was like a revolution that changed the system of transmission of power among the sons of King Abdulaziz.

Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died before he reached power in the kingdom, so the Allegiance Commission allowed for the first time the choice of Crown Prince after him. They chose Prince Nayef, one of the sons of King Abdulaziz and one of seven “Sudairians”, of whom King Fahd and the current king, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, were members.

The Sudairi are the children of the founding king from his wife Hessa bint Ahmed Al-Sudairy. They are: Fahd, Sultan, Abdul Rahman, Turki Al Thani, Nayef, Salman and Ahmed.

Prince Nayef did not stay long in the position mandated by the late King Abdullah, as he passed away on 26 Rajab 1433 (16 June 2012).

The Allegiance Commission met for the second time since its establishment to choose the Prince of Riyadh at the time, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to be the Crown Prince of King Abdullah. And the youngest son of King Abdulaziz, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was appointed as Crown Prince of Crown Prince Salman.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud passed away at the beginning of 2015. Then the kingdom began a new era. All successors preserved the covenant that the founding grandfather, King Abdulaziz Al Saud, left for them. But from here, the legacy was eroded, along with the kingdom’s reputation.

 His Highness Prince Muhammad bin Nayef wins the vote

King Salman became the king, and Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was appointed to be the Crown Prince, on 3 Rabi` al-Akher, 1436 (23 January 2015). But on 10 Rajab 1436 (29 April 2015) a royal order was issued to exempt Prince Muqrin from the mandate of the Covenant, at his own request.

The Allegiance Commission met and decided by a large majority to appoint Prince Muhammad bin Nayef as Crown Prince instead of Prince Muqrin. This was the beginning of a new era for the kingdom, in which the choice went to a member of the grandchildren’s generation instead of the generation of children of King Abdulaziz.

Furthermore, bin Nayef’s appointment surpassed some of the living sons of King Abdulaziz.

The ego of bin Salman

Things looked set to be good for the kingdom, which was developing according to the new political reality to preserve its affairs and its history, and forge ahead towards prosperity. But the soul’s desires killed the dream of change before it began.

The night of 21 June was a tragic night in the kingdom’s history.

A month before this date, the preparations for the coup this new era began, as a decision was issued by King Salman bin Abdulaziz to exempt Saad Al-Jabri and the right hand man of Prince Muhammad bin Nayef from his position as Minister of State and Adviser in the Saudi Council of Ministers after he assumed the position seven months earlier. This was done without the prior knowledge of bin Nayef.

Then, on 21 June, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a royal decree relieving bin Nayef from his position and anointing a teenage boy, Muhammad bin Salman, as Crown Prince.