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.