Amid Qatari crisis, Saudi Arabia king appoints his son as crown prince of kingdom

Mohammed bin Salman, the 31-year-old crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Srinagar: As the economic blockade of Qatar peninsular nation continues, the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman, has appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as heir, in a major reshuffle announced on Wednesday.

A royal decree removed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a 57-year-old nephew of the king, as next-in-line to the throne and replaced him with Mohammed bin Salman, 31, who was previously the deputy crown prince.

In a major crisis facing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Saudi led block which includes Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates snapped all diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar for allegedly “aiding fundamentalists”.

According to the official Saudi Press Agency, the newly-announced crown prince was also named deputy prime minister and maintained his post as defence minister.

The former crown prince was also fired from his post as interior minister, the decree added.

Saudi Arabia’s Allegiance Council voted 34 to 31 in favour of the changes, according to the state-owned al-Arabiya channel.

Some royal observers had long suspected Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power under his father’s reign might also accelerate his ascension to the throne.

The young prince was little known to Saudis and outsiders before Salman became king in January 2015.

He had previously been in charge of his father’s royal court when Salman was the crown prince.

The Saudi king called for a public pledging of allegiance to the new crown prince early on Wednesday, the channel said, and Mohammed bin Nayef promptly vowed his loyalty after the decree.

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