Saudi Arabia’s royal family members have started agitating against Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s ascension to the throne, following international backlash on the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Reuters reported, citing sources.
Khashoggi entered the building on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife. He was not seen since.
Turkish media have reported Khashoggi was killed and dismembered based on recordings from the consulate. They say he died at the hands of a 15-member assassination squad from Saudi Arabia.
Senior US officials have hinted to Saudi advisors of throwing their weight behind Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, a deputy interior minister for nearly 40 years as a successor, according to Saudi sources cited in the report.
While MBS’s father is still alive, scores of princes and cousins will not act on their desire to see a change in the line to the throne.
They recognise the king is unlikely to turn against his favourite son, the report added. Discussions are underway for Prince Ahmed to ascend later, who has the full support of family members, the security apparatus, and some Western powers.
Meanwhile, Saudi King and MBS are shielding themselves from the Khashoggi murder scandal by using a roadmap drawn up by the US secretary of state, a senior Saudi source has told Middle East Eye.
Mike Pompeo delivered the plan in person during a meeting with Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, last month in Riyadh, said the source, who is familiar with Pompeo’s talks with the Saudi leaders.
The plan includes an option to pin the Saudi journalist’s murder on an innocent member of the ruling al-Saud family in order to insulate those at the very top, the source told MEE.
That person has not yet been chosen, the source said, and Saudi leaders are reserving the use of that plan in case the pressure on bin Salman, also known as MBS, becomes too much.
“We would not be surprised if that happens,” the source told MEE.
The US State Department denied the Saudi source’s allegations, and called them “a complete misrepresentation of the secretary’s diplomatic mission to Saudi Arabia”.
“We’ve spoken publicly about our goals: to impress upon Saudi leadership the seriousness to which the United States government attaches to a prompt and complete accounting of the murder of Jamal Kashoggi,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told MEE.
Moreover, US President Donald Trump is facing increasing pressure to take tougher measures against Saudi Arabia before the expected release of an official report into the murder of Khashoggi.
Trump told reporters on Saturday that a detailed report including information about who was responsible for last month’s murder of the Washington Post columnist inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, would be released “probably on Monday or Tuesday”.
According to US media reports, the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, ordered Khashoggi’s killing.
Trump has called the reports “premature” saying he’s not convinced that the crown prince, also known as MBS, was directly responsible for the October 2 slaying of the writer.