The major French daily Le Figaro on Thursday published a bombshell story which reports the Saudi royal family is actively considering a replacement to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) as next in line to succeed his father King Salman as the kingdom finds itself under the greatest international pressure and scrutiny it's faced in its modern history over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — widely believed to have been killed on orders of MbS himself.
The Li Figaro report's unnamed diplomatic source says the Allegiance Council, which is historically the body responsible for approving the order of succession to the throne, is currently meeting in secret (translation from the French):
For several days, the Allegiance Council for the ruling Saudi family is meeting in the utmost discretion, says a diplomatic source to Le Figaro in Paris. The information has been confirmed by a Saudi Arabian contacted in Riyadh. Composed of a delegate representing each of the clans — at least seven — of the royal family, this body, responsible for inheritance problems, examines the situation created by the disappearance, still unresolved, more than a fortnight ago, of the journalist dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The report in France's oldest top three national newspapers further suggests the ruling family is seeking to replace the 33-year old MbS with his much less ambitious and more predictable brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman.
Image source: AP file photo
The council was already seen as having broken the customary rules of succession last year when it appointed MbS as the new crown prince over next-in-line to the throne Mohammed bin Nayef; however, the council's authority has tended to be seen as a rubber stamp on already decided succession by the most powerful figures within the ruling family.
The Le Figaro report further cited a Saudi source who explained the transition wouldn't necessarily be immediate, but that Khalid would gradually replace his brother.