Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, the heir apparent to the throne, Nayef bin Abdulaziz passed away on Saturday, June 16, 2012, while abroad for medical treatment. The Crown Prince served as Deputy Prime Minister (Oct 2011-Jun 2012) and Minister of the Interior (1975-2012). Nayef, a son of the Kingdom’s founder King Abdulaziz bin Saud, was named as the man next in line to be Saudi Arabia’s monarch following the death of Crown Prince Sultan last October. He was designated Second Deputy Prime Minister in March 2009 to provide leadership in the Kingdom, during overseas travels of the King and due to the incapacitation of Crown Prince Sultan. Nayef was named Crown Prince on October 27, 2011, five days after the death of Crown Prince Sultan.
The passing of Crown Prince Nayef set in motion a transition within the senior levels of the ruling family. A Crown Prince to succeed Nayef as heir apparent was announced about one hour ago. As expected by many “Saudi watchers” Prince Salman has been designated as the Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister and retains his position as Minister of Defense. Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the current Deputy Minister of Interior, will be elevated to Minister of the Interior, according to a Royal Court statement published by the Saudi Press Agency this morning.
The leadership transition was the focus of a series of exclusive interviews conducted by SUSRIS since news of Crown Prince Nayef’s passing on Saturday. We are pleased to share the perspectives of three distinguished specialists on Saudi affairs who have regularly provided their insights to you through these pages. You will hear from Professor F. Gregory Gause, professor of political science at the University of Vermont and author of the 2012 Council on Foreign Relations Special Report “Saudi Arabia in the New Middle East”; Thomas Lippman, newsman, scholar, and author who recently published, “Saudi Arabia on the Edge: The Uncertain Future of an American Ally”; and Dr. Theodore Karasik, Director of Research and Development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) in Dubai, UAE and Beirut, Lebanon.
NOTE: These SUSRIS exclusive interviews were conducted prior to today’s announcement that Prince Salman was named Crown Prince and Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz was named Interior Minister and their remarks should be taken in that context.
We continue with Thomas Lippman.
Transition in the Kingdom: A Conversation with Thomas Lippman
[SUSRIS] Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz passed away on Saturday, June 16, after serving as Deputy Prime Minister and heir apparent since last October when long-serving Crown Prince Sultan died. It is widely assumed that Prince Salman, who followed Sultan as Defense Minister will be the next heir apparent. What are the concerns and considerations for Saudi watchers during a transition such as this one?
Thomas W. Lippman’s career in journalism at the Washington Post included four years as the Washington Post’s Middle East bureau chief, three years as the Post’s oil and energy reporter and a decade as the newspaper’s national security and diplomatic correspondent, he traveled extensively to Saudi Arabia. He is the author of “Arabian Knight: Colonel Bill Eddy USMC and the Rise of American Power in the Middle East,” “Inside the Mirage: America’s Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia,” ” Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy,” ” Understanding Islam, and Egypt After Nasser”. A writer and journalist specializing in U.S. foreign policy and Middle Eastern affairs, he lives in Washington, DC.
About “Saudi Arabia on the Edge”
SAUDI ARABIA ON THE EDGE
The Uncertain Future of an American Ally
BY THOMAS W. LIPPMAN
Of all the countries in the world that are vital to the strategic and economic interests of the United States, Saudi Arabia is the least understood by the American people. Saudi Arabia’s unique place in Islam makes it indispensable to a constructive relationship between the non- Muslim West and the Muslim world. For all its wealth, the country faces daunting challenges that it lacks the tools to meet: a restless and young population, a new generation of educated women demanding opportunities in a closed society, political stagnation under an octogenarian leadership, religious extremism and intellectual backwardness, social division, chronic unemployment, shortages of food and water, and troublesome neighbors.
Today’s Saudi people, far better informed than all previous generations, are looking for new political institutions that will enable them to be heard, but these aspirations conflict with the kingdom’s strict traditions and with the House of Saud’s determination to retain all true power. Meanwhile, the country wishes to remain under the protection of American security but still clings to a system that is antithetical to American values.
Basing his work on extensive interviews and field research conducted in the kingdom from 2008 through 2011 under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations, Thomas W. Lippman dissects this central Saudi paradox for American readers, including diplomats, policymakers, scholars, and students of foreign policy.
- An Intriguing Signal From the Saudi Crown Prince – Thomas L. Friedman – NYTimes – Feb 17, 2002
- U.S. envoy: Arab peace initiative will be part of Obama policy – Haaretz.com
- Khartoum Resolution – 1967 Arab League – The Three Noes – CFR Essential Documents
- Mideast Turmoil: Arab League; Arabs Approve an Offer to Israel With Conditions It Has Rejected – NY Times – Mar 29, 2002
- Arab states unanimously approve Saudi peace initiative – Haaretz.com – Mar 28, 2007
- Impasse in Israel: Diplomacy — U.S. Is Talking Up Plan From Saudis on Mideast
More on SUSRIS with Thomas Lippman:
- Arab Peace Initiative Turns Ten: A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS Exclusive Interview – April 4, 2012
- Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Policy – Lippman – SUSRIS – Aug 5, 2011
- The Challenge of Change in Saudi Arabia: A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS – March 2, 2011
- A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS – Sep 10, 2010
- Business Forum Perspectives – Lippman – SUSRIS Exclusive Interview – Apr 28, 2010
- Middle East Peace and the U.S.-Saudi Relationship: A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS Exclusive Interview – March 2, 2009
- Exclusive – Leadership Transitions: A Conversation With Thomas Lippman – January 9, 2009
- Exclusive – Arabian Knight: Colonel Bill Eddy USMC and the Rise of American Power in the Middle East – A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – Sep 15, 2008
- Exclusive – The Proud Heritage of Aramco: A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS Interview – May 30, 2008
- “Good Morning, Mr. President” Thomas Lippman’s Briefing for POTUS – SUSRIS IOI – January 11, 2008
- Exclusive – Political and Economic Developments in Saudi-US Relations – A Conversation With Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS Interview – Sep 29, 2007
- Discovery! The Search for Arabian Oil – Wallace Stegner – Foreword by Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS IOI – Sep 18, 2007
- Exclusive – Determined to Remain Friends – A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – Exclusive – SUSRIS Interview – Aug 7, 2007
- A New Regional Leadership – Thomas W. Lippman – SUSRIS IOI – May 10, 2007
- Exclusive – Region in Crisis: Fine Lines and Consequences – A Conversation with Thomas W. Lippman – SUSRIS Interview – Aug 2, 2006
- Exclusive – Crawford Summit Perspective: A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS Interview – May 9, 2005
- Exclusive – Insight on the Kingdom from the Author of Inside the Mirage — A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – Part One – SUSRIS Interview – March 30, 2005
- Exclusive – Insight on the Kingdom from the Author of Inside the Mirage — A Conversation with Thomas Lippman – Part Two – SUSRIS Interview – Apr 18, 2005
- Exclusive – U.S.-Saudi Relations: A Glass Half Empty, Or Half Full? – An Interview With Thomas Lippman – SUSRIS Interview – Aug 28, 2004
- Thomas Lippman – “Inside The Mirage” – US-Saudi Relations — SAIS Panel – SUSRIS IOI – Dec 16, 2003