The government of Saudi Arabia has strenuously denied that King Salman bin Abdulaziz plans to abdicate and pass the throne along to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but on Thursday, the UK Daily Mail quoted a source “close to the royal family” who insisted the king will vacate his throne next week.
According to this source, the 81-year-old king intends to “continue only as a ceremonial figurehead” while “handing over official leadership of the country to his son.”
The crown prince, commonly referred to by his initials “MBS,” is just 32 years old. He already holds numerous posts in Saudi Arabia and is arguably the most powerful individual in the country’s relatively short history, so one might think the Daily Mail report is teasing more of an extension of the current power shift than a formal abdication, but the source was quite adamant that MBS will be sitting on the throne by the end of the week.
“Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week. King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title ‘Custodian of the Holy Shrines,’” the source insisted, referring to the honorary protectorate of Mecca and Medina.
This abdication strategy is supposed to secure MBS in power and allow him to concentrate on Saudi Arabia’s rapidly thawing cold war against Iran, which will include teaming up with Israel to take out Hezbollah in Lebanon:
“MBS is convinced that he has to hit Iran and Hezbollah,” he said. “Contrary to the advice of the royal family elders, that’s MBS’s next target. Hence why the ruler of Kuwait privately calls him ‘The Raging Bull.’”
“MBS’s plan is to start the fire in Lebanon, but he’s hoping to count on Israeli military backing. He has already promised Israel billions of dollars in direct financial aid if they agree.”
“MBS can not confront Hezbollah in Lebanon without Israel. Plan B is to fight Hezbollah in Syria,” said the source.
The Times of Israel notes that the Daily Mail report “could not be independently confirmed,” and there was “no immediate reaction from Riyadh.”
TOI notes in passing that some suspect King Salman is suffering from dementia, which could help to explain why the monarchy might be quietly planning for an early transfer of power to the crown prince while denying any such plans are under consideration.
On the other hand, TOI points out that the Israelis are not enthusiastic about the prospect of fighting another war with Hezbollah, which has a penchant for showing Israeli territory with poorly-aimed missiles while hiding its weapons in civilian areas so it can blame collateral deaths on the Israelis.
Also, there is no story Iran and its allies want to tell right now more than “Saudis paid off Israel to beat up Shiite Muslims.” The Daily Mail’s source is laying out a strategy for Saudi Arabia that would be exactly what the Iranians have been furiously accusing the Saudis of planning for weeks now.
The possibility of Saudi-Israeli cooperation against the Iranian axis is a topic of much speculation lately, but MBS promising Israel “billions of dollars in direct financial aid” if they commence bombing Hezbollah would be playing right into Iran’s hands politically.