WASHINGTON – A prominent Saudi prince, who is said to want King Salman bin Abdulaziz replaced, refused to meet recently with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, signaling a serious breach in the Saudi royal family and the potential for civil war, a Middle East expert has told G2 Bulletin.
Sources previously have told G2 Bulletin that the Saudi kingdom is on the verge of an internal rupture, a latent development in the so-called Arab Spring that has led to violent changes in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain.
The recent Saudi execution of the prominent Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr has further inflamed relations with Shiite Iran. Massive demonstrations have taken place not only in Iran but in Saudi Arabia among its Shiite minority, which lives mainly in the country’s oil-producing Qatif region.
The Middle East source, a Shiite who insisted on anonymity, said his contacts in Saudi Arabia said the Chinese leader didn’t meet with Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef.
However, Xi did meet with Nayef’s deputy, Mohammad bin Salman, the son of King Salman who is said to have ambitions of toppling Nayef and replacing him as the heir apparent.
The open hostility within the Saudi royal family has emerged since the revelation of the king’s deteriorating health.
The G2 Bulletin source attributed the failed meeting with Nayef to the internal dissensions and rivalries between Nayef and Salman. The outbreak of hostility between two crown princes comes as rumors continue to spread of a possible coup to topple the king and his son in protest of Saudi foreign policy that is pushing the country toward bankruptcy.
The source said Nayef has been holding secret talks with the country’s tribal leaders to heighten internal dissension against Prince Salman.
The source said Nayef believes he is entitled to the throne, but his effort to undermine Prince Salman and has been opposed by other princes.
Nayef had been made heir apparent by the now-deceased King Abdullah. After Abdullah died, however, King Salman put his son in the position of successor.
A source in the royal family, who goes by the name Mujahid, recently tweeted that Nayef is so fearful for his life that he varies his daily activities, frequently changes his team of bodyguards and rarely stays in his palaces.
As the interior minister, he is said to be eavesdropping on phone calls of the ruling family members, according to Mujahid.