Saudi Crown Prince Nayef Dead

The Middle Eastern monarchy of Saudi Arabia is a long-time ally of the United States in the war on terror. That nation is led by an 89-year old king, and with the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, has no clear line of succession should the king die.

Nayef was in the U.S. for routine medical tests in March at the Cleveland Clinic, and the Huffington Post reports he had been out of the country since May on a personal trip that included medical tests, though what he suffered from has not been made public.

Nayef was a half brother to King Abdullah.

“With deep sorrow and grief… King Abdullah mourns his brother… Crown Prince Nayef who passed to the mercy of God on Saturday outside the kingdom,” said a royal court statement carried by state media.

Reuters reported that Nayef died in Geneva, where the Saudi prince was being treated for unknown ailments. He was believed to be 78, leaving behind several wives and 10 sons.

Nayef, liked Abdullah, are sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, Abdulaziz ibn Saud, who established the kingdom in 1935. Abdulaziz ibn Saud had nearly 40 sons and the king’s successor is likely to be chosen from that pool.

The Huffington Post reports that Prince Salman, the current defense minister, is most likely to be named the new crown prince. The process of selection involves the Allegiance Council, an assembly of Abdul-Aziz’s sons and some of his grandchildren, and also the king himself.

Though most of Abuduaziz’s sons are now older, the selection process opens the possibility of a younger member, one of the founder’s grandsons, to be elevated in position, but not to crown prince. Under Saudi law, the line of sons must be exhausted before moving on a generation.

Reuters also reports that while the king is in fairly good health, a U.S. cable released by Wikileaks claimed that he only works a few hours a day, meaning that the new Saudi crown prince will likely carry a great deal of influence.

(Photo via Associated Press)