Prince Nayef (the favored pick) was named Saudi crown prince last week. As previously discussed in an earlier posting, Crown Prince Nayef is close to the Wahhabi clerical establishment and not likely to be open to the reforms being promoted by the current Arab Spring.
As Prince Nayef previously served as defense minister (since 1975) it will be exciting to see how he deals with potential uprisings associated with the Arab Spring, as well as the heated tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
An article in the Arab News dated Nov.2, notes that those in Saudi Arabia are ruling out possible protests as the bond between the leadership and the people remains a close one. Additionally, Saudis “enjoy economic as well as social security and stability” within the current regime.
There are significant challenges facing the Crown Prince. Notably, his age, and the old and ailing members of the Royal family. Most of the Saudi population is young, and those within the country and abroad feel that the generational difference between the Prince and his people have led him to be out of touch with what the population wants (more political freedoms and reforms). Those in the region, especially those governments under going transformations resulting from the Arab Spring, also see Saudi Arabia as out of sync and worry that appointing a conservative Prince, adverse to change and modernization will be an impediment for the country.