November 03, 2011

Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince Nayef: anti al Qaeda, pro-Wahabbi

Following the death of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan on Oct 22, King Abdullah appointed Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Interior Minister since 1975, as Crown Prince and next in line to the throne.

Prince Nayef is best known in the US for spear heading the crack down on al Qaeda that drove many terrorists to find refuge in Yemen. The ramped up Saudi CT posture after 2003 included mass arrests (including detention without trial and torture), a multi-pronged jihaddi rehabilitation program, increased security measures including a border fence with Yemen. A media campaign designed to shame al Qaeda included televised condemnations from the terrorists' families that increased social pressure.

Nayef's successes against AQ prompted Yemen's AQAP to target him for assassination during a feigned surrender in Aug 09. Nayef suffered only light injuries from a PETN bomb designed by Ibrahim al Asiri (still at large in Yemen), whose brother was the suicide bomber.

Nayef is also known as a "conservative," and in Saudi Arabia that means thwarting popular efforts toward civil rights and governmental accountability. Nayef is a strong supporter of the supremacist, takfiri Wahabbi doctrine and infrastructure. Domestically he undercut efforts at incremental reforms, including women driving or voting, as well as the continued repression of Saudi Shia's demands for equal rights.

Nayef served as the de facto head of Saudi Arabia when both the King and Prince Sultan faced medical issues over the last years. Nayef signed off on the deployment of the Saudi military to Bahrain to augment efforts the violent crack down on Bahrain's Arab Spring (and its Shia majority.)

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia overtly committed substantial war crimes during the Saada War, which was fought near the Yemen/Saudi border. The kingdom provided billions of dollars to President Saleh, and Saudi fighter jets conducted months of air strikes in Yemen, aimed at the annihilation of the Shia Houthi rebels.

These well documented of Saudi violations of international law include indiscriminately bombing villages and civilian infrastructure, denying border passage for humanitarian aid and returning Yemeni refugees to the war zone (refouling).

Wikileaks cables reveals that the Saudis were well aware that Saudi airstrikes in Yemen caused substantial civilian fatalities, and successfully leveraged the bombing of a Yemeni hospital and other mistakes to obtain satellite imagery from the US. The Saudi's aggressive posture toward the Houthis was largely fueled by fear of its own repressed Shia minority.

Earlier this year, Nayef and his son assumed control over Saudi Arabia's patronage network in Yemen, through which the kingdom distributes billions in direct payments to Yemeni Sheikhs, clerics and politicians as well as Wahabbi institutes and organizations.

TFE: Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud has appointed Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud as the new crown prince, the Royal Court said in a statement issued last Friday, signaling an orderly process of future succession in the world's largest oil exporter.

The selection of 78-year-old Prince Nayef to succeed Prince Sultan as the new crown prince of Saudi Arabia ushers in the beginning of what promises to be a season of big changes at the top of the royal family and cabinet, all set in the midst of the Arab awakening. Newly appointed Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has been minister of the interior since 1975...

Earlier this year Nayef publicly admonished a member of the mainly consultative Shura Council who had called for a review of the ban on women driving.

"This means less for Saudi Arabia's external relations than it does internally because a lot of people there, especially women, are apprehensive that Nayef will close back down some of the space that Abdullah has opened up around individual citizens," said Thomas Lippman, a Saudi Arabia specialist at the Middle East Institute in Washington...

Nayef has strong support among Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi clerics. But he is said to have little sympathy for political Islamist groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood, which he views as a threat to the ruling family's grip on power...In the run-up to Saudi Arabia's 2005 municipal elections, it was Nayef who decided that women should not be allowed to vote. Scholars say he may pursue policies that expand his base of support within security services and Islamist groups.


By Jane at 09:15 AM | Comments |