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TENSIONS within the Saudi royal family continued to escalate yesterday amid reports that King Salman is seeking to remove his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince of the despotic Gulf state.
Differences over national and international issues, particularly Israel and Palestine, lie behind the royal rift. The king has traditionally backed the Palestinian cause, but the crown prince is known to favour developing relations with Israel.
King Salman has blocked the sale of 5 per cent of the Saudi state oil company Aramco, a deal which was central to Prince Mohammed’s plans for the kingdom to diversify its economy and become less reliant on oil revenue.
The king’s cancellation of the “Vision 2030” project has exposed deep divisions in the Saudi ruling class over the country’s future.
Prince Mohammed is seen as a central figure in the Saudi-led coalition’s three-year bombing campaign in Yemen, which has claimed at least 10,000 lives.
Global condemnation followed a recent attack on a school bus that killed at least 40 children. The United Nations launched a war crimes investigation and there were calls for the international community to stop providing arms to Saudi Arabia.
Other reports suggest that King Salman’s brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz is considering going into self-imposed exile after criticising the war on Yemen earlier this week.
Speaking outside his London home, the prince told protesters not to blame the entire Saudi royal family for the devastation in the Middle East’s poorest country.
“There are certain individuals who are responsible. Don’t blame anyone else,” he said.
When pressed on who was to blame, he pointed the finger at “the king and the crown prince and others in the state,” adding: “In Yemen and elsewhere, our hope is that the war ends today before tomorrow.”
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