Saudi Arabia has named a new crown prince: the tough-talking interior minister who is known for cracking down on Islamic militants and resisting moves toward greater openness in the ultraconservative kingdom. Late yesterday, Saudi state TV announced the naming of Prince Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz Al Saud, 78, as heir to the Saudi throne following the death of the previous second in line, Crown Prince Sultan, last week.
Nayef would assume the throne upon the death of King Abdullah, 87, who is recovering from his third operation to treat back problems in less than a year. Traditionally, the king chooses his heir. But Prince Nayef was chosen by Allegiance Council, a 37-member body composed of his brothers and cousins. Abdullah created the council as part of his reforms and gave it a mandate to choose the heir. Nayef was also named vice prime minister and will also keep his job as interior minister.