The much heralded generation change in Saudi Arabia moved a step closer today as King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud appointed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef al-Saud as his crown prince, replacing Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.
Prince Mohammed bin Nayef had previously been deputy crown prince and, according to the succession, was to become king following Prince Muqrin.
King Salmans decision indicates three key things.
The first and most important is that it has brought the generation jump forward by one reign, as without a King Muqrin, King Salman will be the last of King Abdulaziz al-Sauds sons to rule Saudi Arabia. The succession now dictates that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef al-Saud will be the next king.
The second is that it has set the precedent that the king is prepared to change his successor. With his own son Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud now appointed as deputy crown prince, King Salmans move could be interpreted by some as paving the way for his sons to have even more control over the kingdom in the future.
Thirdly, it demonstrates a clear break from the reign of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud who, when appointing Prince Muqrin as deputy crown prince and effective crown prince in waiting, said that his decision could not be reversed.