Saudi Arabia: How MBS deposed his cousin Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Inside the rise of Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman

By Amélie Zaccour
Posted on Thursday, 11 February 2021 20:52

Mohammed bin Salman, (MBS) then newly appointed as crown prince, left, kisses the hand of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef at a royal palace in Mecca, Saudi Arabia June 2017. (Al-Ekhbariya via AP, File)

Touted as Saudi Arabia’s “prince of counterterrorism”, Mohammed bin Nayef was named crown prince in 2015. His young cousin, Mohammed bin Salman, devised a way to strip him of his title and oust him from the throne. In the fourth part of our series, we look at the events that foreshadowed his cousin's fall.

This is part 4 of a 6-part series.

It took Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) two years to oust his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef (MBN), from Saudi Arabia’s throne. His plan was not a foregone conclusion. In 2015, MBS’s 30 years of age could not hold a candle to his cousin’s 56. Despite having no previous military experience, Prince Mohammed had just been appointed defence minister, whereas Nayef, serving as interior minister since 2012, had an accomplished career in the security and intelligence field.

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