If King Abdullah dies, the Saudi succession will go smoothly, with Prince Nayif most likely becoming crown prince after current Crown Prince Sultan assumes the throne. Nayif is a conservative, which does not bode well for reform, although King Abdullah, who is a reformer (on a Saudi scale), also had a reputation as a conservative. The succession struggle will then focus on Nayif’s potential crown prince. The most likely candidates are King Abdullah’s son, Prince Mit’ib, and the son of King Faysal, Prince Khalid Al Faysal. Prince Salman, a full brother of Crown Prince Sultan, is a less likely candidate, although still a contender. Although every ruler brings his own nuance, the West can be assured that Saudi Arabia will experience no major upheavals as a result of a succession to the throne.
“King Abdullah’s Illness and the Saudi Succession,” Jerusalem Issue Briefs, December 8, 2010.