Showing posts with label saudi news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label saudi news. Show all posts

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saudi News: Crown Prince Nayef has died

Saudi Crown Prince Nayef has died
Saudi Arabia said Saturday, June 16, 2012 that Crown Prince Nayef has died.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Crown Prince Nayef, the hard-line interior minister who spearheaded Saudi Arabia's fierce crackdown crushing al-Qaida's branch in the country after the 9/11 attacks in the United States and then rose to become next in line to the throne, has died. He was in his late 70s.

Nayef's death unexpectedly reopens the question of succession in this crucial U.S. ally and oil powerhouse for the second time in less than a year. The 88-year-old King Abdullah has now outlived two designated successors, despite ailments of his own. Now a new crown prince must be chosen from among his brothers and half-brothers, all the sons of Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdul-Aziz.

The figure believed most likely to be tapped as the new heir is Prince Salman, the current defense minister who previously served for decades in the powerful post of governor of Riyadh, the capital. The crown prince will be chosen by the Allegiance Council, an assembly of Abdul-Aziz's sons and some of his grandchildren.

A statement by the royal family said Nayef died Saturday in a hospital abroad. Saudi-funded pan-Arab TV station Al-Arabiya later confirmed he died in Geneva.

Nayef had been out of the country since late May, when he went on a trip that was described as a "personal vacation" that would include medical tests. He travelled abroad frequently in recent years for tests but authorities never reported what ailments he may have been suffering from.

Nayef had a reputation for being a hard-liner and a conservative. He was believed to be closer than many of his brothers to the powerful Wahhabi religious establishment that gives legitimacy to the royal family, and he at times worked to give a freer hand to the religious police who enforce strict social rules.

His elevation to crown prince in November 2011, after the death of his brother Sultan, had raised worries among liberals in the kingdom that, if he ever became king, he would halt or even roll back reforms that Abdullah had enacted.

Soon after becoming crown prince, Nayef vowed at a conference of clerics that Saudi Arabia would "never sway from and never compromise on" its adherence to the puritanical, ultraconservative Wahhabi doctrine. The ideology, he proclaimed "is the source of the kingdom's pride, success and progress."

Nayef had expressed some reservations about some of the reforms by Abdullah, who made incremental steps to bring more democracy to the country and increase women's rights. Nayef said he saw no need for elections in the kingdom or for women to sit on the Shura Council, an unelected advisory body to the king that is the closest thing to a parliament.

His top concern was security in the kingdom and maintaining a fierce bulwark against Shiite powerhouse, Iran, according to U.S. Embassy assessments of Nayef.

"A firm authoritarian at heart," was the description of Nayef in a 2009 Embassy report on him, leaked by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

"He harbors anti-Shia biases and his worldview is colored by deep suspicion of Iran," it said. "Nayef promotes a vision for Saudi society under the slogan of `intellectual security,' which he advocates as needed to `purge aberrant ideas'" and combat extremism, it added, noting that his was in contrast to Abdullah's strategy emphasizing "dialogue, tolerance of differences, and knowledge-based education that is objectionable to many conservatives."

Nayef, who was interior minister in charge of internal security forces since 1975, built up his power in the kingdom though his fierce crackdown against al-Qaida's branch in the country following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and a broader campaign to prevent the growth of Islamic militancy among Saudis.

The 9/11 attacks at first strained ties between the two allies. For months, the kingdom refused to acknowledge any of its citizens were involved in the suicide airline bombings, until finally Nayef became the first Saudi official to publicly confirm that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, in a February 2002 interview with The Associated Press.

In November 2002, Nayef told the Arabic-language Kuwaiti daily Assyasah that Jews were behind the Sept. 11 attacks because they have benefited from subsequent criticism of Islam and Arabs. Nayef came under heavy criticism in the U.S., especially because he was the man in charge of Saudi investigations into the attack. Criticism grew in the United States that the Saudis were not doing enough to stem extremism in their country or combat al-Qaida.

In mid-2003, Islamic militants struck inside the kingdom, targeting three residential expatriate compounds - the first of a string of assaults that later hit government buildings, the U.S. consulate in Jiddah and the perimeter of the world's largest oil processing facility in Abqaiq. Al-Qaida's branch in the country announced its aim to overthrow Al Saud royal family.

The attacks galvanized the government into serious action against the militants, an effort spearheaded by Nayef. Over the next years, dozens of attacks were foiled, hundreds of militants were rounded up and killed.

By 2008, it was believed that al-Qaida's branch was largely broken in the country. Militant leaders who survived or were not jailed largely fled to Yemen, where they joined Yemeni militants in reviving al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Nayef took a leading role in combatting the branch in Yemen as well. In 2009, al-Qaida militants attempted to assassinate his son, Prince Muhammad, who is deputy interior minister and the commander of counterterrorism operations: A suicide bomber posing as a repentant militant blew himself up in the same room as the prince but failed to kill him.

The cooperation against al-Qaida both in the kingdom and in Yemen significantly boosted ties with the United States.

The anti-militant campaign also boosted Nayef's ties to the religious establishment, which he saw as a major tool in keeping stability and preventing the spread of violent al-Qaida-style "jihadi" theology. The Wahhabi ideology that is the official law in Saudi Arabia is deeply conservative - including strict segregation of the sexes, capital punishments like beheadings and enforced prayer times - but it also advocates against al-Qaida's calls for holy war against leaders seen as infidels.

Nayef's Interior Ministry allied with clerics in a "rehabilitation" program for detained militants, who went through intensive courses with clerics in "correct" Islam to sway them away from violence. The program brought praise from the United States.

Nayef never clashed with Abdullah over reforms or made attempts to stop them - such a step would be unthinkable in the tight-knit royal family, whose members work hard to keep differences under wraps and ultimately defer to the king. But Nayef was long seen as more favorable to the Wahhabi establishment. In 2009, Nayef promptly shut down a film festival in the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, apparently because of conservatives' worry about the possibility of gender mixing in theaters and a general distaste toward film as immoral.

Nayef, a soft-spoken, stocky man of medium build, was born in 1933, the 23rd son of Abdul-Aziz, the family patriarch who founded the kingdom in 1932 and had dozens of sons by various wives.

Nayef was one of the five surviving members of the Sudairi seven, sons of Abdul-Aziz from his wife Hussa bint Ahmad Sudairi who, for decades, have held influential posts. That made him a half-brother of King Abdullah. Before being appointed interior minister, he held the posts of Riyadh governor, deputy minister of interior and minister of state for internal affairs.

Nayef has 10 children from several wives.

News by AP

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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saudi authorities on the alert at the time of Hajj

Mecca, Saudi Arabia
AFP - More than two million Muslims begin Friday rites of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the largest human gathering in the world to Saudi Arabia poses a formidable logistical challenge. "We are mobilizing all possible means to prevent harm (to security) of any pilgrim or a group of pilgrims," ​​said Tuesday the new Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz in Mecca, the holy city of the first Islam located in western Saudi kingdom. Prince Nayef, the Interior Minister and Chairman of the High Commission of the pilgrimage, attended a parade of the security forces and civil defense, which mobilize up to 100,000 men to ensure the smooth running of the hajj. Special Forces units, including riot police and the fight against terrorism, supported by helicopters, simulated assistance interventions.

The highlight of the pilgrimage will take place Saturday when the faithful converge on Mount Arafat near Mecca. Eid Al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice marking the end of hajj, will be celebrated Sunday. Safety is the major concern of the Saudis who, wishing the keepers of the first Holy Places of Islam, Mecca and Medina, make sure to avoid any incident that may affect the huge gathering. Especially since the hajj this year coincides with the Arab Spring, who won the leadership of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. "My joy knows no bounds, is the first time that I make the pilgrimage after the liberation of my country," said Adel Abu Kasseh, a pilgrim Libya. "What happens in some Arab brothers is an internal matter," said Prince Nayef, however, warned that Riyadh would act with determination against any potential problems. "The kingdom is prepared for any situation whatsoever."

The case of an alleged Iranian plot against the Saudi ambassador to Washington, revealed by the United States, is also present in the mind. "The Iranians have always maintained their respect for the hajj," said Prince Nayef. The 97,000 Iranian pilgrims will "focus on Islamic unity," assured the representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the pilgrimage, Hojatoleslam Ali Asghar Ghazi, hoping a hajj "in the peace and spirituality." The message seems to have been of course. "We do not have problems during the hajj," said Khadija, an Iranian 35. Have consistently opposed violence since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Iranian pilgrims to Saudi forces accused of turning the pilgrimage political forum against Israel, anti-American and hostile to the Saudi regime.

The most serious clashes had 402 dead, including 275 Iranians, in 1987, causing a break of several years of relations between Riyadh and Tehran. The Mufti of the Kingdom, Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, described as "fishing" any attempt to disturb the hajj for "political reasons". The challenges are logistical, authorities, using their oil wealth, continue to improve over the years the infrastructure in the holy places. A new extension of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, at a cost of $ 10.6 billion, was launched earlier this year to allow the site to accommodate the same time as two million faithful.

A subway opened in 2010 between Mina, Muzdalifah and Mount Arafat 'now runs at full capacity, "said Minister of Municipal Affairs, Prince Mansour bin Mitaab, betting on the modern means of transportation to help ease traffic congestion , a permanent headache during the hajj.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saudi: Nayef named Crown Prince a week after the death of his brother

prince nayef bin abdul aziz
Prince Nayef, Saudi Arabia
AFP - The Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, 78, was appointed Thursday by a decree of the royal cabinet of the new crown prince oil rich kingdom, one week after the death of his brother, Prince Sultan. Prince Nayef was also confirmed in his post as interior minister and appointed Deputy Prime Minister, becoming the first in the order of succession in the country. According to the decree issued by state television, the king decided to appoint "Prince Nayef Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior."

Prince Nayef, who was second deputy prime minister, succeeds Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, whose death occurred last Friday in the United States and was buried Tuesday in Riyadh. King Abdullah briefed the "Council of allegiance", a small board of the ruling family of Al Saud, of its decision and asked its members, numbering 35, to "pledge allegiance to Prince Nayef," now heir the throne, it is written in the order.

Minister of Interior for nearly four decades, it has emerged as a bastion of Al-Saud dynasty, overseeing the fight against al Qaeda but also raging against all forms of opposition. The "Council of allegiance" was created as a result of a reform of the system introduced in 2006 in succession to ensure a peaceful transition of power in this ultra-conservative Gulf monarchy, the first world oil power.

The decree did not mention the post of defense minister, left vacant after the death of Crown Prince disappeared. He had held this position since 1962 and oversaw the modernization of the armed forces of the kingdom, very concerned about its stability. An appointment to head the Defense Ministry is awaited with interest by politicians who believe that the eventual choice to this strategic position of a prince of the third generation of Al-Saud would be an indicator of a desire for rejuvenation of direction until captured by the seventies or eighties son of the founder of the kingdom, King Ibn Saud. Thus, King Abdullah, 87, had left a hospital Saturday in Riyadh after back surgery that had been to "correct a stabilizing ligament laxity around the third vertebra," the day of the death of Prince Sultan.

The king had already taken place in November 2010 in New York for a herniated disc, complicated by a hematoma, and then underwent a second operation in early December. The U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, came Thursday in Riyadh at the head of a major civil and military delegation to offer condolences of the United States after the death of Prince Sultan, left in the evening the Saudi capital without meeting with King Abdullah , it was U.S. source said. By entering Tuesday's funeral the Crown Prince, King Abdullah appeared tired: he wore a medical mask and asked sitting on a chair while the prayer for the dead is traditionally stood before the remains of the deceased.

Prince Nayef was quoted by the official SPA news agency, then said he tried in vain to dissuade the king to attend the funeral "out of concern for his health." "But when you know the place occupied by Sultan home, we understand" his insistence to attend, he said.