Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has appointed his son Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah to the post of deputy foreign minister. Prince Abdul Aziz was appointed deputy foreign minister with the rank of minister. The new appointment places the king’s son in pole position to take over the foreign affairs portfolio as Saud al-Faisal, who has been the kingdom’s foreign minister since 1975, has problems speaking in public due to illness.
Last year, the Saudi monarch appointed his son Mutib as the head of the National Guard.
The poor state of health of the 87-year-old King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz has fueled speculation over the potential successor to the Saudi monarch.
Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, Sultan’s full brother and considered second in line to the throne, has undergone unspecified medical treatment as well.
Many analysts expect a major power struggle for the Saudi throne as all potential candidates are elderly and ailing.
Prince Abdul Aziz has served as the Saudi king’s special envoy for important regional issues, particularly Saudi relations with Syria.
The Al Saud monarchy came to power with the military support of Britain in Hejaz region in western Saudi Arabia in the early 20th century. The monarchy survived with the all-out support of the United States due to Saudi Arabia’s vast oil reserves.