A Saudi official has denied a report by the New York Times that former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has been confined to his palace and barred from travelling abroad.
Mohammed bin Nayef has not been seen in public since June 21, when Saudi state media broadcast a video showing him pledging allegiance to his cousin Mohammed bin Salman, who replaced Nayef as crown prince.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
An unnamed official told the Reuters news agency on Thursday that the New York Times’ report was “not true, 100 percent”.
The Times had reported on Wednesday that Mohammed bin Nayef was being “prevented” from leaving his palace in the coastal city of Jeddah, after “his trusted guards had been replaced by guards loyal to Mohammed bin Salman”.
It said restrictions had also been imposed on Mohammed bin Nayef’s daughters, before adding it was unclear how long they would remain in place.
A senior US official told the Times that it was an “indication that MBS [Mohammed bin Salman] does not want any opposition.”
“He doesn’t want any rear-guard action within the family. He wants a straight elevation without any dissent – not that MBN [Mohammed bin Nayef] was plotting anything anyway.”
King Salman issued a series of royal decrees last Wednesday, the foremost being the appointment of his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as the kingdom’s new crown prince and deputy prime minister.
Nayef, 57, who was once dubbed “America’s favourite Saudi,” was relieved of all his roles – including interior minister.
Mohammed bin Salman, 31, has overseen the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has killed more than 10,000 people, wounded 45,000 others, and displaced more than 11 percent of the country’s 26 million people.
The war, launched more than two years ago, has failed to dislodge Houthi rebels from the capital, Sanaa, and has had devastating effects on the impoverished country.
The United Nations has put the blame on all the warring sides and their international backers for the spread of cholera, which it calls a man-made humanitarian catastrophe.