Saudi King Salman named his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, next in line to take over the oil-rich kingdom with a royal decree on Wednesday in a dramatic upending of the royal succession.
The Allegiance Council is a body made up of the sons and prominent grandsons of the founder of the Saudi state, the late King Abdul-Aziz, who vote to pick the king and crown prince from among themselves.
According to a royal decree issued by the official Saudi Press Agency, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was also named deputy prime minister, and maintains his post as minister of defence.
The prince already oversees a vast portfolio as defense minister.
Unlike Mohammed bin Nayef, who was famous and well-admired in Washington for leading the kingdom's operations against Al Qaeda, Saudis barely knew Mohammed bin Salman before his father became monarch in January 2015. He's also defense minister and son of King Salman.
Ulrichsen tells The Associated Press that Mohammed bin Salman's appointment also removes the challenge of having an increasingly elderly set of royals rule the kingdom. These include Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen and the Vision 2030 economic reform plan to end what he has described as the kingdom's "addiction" to oil.
Now, with Mohammed bin Salman's appointment, the king has once again changed how power will pass down in the conservative Islamic kingdom.
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The rise of Prince Salman under King Salman had shattered decades of tradition in the royal family, where respect for seniority and power-sharing among branches are time-honored traditions.
The consolidation of power towards the new crown prince included moves to undermine Mohammed bin Nayef by limiting his access to the king through the royal court, and, in recent days, removing prosecutorial power from the Interior Ministry.
After Prince Mohammed's elevation was announced, Saudi Arabia's stock market surged more than 3 percent in early trade.
Previously, as deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for running Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen as well as spearheading a global energy policy and plans for a post-oil future for the kingdom.
The fate of Saudi Arabia's former crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, may have been sealed in March after his rival met with President Trump at the White House for a formal lunch.
Outside Saudi Arabia, that rapid advance and the sudden changes to longstanding policies on regional affairs, energy and its economy have prompted unease, adding an unpredictable edge to a kingdom that allies long regarded as a known quantity.
King Salman issued a decree on Wednesday confirming that his son will take up the position of deputy prime minister in addition to his current role as defence minister.