Within the past 20 months, King Salman has made only one public appearance, staying in the newly planned city of Neom, Saudi Arabia, which is a grand infrastructure project that bin Salman has launched recently.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): An article written by The Guardian reflects on the absence of Saudi King Salman, shedding light on the ascending power of Mohamad bin Salman.
Mohamad bin Salman, according to a report by The Guardian, may have had his father's throne slowly transitioned to him. It is more than being given extra responsibilities, but rather a shift of power which has been witnessed recently.
On Tuesday, MBS "looked like the man in charge," as the crown prince received Arab rulers for the regional summit, arriving in Riyadh. However, at this event which happens only once every 5 years, there was one peculiar thing: King Salman was absent, as he has been for the past almost two years.
Within the past 20 months, King Salman has made only one public appearance, staying in the newly planned city of Neom, Saudi Arabia, which is a grand infrastructure project that bin Salman has launched recently. His appearance was in early 2020 when he met with UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab. Five months later, the king underwent a gallbladder operation in Riyadh, constituting his only recent visit to the capital where the kingdom holds its power.
Furthermore, based on the fact that King Salman was absent in Macron's visit following the international scandal of Khashoggi's murder, one may come to conclusions that Salman may be a king in name, but does not attend to his duties. On the other hand, bin Salman seems to hold all power, and "does not seem bothered by who knows it."
With this observation, many questions are rising about the king's health. King Salman, who will be turning 86 on December 31, has vascular dementia from which he suffers a mild case.
“This has not been a huge factor in recent years, and it is tough to get a read on now with Covid,” said a former intelligence official. “But it is thought to be more problematic now. It’s certainly a pretext for MBS to keep his father at bay. He is definitely running Saudi Arabia. His father is not.”
MBS' assumption of power entailed cutting out rivalries as well as family members, minimizing all competition, cracking down on political dissidents. With his father's health condition, there is only space to grab power, which MBS did.
Other events which the king has missed are the usual appearances he used to make in Mecca, especially on the occasions of Ramadan and Hajj [pilgrimage], festival seasons in Riyadh, and weekly royal court receptions.
“He has cleared his path to the coronation,” the former intelligence official said concerning MBS. “Covid or not, no one can deny that the king is not just missing in action, but likely out of business.”