Here is another video being widely circulated in the Saudi Twitterverse. The video reportedly shows a big crowd receiving the former Saudi Interior Minister Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz at Riyadh Air Base last night. Some local news sites also published a picture of the Prince as he got off the plane on red carpet. The official state news agency, which usually covers such news of departures and arrivals of royal family members, did not report the reception.
Now how to read this? Is this simply a show of gratitude to the prince at the end of his long caree in public service, or is it an implicit discontent with the King’s decision to replace him with his younger nephew after less than five months in top office? The royal decree announcing the change has noted that it has come upon Prince Ahmed’s request, but it was interesting to see that both the Ahmed’s request to step down and the decision to appoint Mohammed bin Naif has come on the very same day.
Of course, that Ahmed has asked to be relieved of his position is the official story, one that “sources in the Kingdom have universally denied,” according to Gulf analyst Michael Stephens. There is a rumor that Prince Ahmed would be appointed in a new position and may even play a major role in the succession plans, but it is hard to imagine this considering his exit from MOI like this. He might be the youngest of the “Sudairi Seven,” but he is 70 years old.
Time for retirement? Only time will tell.