Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah selects half-brother as next in line for throne

By Kyle Johnson,

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah announced on Thursday that his half-brother Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz would be the next in line for the throne.

The announcement skips over current Crown Prince Salman, who a source claims is ill and "may decide not to claim the throne," reports AFP. Salman is currently the defense minister for the country.

The ruling goes into effect Thursday, meaning that the 69-year-old second deputy prime minister will be named the new crown prince. Twenty-seven of the 34 members of the Board of Succession ruled in favor. With the voting done, "nobody can change this decision," a source said.

A JTG political analyst, Fahad Nazer, said that it has long appeared like the king trusts his half-brother and he was likely partly chosen because of "his relative youth, extensive experience in government and knowledge of the West." Nazer added that Muqrin is also often seen as a more likeable figure than others in the royal family.

According to Bloomberg, the decision was announced only hours ahead of the scheduled visit from President Barack Obama.

It's been previously announced that 90-year-old King Abdullah would meet with the U.S. president to talk about security in the Gulf and struggles in the Middle East, especially in Iran and Syria.

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