Saudi King Salman (L) chairs a cabinet meeting, accompanied by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R), in the holy Muslim city of Mecca on July 10, 2017. (Photo by the Saudi Royal Palace)

Saudi king to relinquish power in favor of son next week: Report

Saudi King Salman plans to relinquish power in favor of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, next week, a high-level source close to the country’s royal family says.

“Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week,” the source told the Daily Mail on Thursday.

“King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title ‘Custodian of the Holy Shrines,’” he added.

The development is considered as the final stage in Mohammed bin Salman’s push for power grab, which intensified earlier this month after the mass arrest of over 40 princes and government ministers in a so-called anti-graft probe.

The number of the arrestees in the recent purge reportedly stood at more than 500, and twice that number had been questioned.

Many observers consider the crackdown as a self-promotion campaign launched by the crown prince aimed at consolidating his power.

Since the establishment of Saudi Arabia as an absolute monarchy in 1932, the system has been effectively known as a hereditary dictatorship and monarchy.

Speculation of King Salman’s possible abdication surfaced in late June, when the monarch deposed his nephew, then deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef as the heir to the throne and offered the position to his favorite son, in what analysts described as a “political earthquake” back then.

After ascending to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman will shift his focus to Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement by seeking assistance from the Israeli military, the source said.

“MBS is convinced that he has to hit Iran and Hezbollah,” he said. “Contrary to the advice of the royal family elders, that’s MBS’s next target.”

According to the report, the Saudi crown prince has already promised Israel billions of dollars in direct financial aid if they agree.

Political observers consider the recent mysterious resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia as a prelude to Mohammed bin Salman’s push to confront Hezbollah.

Lebanon says Hariri, who led a coalition government including Hezbollah, has been forced by the Saudi regime to resign and is currently being held there, with President Michel Aoun calling the detention an act of aggression against his nation.

Senior Lebanese officials and other world leaders have been trying to figure out what is going on behind the scenes in the Hariri case, with many of them pressuring the Saudi regime to secure the safe return of Hariri to his homeland.

A source close to Hariri said he is expected to leave Saudi Arabia for France before flying home to Beirut to officially submit his resignation.

Riyadh has taken on more aggressive policies since bin Salman’s elevation to the position of defense minister and deputy crown prince in 2015, and later to the position of crown prince.

The kingdom is currently struggling with plummeting oil prices. The Al Saud regime also faces criticism over its deadly military campaign against neighboring Yemen, which it launched on March 26, 2015.

Many also see Riyadh’s policies as a major cause of the crises unfolding in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.