Sources told Reuters that members within Saudi Arabia's ruling family and business elites are increasingly becoming frustrated with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) after the largest-ever attack on Saudi oil facilities on September 14, reported Reuters.
Distinguished members within the ruling Al Saud family have expressed deep concern about MbS' ability to defend and lead the world's largest oil exporter, according to a senior foreign diplomat and five sources with ties to the Al Saud family, all spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters.
Some of the sources said the September 14 attacks fueled unwanted tensions in the Middle East, especially the threat of imminent war with Iran.
"There is a lot of resentment" about the crown prince's ability to lead, said one of the sources, a member of the Saudi elite with royal connections. "How were they not able to detect the attack?"
The source told Reuters that elite circles are now indicating "no confidence" in MbS. Four other sources and a senior diplomat have also confirmed that "no confidence" with the crown prince is building in the kingdom.
Another Saudi source said: "The latest events won't affect him personally as a potential ruler because he is trying to stop the Iranian expansion in the region. This is a patriotic issue, and so he won't be in danger, at least as long as the father lives."
Neil Quilliam, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, told Reuters that, "There's diminishing confidence in his [MbS] ability to secure the country – and that's a consequence of his policies."
The September 14 missile and drone attack set two Saudi Aramco's oil facilities ablaze, paralyzing half of the kingdom's oil production, but has since restored oil output to pre-attack levels.
Asked what #SaudiCrownPrince #MohammedbinSalman thought would motivate Iran to strike the Saudi Aramco plants in the Sept. 14 attack he replied “stupidity” https://t.co/xVvMSGzvYP pic.twitter.com/RRuYcjaY3d— Arab News (@arabnews) September 30, 2019
"The magnitude of these attacks is not lost on the population, nor is the fact that he [the crown prince] is the minister of defense and his brother is deputy defense minister, and yet arguably the country has suffered its largest attack ever and on the crown jewels," Quilliam said.
The attack has fueled resentment towards the crown prince who obtained power two years ago, arresting rivals to the throne on corruption charges.
Sources said MbS had spread the kingdom's defenses too thin with an aggressive foreign policy towards Iran and the war in Yemen. They were also disappointed that MbS spent hundreds of billions of dollars on defenses that didn't prevent the attack.
Another source said MbS' efforts to centralize power had put the prince's closest allies into government positions that they weren't qualified for.
For instance, MbS removed Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince and interior minister several years ago, who had more than two decades of experience in senior roles in the ministry. MbS replaced Nayef with his 33-year-old cousin, who had no experience whatsoever.
It remains to be seen how frustrated Saudi elites will handle MbS. Indeed, there's a lot of anger about the crown prince's leadership, and if another attack on the kingdom occurs, it's likely that internal turmoil within the House of Saud could mean MbS' days are numbered.
Saudi Elites Question MbS' Ability To Lead World's Largest Oil Exporter After Aramco Attack