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Why Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince still needs his father

The influential, yet polarizing, Mohammed bin Salman still relies on his father King Salman's legitimacy and credentials as the country faces challenges at home and abroad.

A year after King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud made his son Mohammed bin Salman crown prince, the 32-year-old remains dependent on his father’s legitimacy and credentials to be the heir apparent. Prince Mohammed has polarized the House of Saud more than any figure in more than half a century.

Last summer, the king removed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from the No. 2 position in the kingdom with no explanation and elevated his son. Nayef had successfully defeated al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, foiled terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe, and survived numerous al-Qaeda assassination attempts. Since his removal from the line of succession, he has been under house detention and all of his communications are being monitored. He has little access to outsiders, and his bank accounts were frozen last November.

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