The recently deposed crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Nayef, has been barred from leaving the kingdom and confined to his palace in the coastal city of Jidda, according to four current and former American officials and Saudis close to the royal family.
The new restrictions on the man who until last week was next in line to the throne and ran the kingdom’s powerful internal security services sought to limit any potential opposition for the new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize relationships with Saudi royals.
It was unclear how long the restrictions would remain in place. An adviser to the Saudi royal court referred queries to the Information Ministry, whose officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday. A senior official in the Saudi Foreign Ministry reached by telephone on Wednesday night described the account as “baseless and false.”
The Saudi monarch, King Salman, shook up the line of succession last week with a string of royal decrees that promoted his favorite son, Mohammed bin Salman, to crown prince and removed Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, from the line of succession.
The elder prince was also replaced as interior minister by a 33-year-old nephew, marking the end of a career that had won him deep respect in Washington and other foreign capitals for his work dismantling Al Qaeda’s networks inside the kingdom after a string of deadly bombings a decade ago.
Supporters of Mohammed bin Salman, often referred to as M.B.S., have lauded his promotion, saying it empowered a young, ambitious prince who has laid out a positive vision for the kingdom’s future.
But his elevation effectively ended the political prospects of many older princes, some of whom consider him rash, power hungry and inexperienced. Prince Mohammed also serves as the kingdom’s defense minister, putting him in charge of Saudi Arabia’s costly military intervention against the Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen.
Saudi state news media has gone out of its way to portray a smooth transition, repeatedly broadcasting a video showing Mohammed bin Salman deferentially kissing the hand of Mohammed bin Nayef, often referred to as M.B.N., who wishes him well.