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Allegiance Council

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Saudi Arabia
Basic Law
Foreign relations

The Allegiance Council (Arabic: هيئة البيعةHay’at al-Bay‘ah; also known as the Allegiance Commission or Allegiance Institution) is the body responsible for determining future succession to the throne of Saudi Arabia. It was formed on 7 December 2007 by King Abdullah.[1] At the time of its formation, the Council's intended function was to appoint a Crown Prince once a new King succeeds to the throne.[2]


  • History 1
  • Role 2
  • Membership 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Previously, under Chapter 2 of the Basic Law promulgated by King Fahd, the appointment of the next in line was the sole prerogative of the King:

The appointment of a successor by the King was usually done with some form of informal consensus among members of the royal family.[3] However, after Prince Abdullah succeeded Fahd as King, the behind-the-scenes battles over the future of the monarchy intensified, particularly between Prince Abdullah and the Sudairi princes, including late Prince Sultan and late Prince Nayef.[2][4] Due to increasing uncertainty of succession beyond Prince Sultan, King Abdullah issued the Allegiance Institution Law in 2006, which formally established the Allegiance Council.[5] The Council gave additional voice to members of the Al Saud when a new King selects his Crown Prince.

According to an October 2009 diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, the Al Saud described the Council as a "codification of the unwritten rules that have governed the selection of Saudi rulers since the passing of King Abdulaziz in 1953."[6]

The role of the Council was intended to take effect once late Prince Sultan succeeded to the throne. However, in 2009, when he was gravely ill with cancer, late Prince Nayef was appointed Second Deputy Prime Minister (a position for the crown prince in waiting), presumably to keep the position of Crown Prince within the Sudairi faction.[7] This led to uncertainty over the role of the Council.[2] The appointment of late Prince Nayef was openly questioned by Prince Talal.[7][8]

The Council supposedly undertook its duties for the first time when Prince Sultan died in October 2011. One week after his death, King Abdullah announced that the Council had selected Prince Nayef as the new Crown Prince.[9] However, the Council just swore allegiance to Nayef as Crown Prince. Whether or not it actually voted the selection remained unclear.[10]

Similar apparent dysfunctionality of the council was also observed in regard to the appointment of Prince Salman as Crown Prince in June 2012.[11] Prince Talal stated that the princes on the Council were not consulted on the succession of Prince Salman and that the Council became ineffective.[12]


Under the Allegiance Institution Law, the King nominates up to three candidates for the position of Crown Prince. The Allegiance Council then selects one of them as Crown Prince.[5] If the Council rejects all of the King's nominees, it may nominate its own candidate. The Crown Prince will be then decided by a vote among the Council:

The Council also preempts the possibility of the King becoming incapacitated. In the event the King permanently loses his ability to exercise his powers, the Council will declare the Crown Prince as King.[2][5] If both the King and the Crown Prince become permanently incapacitated, the Council will form a five-member Transitory Ruling Council to temporarily assume administration of the Kingdom. The Council will also select a new King within seven days.[5] Despite all these detailed legal description, the Council has never been activated and was not active in the appointments of the crown princes; in 2011, namely Prince Nayef and in 2012, namely Prince Salman[13][14]

The foundation of the Council was seen as way to diminish the influence of the Sudairi brothers, who could be easily outvoted in the Council.[2][8] Despite this, the Sudairis are said to have influence over more than half the council members.[7]


The members of the council include surviving sons of Abdulaziz, grandsons whose fathers are deceased, incapacitated or unwilling to assume the throne and the sons of the King and Crown Prince.[5] As of 1 April 2013 the council has 28 members: 9 surviving sons of Abdulaziz and his 19 grandsons, each representing his deceased or incapacitated father.[8]

However, the line of Hamoud bin Abdulaziz is not represented in the Council, since he died without a son.[15] One of King Abdulaziz's sons, Prince Fawwaz, was a member at the Council, but died in 2008 without sons. Grandson of Turki (I), Turki bin Faisal, died on 28 February 2009 and was replaced by his brother, Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki. Bandar bin Musaid also replaced his brother, Abdullah bin Musaid.[16][17]

Prince Talal resigned from the Council three weeks after the appointment of Prince Nayef as Crown Prince in November 2011. His resignation meant one of his sons might take a position on the Council,in the future.[18]

In December 2011, Saud bin Nayef was appointed as a member of the Council since his father, late Prince Nayef could not have a seat in the Council due to being then crown prince.[19]

The Council is chaired by Prince Mishaal, who is not considered to be in the line of succession.[2] Members of the Council swear an oath of allegiance to the King.[20]

Sons of King Abdul-Aziz[20]
Grandsons of King Abdul-Aziz[20]

See also


  1. ^ "Prince Mishaal to head Allegiance Commission: Saudi launches royal succession committee". Al Arabiya. 10 December 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Henderson, Simon (August 2009). "After King Abdullah: Succession in Saudi Arabia". Policy Focus #96 ( 
  3. ^ Henderson, Simon (25 October 2006). "New Saudi Rules on Succession: Will They Fix the Problem?". Policy Watch #1156 ( 
  4. ^ "Still murky".  
  5. ^ a b c d e f "The Allegiance Institution Law". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, DC. 20 October 2006. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Smith, James B. (28 October 2009). "09RIYADH1434:Saudi Succession:Can the Allegiance Commission Work?". Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c "Keys to the kingdom: Inside Saudi Arabia's royal family".  
  8. ^ a b c "When kings and princes grow old".  
  9. ^ P.K. Abdul Ghafour (29 October 2011). "Allegiance Commission ensures smooth succession".  
  10. ^ "How Saudi Arabia picks its kings". Gulf News (Riyadh). Reuters. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 11 August. 
  11. ^ Nathaniel Kern; Matthew M. Reed (21 June 2012). "The Crown Prince and the Allegiance Council" (Commentary). Middle East Policy Council. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  12. ^ "Saudi Allegiance council ineffective: Saudi prince Talal". Islam Times. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  13. ^ MacFarquhar, Neil (17 June 2012). "Saudis Seek a Crown Prince and Talk of Other Successors". The New York Times (Beirut). Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "New appointment clarifies line of succession in Saudi Arabia". IHS Global Insight. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  15. ^ Kapoor, Talal (1 April 2008). "The Kingdom: Succession in Saudi Arabia (part six)". Datarabia. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  16. ^ Nathaniel Kerr; Matthew M. Reed (15 November 2011). "Change and succession in Saudi Arabia". Middle East Policy Center. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  17. ^ "Saudi Succession Developments". Foreign Reports Inc. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  18. ^ Alsharif, Asma (26 November 2011). "Senior Saudi royal resigns from Allegiance Council".  
  19. ^ Abdul Ghafour, P.K. (6 December 2011). "Saudi Arabia Seeks Global Backing for Palestinians". Arab News. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  20. ^ a b c "King Abdullah names members of the Allegiance Commission". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, DC. 10 December 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 

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