The Al Saud clan is in peril amid reports that Saudi crown prince is now seriously sick while the King is known to be suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia.

Bruce Riedel, a former national intelligence officer and a member of US President Barack Obama's transition team, told NBC News on Friday that 30-year-old Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is currently visiting the United States because his father King Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, second in line to the throne, are both seriously ill.

Prince Bin Salman and met with President Barack Obama on Friday where they both reaffirmed the strategic partnership between Riyadh and Washington.

"We've put a lot of markers down on Mohammed bin Nayef. It's the smart move to do the same with bin Salman. It's an opportunity to get to know him,” Riedel said.

Despite Bin Salman's reckless foreign policy decisions, his meetings with Obama, Kerry and others show the Washington has apparently conceded his succession is "a very real contingency," said Riedel.

Sources in Washington say bin Salman has been accorded importance, since he's technically second-in-line to his father King Salman's throne. He seems to have gained the upper hand on his cousin and rival Mohammed Bin Nayef, the crown prince and a longtime US favorite. The trip has been termed as essentially a state visit without the fanfare.

There have been conflicting reports on the health of bin Nayef, with some sources in Ryadh saying the 56-year-old bin Nayef was physically fine and recently went on a hunting trip to Algeria.

According to the Middle East website, the source said, bin Salman's trip was “designed to make him US’s number one Saudi ally and to push [bin Nayef] out of the scene”.

Early June, reports emerged to the effect that King Salman’s health state has drastically deteriorated with visitors barred from seeing the ageing monarch.

Sources intimated that Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has issued orders to the Saudi court banning any manner of meeting with the king due to his "brain damage". An informed source noted that the denial of visiting rights encompasses all members of the royal family and foreign dignitaries.

The source noted that foreign embassies, especially that of the US, are diligently tracking Salman’s health and reporting back to their countries.

Over the recent months King Salman has been trying to disguise a teleprompter he uses to be able to make coherent sentences when holding talks with foreign dignitaries

Foreign leaders visiting the Saudi regime ruler have noticed that there is a large flower display positioned just in front of where the 80-year-old monarch sits.

Sources close to the Saudi monarchy say the 80 year old King Salman is suffering from dementia, a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Reports say the octogenarian monarch suffers from periodic blackouts and inability to speak.

The failing health of the Saudi monarch initially led to intense rivalry between Crown Prince bin Nayef and bin Salman. This rivalry has led to an increasingly weird and self-destructive nature of present-day Saudi foreign policy that suddenly shifted from cautious use of Saudi Arabia’s vast oil wealth to further its aims to a militarized and confrontational pursuit of foreign policy objectives. The ailing ruler gave his son, Bin Salman, a staggering amount of power after he named deputy crown prince last April. He also serves as the defense minister, heading up the kingdom’s illegal aggression Yemen and support for Takfiri terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Riyadh is facing a budget deficit caused by a sharp slump in oil prices as well as the regime’s rising military expenditure.

Early this year, Bin Salman revealed that Saudi Arabia is considering an initial public offering for state-owned oil company Aramco. All of this reveals what a desperate situation record-low oil prices and destructive regional and internal have pushed the Saudi’s regime into.

The Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA) acknowledges that the kingdom ran a deficit of 21.6% of GDP in 2015—a quantum leap from 3% the prior year. They hope to cut that to 13% in 2016. However, the IMF expects a deficit of 20% in 2016.

The Saudi regime is also spending colossal amounts of money to bribe some Arab and African countries into following its flawed policies in the region.

Bin Salman is also implementing risky and controversial economic programs and austerity measures targeting common people leading to simmering dissent within the kingdom.

Cracks have begun to appear in the dictatorial kingdom, with increasing criticism on social media from Saudis concerned over the hit to their wallets. The longstanding suppression of Shiite Muslims, who constitute a significant portion of the population, has also added to the troubles facing the Saudi regime especially after the unjust execution of prominent Islamic scholar Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr in January.

Unsurprisingly, Prince Salman's meteoric rise has caused ripples, and has antagonized some other members of the vast and increasingly shaky House of Saud which faces an uncertain future.

 

Originally appeared on Alwaght.com