The elevation of Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Mohammad bin Salman to crown prince, a position that places the 31 year old next in line to the throne, could be met with resistance at home.
Announced by a royal decree published by state news agency SPA on Wednesday, bin Salman's promotion comes at the expense of 57 year-old crown prince and interior minister Muhammad bin Nayef, who has been relieved of all positions, SPA said.
A potentially violent power struggle in the future cannot be ruled out as it's not clear whether bin Nayef will go quietly, Peter Sluglett, visiting research professor at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore, told CNBC on Wednesday.
"Generally speaking, the (royal) succession has proceeded in a fairly orderly manner, first through sons of the Kingdom's founder Abdulaziz and then to grandsons more or less in order of age, so this is quite a shocker in terms of precedence."
Bin Salman, one of the King's 12 sons, has been making international waves over the past year, with his Vision 2030 statement and the related National Transformation Plan — a program aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy away from energy over the next decade. He was also deemed a key player in Riyadh's decision to isolate Qatar amid allegations that Doha's ruling family supported terrorism.