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Iranian Media Speculates About Possible Death of Saudi Crown Prince

© AP Photo / Etienne Oliveau/PoolSaudi Arabia Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Arabia Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - Sputnik International
The apparent disappearance of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the public eye has led several Iranian media outlets to wonder if one of the most powerful men in the kingdom might’ve been killed during an attempted coup last month.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was allegedly hit by two bullets during the April 21 attack on the royal palace in Riyadh and may actually be dead as he has not appeared in public since the incident, Kayhan newspaper reports citing "a secret service report sent to the senior officials of an unnamed Arab state."

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As Press TV points out, no new photo or video of bin Salman has been released by Saudi authorities since that day, and the prince "was not even seen on camera when new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his maiden visit to Riyadh in late April."

"Bin Salman was a man who almost often appeared before the media but his 27-day absence since the gunfire in Riyadh has raised questions about his health," the Fars news agency remarks.

On April 21 several media agencies reported heavy gunfire emanating from the Saudi royal palace in Riyadh, prompting speculations about a possible coup attempt taking place. The Saudi authorities however claimed that the incident merely involved palace security guards firing upon a drone which allegedly was flying too close to the premises. A number of local media outlets however reported that King Salman himself was evacuated to a nearby military installation during the shooting, with Saudi analyst Ali al-Ahmed naming the King Khaled base as the monarch’s destination.

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However, a week after the coup speculations, the Crown Prince, along with Saudi King Salman, was seen at the opening ceremony of a huge entertainment resort Qiddiya – an ambitious multi-billion dollar project that is expected to include a Six Flags theme park, water parks, motor sports, cultural events and vacation homes.

On May 18, the Director of the Private Office of the Crown Prince, Bader al-Asaker, tweeted a group picture of Prince bin Salman and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, King of Bahrain bin Isa and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“A friendly meeting between the two brothers was hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a few days ago,” he wrote in a tweet, although Asaker did not specify the date of the image.

The two major powers in the Middle East – Iran and Saudi Arabia – have been longtime rivals for dominance in the region, supporting opposite sides in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria. The relations between Riyadh and Tehran have further deteriorated following the Yemeni Houthi rebels’ missile launches targeting the kingdom, with the latter blaming the Islamic Republic for providing the insurgents with weapons. Iranian authorities have consistently denied the allegations.

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In January 2016, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran after attacks on its diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad, prompted by the execution of top Iranian Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, along with 42 other people convicted of terrorism by Riyadh. In December 2017, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani named two conditions for restoring “good relations” between the two countries: Riyadh should "stop the misguided friendship with Israel and the inhumane bombardment of Yemen."

In a March interview with the Wall Street Journal, the Crown Prince warned of a possible war with Iran in 10-15 years, calling on the international community to impose tougher sanctions against Tehran to avoid a military confrontation.

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