The King of Saudi Arabia plans to step down and announce his son as his successor next week, the British newspaper Daily Mail reported on Thursday, citing a source close to the country's royal family.
The move is seen as the final step in 32-year-old Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's power grab, which began earlier this month with the arrests of more than 40 princes and government ministers in a corruption probe.
The unnamed source told the Daily Mail that King Salman will continue only as a ceremonial figurehead, handing over official leadership of the country to his son, often referred to as MBS.
“Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week. King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title 'Custodian of the Holy Shrines,'” said the source.
The high level source further said that once crowned king, the prince will shift his focus to Iran, Saudi Arabia's longtime regional rival.
He will also enlist the help of the Israeli military to crush Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, according to the source.
“MBS is convinced that he has to hit Iran and Hezbollah...MBS's plan is to start the fire in Lebanon, but he's hoping to count on Israeli military backing. He has already promised Israel billions of dollars in direct financial aid if they agree,” claimed the source.
“MBS can not confront Hezbollah in Lebanon without Israel. Plan B is to fight Hezbollah in Syria,' added the source.
The Daily Mail report has not been confirmed by another source.
The 32-year-old crown prince portrays himself as a liberal reformer. He recently announced that the ultra-conservative kingdom would adopt a moderate and open Islam. Previously, the kingdom announced it would cancel its longstanding ban on women driving. It is believed the crown prince was behind this move as well.
As for Israel, there have been several recent reports that Saudi Arabia and Israel are getting closer.
Earlier this week, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that the Saudi government is weighing the possible normalization of relations with Israel ahead of a planned Middle East peace program by the Trump administration which aims to not only secure a final status agreement between Israel and the PA, but lead to recognition of the Jewish state by the larger Arab world.
The newspaper's report was based on a letter it alleged was sent from Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to the crown prince.
Recent reports indicated that a senior member of the Saudi royal family, perhaps even the crown prince himself, held high-level talks with Israeli officials during a clandestine trip to the Jewish state.
Saudi Arabia vehemently denied the reports, saying they were unfounded.
Earlier on Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot gave a rare interview to Elaph, a Saudi newspaper based in London, in which he called for a new regional coalition to counter Iran's growing influence and threats in the Middle East.