>> Shockwaves from the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi have shaken the heart of the Saudi royal family. Five sources close to the royal court told Reuters that the de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed, lost control of the crisis as it went global, and had to ask his father, King Salman, to step in.
Uproar from the United States, an old ally, was a major factor. Turkish officials say they believe Khashoggi, a US resident, was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul early this month. Riyadh denies the increasingly gruesome reports. But his disappearance has deepened questions about whether 33-year-old Prince Mohammed, known as MBS, is fit to rule.
> He has been the face of reform in the deeply conservative kingdom, with an ambitious economic project and permitting women to drive.>>
>> But MBS has made enemies, a crackdown on dissent, a purge of top royals and business men on corruption charges. He has sidelined senior princes, taken the reigns of security at intelligence agencies.
The result, a build up of anger in the royal court that could prove dangerous for MBS, the sources said, and prompt demands that King Salman rein in his favorite son. MBS and his aides thought the crisis would pass, but miscalculated, a source said. So the king dispatched his most trusted aide to Istanbul, Prince Halidahl Faisal, who counts the Turkish president as a friend.
Salman also softened the Saudi tone after initial threats to retaliate against any sanctions raised fears Saudi Arabia would cut oil production. MBS was starting to look all-powerful, but his father cannot risk splitting the royal family, sources say. The Al Saud Dynasty has held the throne for decades, placing stability and caution above all else.
King Salman has been somewhat out of the loop since he delegated power to his heir last year. But now, the sources say, those around him are warning him of the risks.