Monday, August 01, 2005

Saudi Arabia - King Fahd Dead; Abdullah King

At 2:27 AM CSt, caught breaking announcement that King Fahd of Saudi Arabia is dead. Most who follow any thing from the ME will know that Fahd had a CVA (stroke) a decade ago and essentially has been a figure head in kingdom and Abdullah has been effectively running the kingdom.

At an earlier time, there were rumors of some infighting among the princes over the succession. Unlike other monarchies, the Saudi kingdom does not have primo genitor rules of succession (ie, it isn't the son or the first male of the immediate line that inherits). Instead, it is someone that the current king selects personally and can be any member of the family. In this case, Crown Prince Abdullah was his half brother and the next eldest son of their father and previous king.

It is protocol and long standing precedent that has kept the arguments between the princes generally quiet from the outside world. In public, they present one single policy and governing style. In private, it's often another story and relies on heavy negotiations and trade offs for control of public office. One thing that will be interesting is whether any of the ministers will be changed.

Prince Turki al Faisal, ex head of intelligence, is now our ambassador. At least he wasn't the one that claimed Al Qaida didn't exist right before they got bombed by said Al Qaida, though I need to research if he had anything to do with the arrest of the Brit and Canadian citizens in the after math of the first bombings and denial by the Saudi government.

The king is dead, long live the king?

1 comment:

John Burgess said...

Just to clarify a couple of points:

Turki Al-Faisal isn't yet the Saudi ambassador to the US. His name has been put forward to the US gov't. The US needs to formally accept the nomination. Right now, the gov't is going through a process known as "agrément," i.e., agreeing to accept him as ambassador. Then, assuming agrément, he will need to present his credentials and have them accepted. This can take time--months--but given the importance of Saudi Arabia to the US, will probably come quickly.

Second, Turki had left his position as head of Saudi Intelligence before 9/11--in August, actually. In the immediate aftermath, he was not in any governmental position, so what he may or may not have done is really difficult to discover. In 2002, however, he was named as Saudi ambassador to the UK. The UK has been pleased with the cooperation he's provided. The USG is generally pleased with him as well, though some have dark suspicions about his meetings (all known to the USG) with bin Laden.