Monday, August 08, 2005

Future rulers,6903,1543921,00.html

Whom would the west prefer as the next ruler of Saudi Arabia?

Oliver Morgan, in the Observer 7 August 2005, looks at who might eventually take over from Abdullah.

Mohammed Ali Zainy, analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London, says of Abdullah:

'At the time he was Crown Prince, he was for more participatory politics and was in favour of rights for women.'

Maewi al-Rasheed, professor of social anthropology at King's College, London, says: 'Abdullah has been constructed in this liberal image in the west, but the al-Saud ruling family is pragmatic. It will say anything to retain its grip on power. Remember, the senior princes [Sultan, Salman, Naif] all have ministries that they control, with huge budgets, patronage and power bases. They are effectively kings too.' And they are rivals.

There are reports that Abdullah's health is poor.

Abdullah has choses as his successor Sultan, his half brother.

There are reports that Sultan has stomach cancer.

Naif is the tough and 'sinister' interior minister and head of the security service, which has cracked down on militants.

According to Morgan in the Observer, the US is not keen on Naif taking over. He is seen as too repressive.

Abdul Aziz al Saud set up a 'horizontal' system of succession, where the best-suited of his children and grandchildren succeed one another. This has meant very elderly rulers.

Morgan writes: 'Successors to Abdullah among his half-brothers are most likely to be sons of Abdul Aziz's favourite wife Sudairy.'

Abdullah's most prominent son, Mitab Abdelaziz al-Saud, is deputy head of the Saudi National Guard and minister for local government and rural affairs.

The sons of King Faisal (who ruled from 1964 until assassinated by his nephew in 1975) were educated in the west and have had full administrative and diplomatic careers.

One analyst says of Saud al Faisal 'he is very well thought of, he has proved himself an able official and foreign minister.' However, another says: 'Saud is out on health grounds.'

His brother Turki has served in diplomatic posts in Europe and the US and is to move to Washington as ambassador.

He is said not to have 'domestic clout'.

Khalid, son of Sultan has a powerful, and living, father.

Khalid led the joint Arab forces in the Gulf. An analyst says: 'He speaks perfect English and set up Al-hayat, the influential newspaper. But he has not proved himself yet as a minister.'

King Fahd, who died in July 2005, has sons: Mohammed and Abdelaziz.

Mohammed was Jonathan Aitken's business partner and speaks perfect English.

Naif's son is Mohammed.

Salman is governor of Riyadh. He has had trouble controlling the Mutaween religious police, 'but he is known and liked'. He had the most prominent role at the funeral last week.'

Salman's son is Sultan bin Salman. Sultan bin Salman flew on the space shuttle Discovery'.


Saudi royal family tree

Saudi Arabia's founder Abdul-Aziz bin Saud fathered dozens of children from multiple wives.

Abdullah, 81, is the half brother of his predecessor, the late King Fahd.

Fahd was one of the seven full brothers born to Abdul-Aziz's wife, Hussa bint Ahmad Sudairi.

The brothers have held key positions - Interior Minister Prince Nayef, in charge of security forces; Prince Salman, the governor of Riyadh; and Prince Sultan, the defense minister, whom Abdullah has named as the new crown prince.

Abdullah is the sole son of another wife of Abdul-Aziz, Fahda bint Asi bin Shurayim Shammar.

He was chosen by Fahd as crown prince despite a challenge by Sultan.

There is likely to be competition between the Sudeiri Seven and Abdullah to place their allies in prominent positions.

Abdullah may find allies among other half brothers.


Matthew Simmons believes Saudi Arabia's oil reserves have been greatly overestimated.



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