Tuesday, August 02, 2005

More On Fahd's Death/Abdullah's Ascension

Via Reuters, a piece speculating that Abdullah, himself an elderly man, may presage a number of rulers in short succession, each ruling for a brief period and dying thereafter. This will come about because the line of succession appears to be direct rather than having a first son lineage.
King Abdullah, who succeeded Fahd on Monday, and the new Crown Prince Sultan are both octogenarians and unlikely to be more than transitional rulers. In turn they could be succeeded by princes barely 10 years their junior.

"Abdullah and Sultan are not just old, they are very old. So their reigns will be short," said Simon Henderson, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East policy.

"The problem is going to be compounded because their successors are likely to be brothers or half-brothers rather than sons or nephews."

Only once has the Saudi throne passed from father to son, on the death of the kingdom's founder King Abdul-Aziz 52 years ago.

Since then five of his sons -- Saud, Faisal, Khaled, Fahd and now Abdullah -- have taken their turn and still more elderly princes are waiting in line, unlikely to surrender meekly their chance to rule despite advancing age.