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Feb. 9, 2015

Saudi Arabia handles King Abdullah's death smoothly

by Aidan Keys, Staff Writer
On Jan. 25, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, 90, died in that country's capital city of Riyadh due to yet-undisclosed causes. King Salman, 79, Abdullah's half-brother, assumed the throne shortly after his brother's death.

Abdullah assumed the role as absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia after his brother, King Fahd, died in 2005. His leadership was a battle between tradition and encroaching liberalism. His obituary in the New York Times reads, "Abdullah’s reign was a constant effort to balance desert traditions with the demands of the modern world." For instance, while he is most renowned for his education policies in Saudi Arabia, which gave opportunities to both men and women, he maintained policies against women’s rights that are sexist to the Western estimation.

Abdullah's foreign policy was largely based on keeping Saudi Arabia the most influential power in the Middle East. A strong ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia is rich with oil. Abdullah's good relations with the U.S. have allowed the U.S. to keep oil prices down. However, towards the end of his reign, Abdullah worried about U.S. relations with Iran. According to the Daily Signal, Abdullah “broke ranks with the United States on issues such as...nuclear negotiations with Iran, which he saw as naïve and risky." As Iran builds its nuclear arsenal and maintains its nuclear deal with the United States, there are serious security implications in Saudi Arabia, as the country fears that Iran will use its weapons to target the country. The Daily Signal further explains, "The Saudis believe that the Obama administration has failed to pay sufficient attention to Iranian support for terrorism and subversion. They fear that if Washington reaches a nuclear deal with Iran, it will turn a blind eye to Iran’s hostile acts against its neighbors. "
 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died on Jan. 25, marking a new era for the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Courtesy of Muftah
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died on Jan. 25, marking a new era for the Saudi Arabian monarchy.

King Salman will focus on stabilizing the oil market, jobs, and combatting the Islamic State, using collective leadership to guide Saudi Arabia . However, there is more discussion of his successor and nephew, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Minister of the Interior. Bin Nayef is known for his work against al-Qaeda. This is especially necessary considering the situation in Yemen , in which the rebel Houthi movement—backed by Iran, ousted Yemeni President Hadi—who both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia supported. This ousting has allowed rebel support of some of Saudi Arabia's Eastern province, where many oil fields are located and the growth of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Even as King Salman is the current absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia, there is much more attention on Nayef, who is slated to continue Abdullah's legacy. Most critics of Salman reference his mental health and old age as an indicator to shift the focus to Nayef.



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  • Okeanos963 (View Email) on February 10, 2015 at 2:50 PM
    "King Salman will focus on stabilizing the oil market, jobs, and combatting the Islamic State, using collective leadership to guide Saudi Arabia"

    For the sake of honest journalism, perhaps it should be mentioned the ISIS was built by Saudi money. The new king donated millions of petro dollars for Alqaida in the 90's. Google him.
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