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A kingdom in transition

29 12 22

A FASCINATING transition is taking place in Saudi Arabia, with the baton now passing from an ageing — and often ineffective because of ill health — generation to a new and largely inexperienced one.

Since Faisal became king at the age of 58 in 1964, the Saudi throne has been occupied by an ageing monarch mainly because of what the Guardian described as a horizontal line of succession, with brother succeeding brother.

A 62-year-old Khalid was named king after the killing of his brother Faisal. Khalid passed away at 69; Fahd who followed him in 1982 died in 2005 at the age of 84. When Abdullah succeeded Fahd in 2005, he was already 81 and quite ill. He was 91 when he died in 2015. The current monarch, Salman, ascended the throne at 82.

One hopes that the new crown prince’s prize hire, retired Gen Raheel Sharif, can offer wise counsel to his employer to ensure the region doesn’t plunge into a new conflict.

He is 84 now and also said to be in poor health. A cursory look at this information shows that the youngest Saudi ruler over the past half a century was Faisal when he pushed out his brother Saud in a power struggle in 1964.

Since then, the youngest to be named kings were Khalid at 62 and Fahd (61) followed by the 81-year-old Abdullah and Salman at 82. It is against this backdrop that even (the just removed) former crown prince Mohammad bin Nayef looked quite young when given the position in his mid-50s.

The latest developments, however, have placed matters of the kingdom firmly in the........

© Dawn