What Will the Saudi's Next King Mean for Israel?

Saudi King Abdullah, 91, is in worsening medical condition, posing the question of succession and what it will mean for Israel.

Shimon Cohen,

Failing health: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
Failing health: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
Reuters

Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz's serious medical condition suggests an imminent crisis in the country's future. 

To discuss the King's impending death and its anticipated effects, Arutz Sheva spoke with the chair of the Department of Israel and Middle Eastern Politics, Professor Alex Bligh. 

Professor Bligh, a former advisor to the prime minister on Arab affairs, believes that everything that happens in the Middle East has some sort of effect on Israel, and that looming instability in Saudi Arabia is likely to affect us. 

Bligh noted that Saudi Arabia and Israel have become important allies as they both fight to stop the Iranian nuclear program from developing. Their relationship has grown increasingly tight, especially in light of of their opposition to an agreement between Iran and Western powers. 

With regard to the Saudi royal family, Bligh explained that the process of transferring royal heritage was set up about seventy years ago. "The ruling stated that [founder of Saudi Arabia] Ibn Saud had 50 sons - and government should pass between the sons who will have a coalition with the other sons."

Bligh estimated that the 91-year-old King would not last much longer. Additionally, his designated successor Prince Salman, aged 79, is in the initial stages of Alzheimer's disease, meaning the crown might pass to the King's son by a Yemeni maidservant. 

According to Saudi law, a son born to a king by a maidservant, who is then released from servitude, is not allowed to become king. 

"The question now is if you break the Saudi law and appoint him to a term, there will be hundreds of candidates to become king in the future," Bligh explained. 

Moving to the hoped-for personality of the next king, Bligh said, "he should be able to talk to the Americans, but not speak Russian and Chinese. However, he should be able to make secret political deals, which is very important, especially in the Israeli context." 

"This is an unusual skill - to have an advanced Western education while also maintaining the Muslim faith endorsed by the heads of the tribes and religious scholars." 

The final succession decision will fall to two hundred princes, Bligh added. 

As to the Saudi's relationship with Iran, Bligh assured it would not change with the change in government. "The only thing that is certain is that the country will continue to see the significant threat posed to them by Iran." 




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