The succession struggle is quite for real in Arabia these days...after all it's called 'Saudi' Arabia. Among other reasons this accounts for the Saudis saying one thing one week regarding the Americans and their bases in 'the Kingdom', and something else the next. King Fahd is barely alive, Crown Prince Abdullah is barely in control, and over in the bowels of the Empire, it's actually King Bandar who rules, his father Defense Minister back in
Arabia eyeing the prize for himself should Abdullah slip...or be pushed (as the CIA did to Crown Prince Hassan in the last days of King Hussein's rule in Amman).
Saudis in secret moves for new king
Paul Kelso and Giles Tremlett, Madrid
[The Guardian - 9 August2002]:
Members of the inner circle of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia have held a series
of secret meetings in Geneva to discuss the succession amid fears that the
ailing king's health is fast deteriorating, it was reported yesterday.
The 79-year-old king, who has suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several
years, has been in his palatial villa in the Swiss city since May and last
week had a successful operation on a cataract.
But according to the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds his health is
failing, and this has prompted discussions on the sensitive issue of the
According to the paper two potential successors, Prince Sultan and Prince
Salman, have met secretly with the king's inner circle in the past few
weeks. The king's son, Mohamad, who is also his chief-of-staff, is said to
have led talks aimed at finding an alternative to Crown Prince Abdullah, the
kingdom's de facto ruler.
The US government is reported to be opposed to the Abdullah succession
because of his position on Israel and, more recently, Iraq. This week the
Saudi government indicated it would deny US forces access to bases in the
kingdom in the event of an attack on Iraq but insisted it had not asked US
troops to leave its bases near Riyadh.
Prince Abdullah's peace initiative for Palestine is also said to have
damaged his standing in Washington.
The Saudi succession has the potential to destabilise the entire region. The
ruling dynasty is under increasing international pressure to prove that it
has not nurtured or encouraged al-Qaida elements, and a briefing paper
presented to the Pentagon recently suggested the country should be viewed as
a potential US enemy.
Internal dissent is also on the increase in Saudi Arabia.
Despite doubts about his health, rumours persist in Spain and Geneva that
King Fahd is due to arrive at his holiday palace in Marbella at the weekend.
The Mar-Mar palace, an imitation of the White House with its own private
mosque, has begun hiring 500 extra staff, according to Sur, the local
The last time King Fahd stayed at his palace was in 1999. On that occasion
he had to be lowered by a mechanical platform from his private jet. Arriving
with seven aircraft, the king reportedly also brought his own mobile
surgery. He and his retinue were said to have spent £50m during their