Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah passed away last Friday. May he rest in peace.
I'm not going to delve into what the new Saudi Arabia will look like since many have already done that ever since they heard the King was ill. Instead, I will focus on two details that captured my attention...
The King passed away on Friday. On Saturday, more than 10 world leaders were present to pay their respects to the Saudi Royal Family and meet the successor...except one: US President Barack Obama, who arrives today (Tuesday) with his delegation. Another interesting detail is the presence of Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Johnny Dymond, from the BBC, said that “the long list of dignitaries travelling to Riyadh is testament to Saudi Arabia's global standing.” - doubt the accuracy of this assessment.
When someone dies (regardless of its bad character and misdeeds) people are required to become bountiful and kind; which explains statements like “[the king] was always candid and had the courage of his convictions” (Pres. Obama), "[the king will be reminded for his] commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths" (PM David Cameron) and "[the king's] grounded, considered and responsible leadership" (Pres. Reuven Rivlin) - protocol demands such level of hypocrisy. Nevertheless, what's wrong with the whole scenario (apart from the presence of the usual western lackeys who will not take advantage to break free, in these capital times)?
President Obama was in India, during the weekend, as per PM Modi's invitation to participate in the celebrations of India's Republic Day. India and the US are seeking a “five-fold increase in bilateral trade, to $500 billion, by 2020” (source), therefore it's easy to comprehend why President Obama couldn't possibly rush off to Saudi Arabia without addressing US' national interests first (therefore a phone call sufficed). Besides, now that America has found a more reliable partner to fight terrorism, and is energy-independent, it doesn't need to bow down to the Saudis any longer. In sum, the Saudi standing, as far as the US is concerned, has increasingly decreased. A new era is nascent.
Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Riyadh last Saturday: Saudi Arabia's main foe was present to pay his respects. It is safe to assume that Iran was also there to feel the air and study the new rival, King Salman.
From what it is said, the Saudi way of selecting royal successors is based not on strategy but rather on tradition, otherwise why would they – in this crucial political conjuncture – announce a king suffering from both Alzheimer's and dementia? Such a selection is strategically dangerous and may open various interesting opportunities to adversaries. Iran is counting on that and its presence should be understood as a warning: the Islamic Revolution is ready to take the wheel of the region (and if we take into account the pre-Coup carried out by the Houthis in Yemen...).
Indeed, Saudi Arabia's standing is decreasing by the minute when the wolves come for dinner.
King Salman has asked the Allegiance Council to acknowledge Prince Muqrin as his heir – it's said that Muqrin (a fighter pilot by training, former governor of Medina and head of the intelligence) will be the de facto king due to King Salman's ailment, but since he's not loved by all of his relatives – due to his blood line – Saudi Arabia's opponents will scramble to sabotage him from within.
Palace intrigue will now start. Interesting times lie ahead...
(Source of Image: BBC)