Amid rumors that the often ill Saudi King Abdullah may be brain dead, the king appears to strengthening the power bases of his sons within the kingdom of Saud.
King Abdullah turns 90 this year, Crown Prince Salman will be 77. The next generation of Saudi leaders, including Prince Miteb, are mostly in their 50s and 60s. In a country where top posts are often held for decades, the moves represent a changing of the guard for the inner circles of a family where major decisions are based on a consensus of views among senior princes.
Just this week the Abdullah elevated another one of sons Prince Sultan to Deputy Defense minster:
The move was made in a royal decree carried by state news agency SPA. It did not give a reason for the switch. Prince Sultan, who was the first Arab astronaut, was born in 1956 and is the oldest living son of Crown Prince Salman, the heir apparent and current defense minister. Princes who aspire to hold top positions in the conservative Islamic kingdom are seen by analysts as needing to have held jobs hat have a security role, such as those in the defense, foreign or interior ministries or the national guard.
Bolstering his son’s resumes is huge in the Kingdom of Saud because “unlike in European monarchies, the Saudi succession does not move from father to eldest son, but has instead passed down a line of brothers born to the kingdom’s founder, King Abdulaziz, that include both King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman.” As explained in the video below a generational shift will put the house of Saud and roughly 25% of the world’s oil supply up for grabs.