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King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud served as the de facto ruler since 1996 and king from 2005 to 2014 in the nation of Saudi Arabia. This past Friday, January 23, 2015, King Abdullah passed away from pneumonia at the age of 90. His half-brother, defense minister and crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, ascended the throne; he is 76 years old.
Read the Huffington Post article, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Dead which provides some background information. Then watch the video interview to hear more about the transition and changes from the King Abdullah regime to this new regime. Read the New York Times’ coverage, King Abdullah, a Shrewd Force Who Reshaped Saudi Arabia, Dies at 90 to learn how he gained respect as a steady force in the tumultuous Arab world. The United States worked consistently with King Abdullah on a number of global issues and his passing is seen by most as a great loss.
In keeping with Wahhabi traditions, Saudi King Abdullah [was] Laid to Rest (Wall Street Journal). The ceremony was humble, modest, and grave as is practiced by the traditions of Sunni Islam. Read this article and watch the video clip. Read about the wide spectrum of Mourners [that] Grieve at Funeral of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (Wall Street Journal).
President Obama stated, “As our countries worked together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship,…As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions.” In fact, according to the Daily Mail, President Obama [is] to miss Taj Mahal on his India trip and head to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences after death of King Abdullah. After you read this article, watch the video clips of past meetings between the two heads of state.
Some have expressed anxiety about the incoming King Salman regime. Read the New York Times article, New Saudi King and U.S. Face Crucial Point in the Relationship. Follow up with the Miami Herald’s article, New generation enters line to Saudi throne as king mourned. According to USA Today, the Saudi's new King Salman [is] likely to stay the course. And Reuters reports that the New Saudi king [is] seen holding line on OPEC policy to keep oil output high.
While there certainly are political and economic rivalries within the Saudi ruling class, there remains a collective objective of maintaining the nation’s path and in particular, its oil-rich interests. The new King and his regime will be followed closely by other nations and by the United States in particular. With change comes uncertainty and it will be up to King Salman to push forward a positive and beneficial agenda for the global role of Saudi Arabia.