King Fahd of Saudi Arabia dies

From the BBC:
Reports from Saudi Arabia say that King Fahd has died. The reports quote hospital officials and sources close to the royal family, and Saudi TV interrupted regular programmes with Koran readings. King Fahd had been frail since suffering a stroke a decade ago and had delegated the running of the kingdom to Crown Prince Abdullah. King Fahd had led the oil rich kingdom since 1982. More soon.

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Nervous traders aside, the new king was the same person who has been running things for the past ten years. What gives people the idea that this will produce drastic changes?

It will probably be a non-event after the obligatory response by ADD traders. Same regime, same challenges/threats from within and outside the Kingdom.

it's a non-event. it was priced in months ago, and the royal family has been years planiing for this succession...

Abdullah is no spring chicken. Who is *his* successor?

I agree with you that there's little concern about Fahd's death on the short term...however, it is rumoured that Abdullah is a little more sympathetic to the Wahabis...and that's not good long term. Perhaps more instability in the country, more madrasas, more would seem. Perhaps that's not the case, but is a change that may matter long term.

The new Crown Prince is Prince Sultan, who is the father of Bandar, who was, until a couple of weeks ago the Ambassador to the US.

I've seen some vague reporting that the instability comes further down the line--Prince Sultan himself is 74, meaning he is likely a placeholder figure.

The trick will be who emerges in the next generation of leaders--most of whom are much more conservative than the current leadership. So the worry is about how things will shake out on that level. At least that's what it looks like from the other side of the world with incomplete information. : )

From today's Wash Post:

"In the parlor game of succession, an immediate question is who, if anyone, will follow Sultan as second deputy prime minister, effectively the number three position in the kingdom. Because Abdullah and Sultan have both suffered from ill health and are believed by Western analysts to be about 82 and 81 respectively, a new number three could expect to move up to the throne fairly quickly."

"Because there is no known consensus within the royal family about who should follow Sultan -- indeed, there is rampant speculation about rivalries and unresolved ambitions -- Saudi officials and outside analysts suggest the post might be left vacant indefinitely."