The aging leadership in Saudi Arabia is in transition, as King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has left the country for “an undisclosed destination,” a US expert says.
Simon Henderson, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said in a recent article that there are “fresh concerns about health” of the Saudi king, and that there is “widespread speculation” that the monarch “will head to New York City for medical treatment.”
On August 28, the official Saudi Press Agency said Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz was tasked with running the country temporarily while King Abdullah was on a “special leave.”
The agency did not elaborate on the details of the king’s trip.
“Having Crown Prince Salman stand in for the monarch is no particular relief,” Henderson stated, adding that there are “concerns about his (Salman) own health and his ability to focus on detail.”
The Saudi king named Salman crown prince on June 18, two days after 79-year-old Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz died outside the kingdom.
“An additional worry is that the House of Saud has no obvious crown-prince-in-waiting behind him (Salman),” the US expert said in his article.
Henderson also commented on the Saudi Foreign Ministry, saying, “Saudi foreign policy capacity is already strained due to the ill health of longtime Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.”