A new report by an opposition research group says Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and may succumb to his illness in six months.
“The King has been told by his medical team he may have as little as six months left to live,” the US-based Institute for (Persian) Gulf Affairs [I(P)GA] quoted US and Saudi sources as saying.
In his meeting with US President Barack Obama last month, King Abdullah was seen wearing a breathing tube.
On March 27, King Abdullah named his half-brother, Prince Muqrin, as the successor to the current Crown Prince Salman should he become king.
On April 15, the Saudi King also replaced spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who spearheaded the kingdom’s mission in the Syria crisis, with Youssef al-Idrisi.
“The recent scramble to designate a line of succession is not surprising given that King Abdullah has only a few months left, due to advancing age in addition to his terminal illness,” Rachel Hertzman of the I(P)GA said.
King Abdullah is also expected to announce further appointments in the coming days, the report added.
“Observers expect the news of Abdullah’s condition to lead to intense vying for power among the members of the vast ruling family,” it said.
The 90-year-old king’s health has declined over the past few years, during which he has been hospitalized several times.
Failing health, old age as well as the death of the king’s half-brothers have raised concerns about the future of the oil-rich country in the face of anti-government demonstrations.