King Fahd of Saudi Arabia Dies


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Rebar
August 1, 2005, 05:06 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/images/171770/0_21_fahd_king.jpg
The portly, goateed Fahd inadvertently helped fuel the rise of Islamic extremism by making concessions to hard-liners in an effort to boost his Islamic credentials. But he also brought the kingdom closer to the United States and agreed to a step that enraged many conservatives: basing U.S. troops on Saudi soil after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,164348,00.html

This could spell a lot of trouble. While he was mostly a figurehead for a long time, figureheads are important in their culture. I suspect a lot of upheaval in Saudi, which will drive oil prices up, and could be the start of a civil war.

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Cosmoline
August 1, 2005, 05:12 PM
Yup. It's true that he hasn't been the true center of power for some time, but as long as he had a pulse his mere presence was enough to keep the fragile house of Saud together. We'll have to see what happens next. It could be bad. SA is home to the most radical of radical clerics and the most extreme Islamic sect out there. They make Iran and the Talibs look like libertarians. If the SA street takes control of the palace and the oil fields. Yikes! Not good.

1 old 0311
August 1, 2005, 05:15 PM
Oil hit $62 a barrel today before dropping. With this clown dead I can't imagine anything being worse.

Kevin

CAnnoneer
August 1, 2005, 05:29 PM
-1 dictator in the world is a happy occasion.

Let's rejoice for now, at least until it becomes clear what the consequences will be.

NMshooter
August 1, 2005, 05:30 PM
When I was in Dhahran this very headline was the one I was most worried about.

Civil war in Saudi Arabia is possible.

I wonder how this will affect the rest of the Middle East?

Cosmoline
August 1, 2005, 05:33 PM
Civil war in SA would be very bad. We pulled our forces out, and sending them back in if unrest were to develop would be nearly impossible. We'd have to rely on Jordan's military to go in and settle things. It could turn into a real nightmare scenario. Of all the Islamic powder kegs, SA is the worst. The most oil and the most religious insanity. The royal family members tend to be playboys and are friendly with the west, but the street in SA is full of genuine nutters. VERY dangerous people. The ones behind 9/11, in fact. If that hornet's nest gets knocked over and kicked, I don't want to be anywhere near the ensuing swarm. I've heard ardent Muslims speak with abject fear of the Wahabi sect and how absolutely insane its followers are. Simply put, Saudi Arabia is the heart of darkness. It's the heart of Islamic terror and the heart of anti-American sentiment.

LawDog
August 1, 2005, 05:34 PM
King Fahd of Saudi Arabia had a really nasty stroke in 1995, the results of which left him slightly more self-aware than a rutabaga.

Crown Prince Abdullah took over, and has been running Saudi Arabia for the last ten years. Now he gets to step up and do it officially.

Everyone from diplomats to oil execs to Bedou shepards has been dealing with Abdullah for the least ten years, and everyone has been expecting this development.

Nothing is going to change.

LawDog

scubie02
August 1, 2005, 05:42 PM
Each man's death diminishes me

NMshooter
August 1, 2005, 05:47 PM
So the question of succession has already been taken care of? That's good to know, in 1996 things seemed a bit different.

Rutabaga. :evil:

Dave R
August 1, 2005, 07:01 PM
I remember an earlier article (Readers Digest?) worrying mightily that his death would destabilize US relationships with the mideast, because Saudi Arabia is the "big dog" in the area, and they have been more pro-USA than most.

Anyone know whether Prince Abdullah is equally pro-USA?

Standing Wolf
August 1, 2005, 08:54 PM
Kings in 2005? Incredible!

stevelyn
August 1, 2005, 11:52 PM
Civil war in SA would be very bad. We pulled our forces out, sending them back in during a time of unrest would be nearly impossible.

You are forgetting we have troops on the other side of the border in Iraq. Getting force into SA would be a matter of crossing an imaginary line.

But why in the Hell would we want to get involved in, or even care what happens in the internal conflict of a sovereign nation? :scrutiny: :banghead:

I would not accept orders to go and fight in someone else's internal conflict. It does not threaten me. It does not affect my way of life. And near as I can tell, the average Saudi dosen't care or have a clue as to who I am.

As usual this is going to be about the price of a barrel of oil. Let'em keep it and starve and to death in the desert. We have our own. Let's drill for it. :fire:

DeseoUnTaco
August 2, 2005, 01:45 AM
Civil war has been looming in SA for a long time now. Some people think it's inevitable, it's just a question of timing. The bottom line is they have an ocean of oil under the sand and a lot of people would be happy to fight over it. Right now one particular group controls it, but there are plenty of others wanting to knock them down. That's how it is with any huge deposit of resources like that in any country. SA has the unique position of being the geographical center of a major world religion which has plenty of extremists right now, and a weak not very popular government, and lots of unhappiness at home (unemployment, etc). So yeah, it all looks bad for SA's stability. The things keeping them going are a) backing from US taxpayers b) some help from some state-controlled imams c) a repressive regime that's not shy about doing whatever they need to do to stay in power. The value of US backing is questionable at this point, because the US is already in the process of losing two other wars against Moslems, and they would certainly lose any type of war in SA. Alas for them, the whole system is based on nepotism (ie, you get to be a fighter pilot by being from the royal family) so even their military and ability to repress the population are not competent. Oh and they rely on foreign labor to keep the country going but their policies have made it impossible for foreigners (especially Westerners) to "put down roots" in the Kingdom, so the people who are technically competent to keep their only real industry running are likely to leave when/if trouble starts.

There's also more infighting (including assassinations) within the royal family itself than a lot of outsiders probably realize. Also, most of the rulers (royal family, etc) have stashed tremendous amounts of money out of the country, in the form of investments, real estate, bank accounts, etc. So if things start looking like they are going to take a turn for the worse, the people who should be leading might suddenly all disapear and live out their lives in luxury in France or wherever.

So, doesn't look good for the House of Saud! King or no king.

Oil prices may go up, but all this doom-and-gloom talk about $100 oil can't happen. There are too many other alternatives to oil that become competitive at oil prices > $60. Food-grade vegetable oil, which can be used as a substitute for petroleum in many applications, is only about $60/barrel, so there's already an option we could start using.

USMC_2674
August 2, 2005, 11:03 AM
Crown Prince Abdullah has already been appointed King... this occurred Monday Morning.

He then named Prince Sultan as his Crown Prince meaning that if Abdullah dies, Sultan will be appointed King.

There really is only one position up for grabs in the Saudi royal family right now and that is Deputy Crown Prince.

A couple of names could contend for that position... the most popular choice among the Bedouins is Prince Salmaan. He currently is the Deputy of Riyadh and so would actually have less power as the Deputy Crown Prince than he has now; so I'm not sure if he would take the position or push for it.

Prince Bandar, Prince Naief, and several others could be appointed Deputy Crown Prince but the only one who really has anything to lose would be Bandar, as right now he is Amb to the US and thus has a lot of party time.

Anyways, it is a somewhat interesting time, but as Lawdog pointed out, nothing will come of this. The only way I see Civil War occuring is if Prince Salmaan gets fed up with life and decides to revolt... THEN you'd have some problems, but he is very comfortable as Deputy of Riyadh (he has more power in that position than anybody except for King and Crown Prince).

If he decide to revolt, life would be very very interesting though. All of the Bedouins would support him and they populate a majority of the Saudi empire. For those who don't know, Salmaan is the son of a Bedouin concubine and is one of the 7 Saudi Princes of King Fahd. The other 6 all belong to the "royal" family through bloodlines of their mother as well, but Salmaan is favored. Honestly, the only reason he is alive is because the Bedouins would revolt if the other 6 did something to him.

So, Abdullah will keep him happy. There will be some disgruntled, but nobody didn't see this coming.

As an aside, I grew up over in Saudi from 1981-1991 (5-14 years old)... I speak Arabic fluently and then served as a translator in the Marine Corps. My father worked directly for Prince Salmaan in Saudi for 8 of those years over there and we went to his house several times a year for dinner and to play with his family.

Semper Fidelis,

Kent

HankB
August 2, 2005, 11:17 AM
USMC, thanks for the (somewhat) reassuring insights. Hopefully none of the other regional wackos (Yemenis, Iranians, Syrians, other "insurgents") will get involved.

I'll try to look at the bright side - even if there's unrest, Saudis still won't have to worry about woman drivers.

RevDisk
August 2, 2005, 12:34 PM
Crown Prince Abdullah is a much better King than Fahd. Lawdog, depending on who you believe, Abdullah wasn't in complete control after Fahd suffered a stroke. His favorite wife and son were influencing his decisions while he was mentally incapacitated. (ie, probably writing his signature on whatever they wanted)

There are basically three types of folks in the Saudi royal family. The religious wackos, the Royalists (hedonistic corrupt folks) and the more old school folks. Abdullah is more the old school type, and doesn't care for spending billions upon billions on palaces and such. He's also not a Wahabbi. It would be unwise to underestimate him just because he likes a somewhat simpler lifestyle, it

King Abdullah and Prince Bandar do not get along. Rumor says that Abdullah once got so annoyed at Bandar, he took off his shoe and winged it at Bandar. Bandar's been Saudi Arabia's money man in the US for a long time. Bribing/influencing all the right people, including and especially the Bush family. If I was Bandar, might be a good time to retire to France or Switzerland.

I see the situation going one of two ways. Either Abdullah clearing house (which I think rather likely) or pretending to ignore all the problems. If he blotches the purge, civil war. If he ignores the problems, civil war down the road a few years. I don't think Prince Salmaan would rise up against the current King, but stranger things have happened. I could see Salmaan and the Bedouins siding with the King if things hit the fan.

Either way, the hashishins will be busy.

Oh yea. The Wahabbi sect of Islam is our main enemy in the WoT. They just lost a big chunk of their support in Riyadh. Very far from all of it, but a decent chunk. I'm really hoping Abdullah cracks down on the Wahabbi movement, but I don't see it happening with anything less than civil war.


You are forgetting we have troops on the other side of the border in Iraq. Getting force into SA would be a matter of crossing an imaginary line.

Yea, and invading Iraq will be a cakewalk! With people throwing flowers in our path. :scrutiny:

We've heard that tune before. Invading SA would involve a lot more than crossing the borders. I think the Saudis would blow up their oil infrastructure if America invaded.


Anyone know whether Prince Abdullah is equally pro-USA?

He's pro-Saudi. He's not exactly pro-USA, but not exactly anti-USA either.

Harry Tuttle
August 2, 2005, 03:57 PM
2 weeks ago, Bandar resigned his 22 year post as Saudi ambassador to Washington DC...

Thursday, July 21, 2005; Posted: 6:58 p.m. EDT (22:58 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Saudi Arabia's U.S. ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, is resigning for what the Saudi foreign ministry said Wednesday were "private reasons."

Bandar, whose father, Prince Sultan, is the Saudi defense minister, has been in the post for 22 years and is considered the dean of Washington's diplomatic corps. As ambassador from the world's largest oil-producing nation, Bandar has enjoyed considerable White House access and influence in Washington circles.

He worked hard at maintaining strong ties between the United States and the conservative oil-rich monarchy. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, however, the Saudis have come under pressure to counter terrorists more aggressively and to block any financial support going to militant groups from within Saudi Arabia.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. That, and reports that some of his and his wife's charitable contributions may have ended up in the hands of two Saudis believed to have close ties to the hijackers, contributed to tensions with Washington.

"This is a war and we are in it together," Bandar said in an interview with The New York Times in November 2002. His wife, Princess Haifa al-Faisal, said she was outraged by any suggestions of a connection to terrorists. "All I wanted to do was to give some help to someone in need," she told the Times.

On Wednesday State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, "We are saddened by his depature. He was a great friend and valued adviser."

At the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan released a statement saying, "In troubled times, U.S. Presidents past and present have relied upon Ambassador Bandar's advice. In good times, they have enjoyed his wit, charm, and humor. Throughout his tenure Ambassador Bandar has remained a close, steadfast friend to the United States."

Bandar's resignation coincides with uncertainty about the country's ruling hierarchy. King Fahd is seriously ill, and Prince Sultan could move up in any reshuffling of authority. Bandar himself has been rumored to be in line for a top security post in Riyadh.

Bandar has been on a summer-long vacation, fueling reports that he was resigning. Saudi officials had been disputing those reports.

In Riyadh a foreign ministry official told The Associated Press that Prince Turki al-Faisal, another member of the extensive Saudi royal family, would replace Bandar as ambassador.

Rebar
August 2, 2005, 04:00 PM
Bribing/influencing all the right people, including and especially the Bush family.
Can you provide any evidence that the Bush family was bribed?

RevDisk
August 2, 2005, 05:16 PM
Can you provide any evidence that the Bush family was bribed?

I said bribing/influencing.

I recommend "Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude" by Robert Baer. It explains the process better than I could.

Warbow
August 2, 2005, 05:56 PM
Thanks for the analysis, USMC_2674.

ak47nevada
August 2, 2005, 06:02 PM
The Bush family must be very sad that their great buddy ol pal is dead. And no, this isn't a negative remark about the Bush family. I worship the Bushes on my knees like a good American, Limbaugh Hannity and Savage told me so.

Brett Bellmore
August 2, 2005, 07:54 PM
Rumor has it that the Saudi royal family has all the oil infrastructure in the kingdom rigged with explosives, (Possibly even "dirty" bombs.) so that if it looks like they're losing control, whoever comes after them inherits a worthless ruin. So civil war there could be a little hard on the world economy.

Rebar
August 2, 2005, 08:11 PM
The Bush family must be very sad that their great buddy ol pal is dead. And no, this isn't a negative remark about the Bush family. I worship the Bushes on my knees like a good American, Limbaugh Hannity and Savage told me so.
Yeah, because it'd be a better idea to alienate the place where we get a bunch of our oil.
So civil war there could be a little hard on the world economy.
The Islamofacists would like nothing better than to plunge the world back into the 14th century.

rwc
August 2, 2005, 10:05 PM
Any chance of Abdullah declaring a constitutional monarchy and trying to set up a glide path out of the dilemma he is in? Looking at Jordan's king Abdullah, or Europeans like Juan Carlos, Prince Rainier, etc. makes it seem like a better deal than the tough choices he has now.

Of course the problem then would be having more than one election. I.e. one man, one vote, once. The wahabbis win and they have a theocracy that makes Iran look progressive...

RevDisk
August 2, 2005, 11:50 PM
Any chance of Abdullah declaring a constitutional monarchy and trying to set up a glide path out of the dilemma he is in? Looking at Jordan's king Abdullah, or Europeans like Juan Carlos, Prince Rainier, etc. makes it seem like a better deal than the tough choices he has now.

About the same chance as me winning the lottery, getting struct by lightning twice and landing a date with Angelina Jolie in the same week. Possible, but rather unlikely.


Of course the problem then would be having more than one election. I.e. one man, one vote, once. The wahabbis win and they have a theocracy that makes Iran look progressive...

No, the problem would be civil war. Oh yea, and the oil fields probably getting smoked.

rwc
August 3, 2005, 10:24 AM
Revdisk - as the saying goes, if you don't play, you can't win. :D Good luck with Angelina.

King Abdullah reportedly is no fool. I think civil war is a risk, but most of the muslim world has a stake in stability there due to control of Mecca. The U.S. getting involved militarily would be problematic for just that reason. It would make Falluja look like a walk in the park. Jordan and Egypt would be the only armed forces who could go in, but would they want to...

As a side note - I wouldn't expect much from Prince Bandar. "Bandar Bush" (as he is called around Hyannisport and parts of TX) is well known to be not the most devout Muslim and I believe that is a problem in SA even if you aren't a Wahibbi.

Rebar
August 3, 2005, 10:48 AM
King Abdullah reportedly is no fool.
Perhaps not. But what if he's assassinated?

USMC_2674
August 3, 2005, 01:03 PM
If King Abdullah was to declare a constituional monarchy (i.e Jordan), then one of his siblings would have him assassinated. Basically, they don't care about being King, they simply are party kids and if the government changed, they wouldn't be able to sit around living off the King's charity.

So, the only person who could possibly set up a new government is Salmaan. They would be afraid of killing him, because of his support amongst the Bedouins; believe me when I say they WOULD revolt if he was killed. If Salmaan ever decided to take over Saudi, he could probably do it... with a lot of lost life. But, again, Salmaan doesn't have a lot to gain by doing so personally... he is kept in luxury by the family because of his roots, but hated at the same time by those who feed him. He is the reason that Fahd was so popular of a King as well... hell, Fahd married Salmaan's mother to gain political favor with the Bedouins. She was a Bedouin princess of sorts and well loved by the people.

I have been out of it for the last few weeks, but last night I talked with a friend of mine in Salmaan's employ, and the rumor is that Bandar left the Ambassodorship in order to come back to Saudi to take over the Deputy Crown Prince position under Sultan. The family basically decided to pull the plug on Fahd, and gave him a week's notice to get back if he wanted the job.

So, if you ask me, nothing will come of this "turmoil" and things will continue for some time. Abdullah will play nice with the US, while making a decent effort to help on the war in terror. And his siblings will continue to funnel money to the terrorists :)

My 3 cents.

Semper Fidelis,

Kent

rwc
August 3, 2005, 07:05 PM
Decent editorial on this topic in the WSJ today.

USMC_2674
August 4, 2005, 10:09 AM
Link? Text? Thanks!

mete
August 4, 2005, 10:41 AM
King Fahd dies , the president of Mauritania goes to the funeral.Big mistake because while the president is gone there is a coup !! He wasn't permitted back into the country. Isn't politics wonderful.

rwc
August 4, 2005, 02:43 PM
Sorry, I don't have an online subscription ($) and read the WSJ the old fashioned way.

Waitone
August 4, 2005, 10:19 PM
Saudi government has had a "special relationship" with every American president since they figured out the place floated on oil. That relationship is much the same as the relationship the director of the FED has with the same presidents. Both are interested in stability. Both want controlled growth in the economy. Both regulate the supply of their respective commodities. All US presidents have maintained cordial relationship with both institutions.

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