April 17, 2014
Washington DC – Multiple sources in Washington and Riyadh confirmed to the Institute for Gulf Affairs that the king of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, 83*, is suffering from terminal lung cancer. The king has been told by his medical team he may have as little as six months left to live. The sources requested anonymity.
The news of Abdullah’s cancer was first tweeted on March 31st, 2014, by Ali AlAhmed, the director of the Gulf Institute.
The chain-smoking king was seen wearing a breathing tube during his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on March 28 as well as April 4, when he returned to Riyadh from his spring retreat in Rawdat Khuraim.
Abdullah’s near-imminent death seems to be the driver behind the king’s unprecedented move to appoint his trusted half-brother Muqrin, 69, as a second crown prince – the first-ever appointment in the country’s history. Muqrin’s appointment was followed by the dismissal of Bandar Bin Sultan as intelligence chief two days ago, in addition to another round of appointments to be announced as early as tomorrow, Friday.
Observers expect the news of Abdullah’s condition to lead to intense vying for power among the members of the vast ruling family. Rachel Hertzman, policy analyst at the Institute for Gulf Affairs said, “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.”
Next week, IGA, will publish an in-depth exclusive description of the Saudi Monarchy’s infighting for the throne and the impact of the king’s cancer on the increasing struggle.
Next week brief includes:
– Who is fighting whom in the Saudi game of the thrones?
– Will the ongoing U.S. involvement in Saudi succession bring instability to the monarchy?
– What was behind Turki AlFaisal’s dismissal from the intelligence post?
*According to the Saudi government official press agency www.spa.gov.sa , the king was born in 1931. Most American sources record his birth in 1924, making him 90.