Following the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, his brother Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has now been announced King of Saudi Arabia following a statement carried on the country’s state television.
Saudi Arabia is the top oil exporter and a member of the oil rich OPEC countries, the late King had a personal wealth himself of £18 billion. Saudi Arabia as a country is extremely important historically to the world’s Muslims as it’s believed to be the birthplace of Islam. However although many have been praising King Abdullah for his ‘modernisation’ within his rule, it’s still quite apparent that his country’s human rights practices are still abhorrent to many in the western world with public floggings been met to anyone who has fallen fowl of it’s extremely harsh Islamic teaching.
Only recently was Raif Badawi, a liberal Islamist and blogger sentenced to 1000 lashes of a cane and it has also stoned and beaten and even sentenced to death homosexuals and women accused of adultery or infidelity. Those who have praised him; including the former Prime Minister and Middle Eastern ‘Peace’ envoy, Tony Blair have pointed to more positive attitudes now adopted in Saudi Arabia such as the introduction of education for women in the country. However Saudi Arabia still is one of the countries that human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regularly monitor, and it often calls on members to take urgent action on.
Following his inauguration the new King Salman has named his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir. Today the following announcement surrounding King Abdullah was made, “His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning.”
King Abdullah who was 90 years old and was suffering from illness for quite recently has ruled Saudi Arabia as King for the past 8 years (since 2006), but had run the country for 10 years prior to this as a de facto ruler after it’s previous King Fahd had become incapacitated following a stroke.
Countries throughout the world will be closely watching the new King’s progress amidst the turmoil across the Middle East, and also on the country’s direction in terms of it’s human rights of it’s citizens. King Salman is a self-appointed champion of Sunni Islam and the US hopes that the country will remain a close ally in the face of the ISIS threat that has engulfed other middle eastern countries such as Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia’s was a strong influence in the overthrow of President Mubarak’s Egyptian government in 2012 when they intervened militarily in support for it’s current government, they also have supported Syrian rebels against President Bashar al-Assad.
The new King, who is 79, was crown prince and the Saudi Arabian Defence Minister since 2012. He was governor of Riyadh province for five decades before that.
Saudi Arabia, holds more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil and is influential to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim population, as the King is regarded as the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” in Mecca and Medina.