Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saudi Arabia's old regime grows older

The death of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud highlights the decrepit nature of the Saudi leadership.

Mai Yamani

"The contrast between the deaths, within two days of each other, of Libya's Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi and Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz is one of terminal buffoonery versus decadent gerontocracy. And their demise is likely to lead to very different outcomes: liberation for the Libyans and stagnation for the Saudis.

But the death of Sultan, at 86, marks the beginning of a critical period of domestic and foreign uncertainty for the Kingdom. After all, Sultan's half-brother, King Abdullah, 87, is still hospitalized in Riyadh, following a major operation last month. The regime is aging and ailing, and is perceived by the population as being on life support.....

Denial remains the Saudi rulers' dominant mindset. The royals believe that custodianship of Islam's holy places gives them a special status in the Arab world, and that no revolution can touch them. And, if anyone tries, they will follow Naif's counsel: “What we took by the sword we will hold by the sword.

Throughout the region, newly mobilized (and thus empowered) Arab youth are trying to move their countries towards reform and liberalization. Saudi Arabia, unfortunately, is moving in the opposite direction."

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