Running a kingdom is definitely a tough job. And no one can realize it better than the ailing 88-year-old Saudi King Abdullah especially in recent times when he had to take the hectic job of nominating a new Crown Prince for the second time in nine months.
This time following the death of the 79 year-old Crown Prince Nayef who in the last few months of his life added a stick to his wardrobe and regained a steroidal puffiness, but could still not recover from the effects of cancer speculated to be leukemia. Despite the fact that the demise of Prince Nayef has plunged the entire Saudi nation in grief, it will definitely be Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the next best in-line candidate for the throne who would have welcomed the news with open arms. Why? Because for him it was just not the news of Nayef’s death but also a call that actually sounded to him like: “Congratulations you are being promoted”. And for a person who was the governor of Riyadh for nearly five decades, the call does matter a lot. But, by the end of the call Prince Salman must have understood that he is no spring chicken.
With good times approaching fast, the forces of aging are even at work and that also….at a faster rate. There is no certainty as to whether he will be able to enjoy his pre-king days of glory for long. He has already experienced a stroke and despite physiotherapy, both his arms are completely non-functional. And with the history of health problems running down Saudi lineage, Salman’s two oldest sons, Fahd and Ahmed, have already died because of heart attack. Maybe their last words to their father were: “Dad….just don’t give up” important thing to understand here is that Crown Prince Salman might be regarded as a proponent of peaceful national reforms, but for a person who is virtually on his deathbed, what productive can you realistically expect? A person who is someone good for nothing because a stroke has left him nearly paralyzed.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requires people with fresh blood, and this includes people who are somewhere in their 60s at least. For good or for bad they will be in a position to introduce reforms that they can sign from their own hands. But with a fairly large brigade of the heirs in 70s it will be gerontocracy that will dominate the kingdom.