The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

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Kingdom of Discontent: Prince Nayef’s Death and Saudi Arabia’s Unhappy Youth

Posted by vmsalama on June 17, 2012

took a five minute break from the Egyptian revolution to write about the passing of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Nayef and what it means for the kingdom…. enjoy!

Prince Nayef’s Death and Saudi Arabia’s Unhappy Youth

Jun 17, 2012 

by Vivian Salama

Daily Beast (click here for original link)

For Saudi Arabia, Prince Nayef’s death couldn’t come at a worse time. Vivian Salama on how the octogenarian leadership has struggled to meet the demands of its youth and minorities.

The death of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz al-Saud, who assumed the role less than eight months ago following the death of his brother, forces the kingdom to grapple with another shuffle in its top leadership at a time when regional instability is at a peak. Television and radio stations based in the Arab Gulf have suspended all regularly scheduled programming for wall-to-wall Quranic prayers or televised tributes during a period of mourning.

Nayef, who was about 77, was said to be in “good heath” by the deputy interior minister earlier this month and was scheduled to return after leaving to Switzerland in May for medical tests and a private vacation. Known to be more conservative than his half-brother King Abdullah, Nayef controlled the Interior Ministry since 1975 and has repeatedly frowned upon reforms he deemed too liberal for the kingdom, such as granting women the right to drive. He pioneered Saudi counterterrorism efforts and was intensely involved in police and intelligence activities. The 89-year-old king is likely to select recently appointed Minister of Defense Prince Salman as successor.

Mideast Saudi Arabia

Salman, who is only a year younger than Nayef, formerly served as governor of Riyadh, the capital. “He is not healthy either,” notes Sultan al-Qassimi, an independent analyst based in the neighboring United Arab Emirates. “He has suffered from a stroke and has in gone for extensive medical tests.”

In the midst of sweeping calls for reform across the Arab world, Saudi Arabia’s octogenarian leadership has struggled to meet the demands of its youth and minorities, while adhering to the conservative ideals expected from the religious center for 1 billion Muslims. Regional instability has caused a spike in crude prices—a blessing for some oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest—which were forced to boost spending last year to placate protesters. Demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, failed to materialize last year as citizens were offered pay increases and $67 billion for housing and funds for military and religious groups. It fearfully announced a $36 billion handout within days of the resignation of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak. (click here to read more…)


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