Saudi Arabian King Abdallah died this weekend placing his half-brother Crown Prince Salman into the position as Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman and elevated his brother to the role of Crown Prince Muqrin. The new King Salman was born on December 31, 1935 making his age to be seventy-nine with less than optimal conditions of health as are all those who are in the immediate line to the throne. The new Saudi Crown Prince Muqrin was born September 15, 1945 making his age to be sixty-nine. Reports on both of the Saudi Royals’ health are poor or worse making one of their chief immediate duties to soberly choose from amongst the children and grandchildren and seek out which ones are to be groomed further and placed, once their attributes and attitudes have been referenced, cross-referenced, thoroughly parsed, dissected, itemized, examined and everything verified are they to be placed in line for grooming to be the next rulers of the kingdom. This will take a matter of years despite the evident necessity to find the likely path the leadership will take so as to make such explained and verified by the religious hierarchy and all others whose input will have been sought and those whose positions make their acceptance more important and necessary. The next generations of monarchs will need training in governing, budgeting, foreign policy, Koranic knowledge and the other necessities of ruling. They will be required to prove their worth and will likely be thrown into position to rule provinces or cities, be placed in liaison positions with the religious leaders of Saudi Arabia with an emphasis on the leading Wahhabi Imams, proper military training and service, and knowledge of the ins and outs of the oil industry and its use in international diplomacy. All of these are items which will have many in the nation concerned and a select few outside of Saudi Arabia. Still, there will be some ramifications which many will find affecting their daily lives and others which Middle East experts will dwell upon for hours if permitted the time during interviews. We will try to hit some of the immediate ramifications and hope we are sufficiently accurate or at the least no more inaccurate than the average expert despite being amateurs by comparison.
We can expect to expect little if any changes initially, especially the price per barrel of oil as the new monarchs were likely included in many of the planning, diplomatic events, implementation and OPEC preparations as well as the reasoning and diplomatic and foreign reasoning for keeping their production at such a high rate driving the price down below fifty dollars a barrel. We will probably witness a more conservative series of actions initially as the change in the Saudi Arabian leadership will force the new leadership to be security conscious and very concerned with intra-national as well as extra-national security with both having heavy dependence on the military. There will be the potential that Saudi Arabia will intervene should the continuing situation in Yemen threatens their southern border or should Iran move to impose their influence or should either the al-Qaeda or the Houthis take control and threaten the shipping lanes to and from the Red Sea and threaten the shipping lanes into and out of the Red Sea as well as the Suez Canal and its access with the Mediterranean Sea, Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, Saudi Arabia will become more introverted and keep much of the rulings of the new Royal Family members addressing exactly what their expectations within their lands, especially concerning women and other matters which can be tied to Islam and the interpretations of the Quran and how it will affect their rule. So, what can be expected is for those outside of Saudi Arabia are similar to what the world has witnessed for the past year or so when Saudi Arabia was ruled by King Abdallah as the new monarch will not be straying far from his policies and giving some time to pass before stepping out on their own paths.
Formerly King Abdallah had taken a path not previously traveled and was very slowly but inexorably liberalizing the Islamic strict restrictions against women. He permitted women to leave the house and shop unescorted and to vote in some local elections provided they were escorted by a male family member. These relaxed societal laws may not be considered to be lessening restrictions for women under Western societal standards but they were very extreme for anywhere under the strict Sharia interpretations by the Saudi government. We can pretty much forget the idea of permitting women to drive in Saudi Arabia in the foreseeable future. New King Salman is considered to be quite more security conscious and libel to use force of arms rather than the subtle force of diplomacy or the using of the price of oil to bring adversaries to their knees or even play a part if bringing the Soviet Union to its timely end and thus assist in liberating all of Western Europe. Using a similar low pricing of a barrel of oil is strangling Russia and bringing many of the fracking and other costly methods from pumping because it has temporarily become unprofitable in the United States. Still, there is one more target which is being affected by this low oil price, and that entity is Iran as it is being forced to sell oil at next to no profit over taking it out of the oil fields, whether refining it or shipping it out as crude. This lowering of the price for oil by Saudi Arabia has been their only real weapon they have by which they are able to drive any competition out of business or deny an adversarial threat such as Iran of the funds to continue any development of arms or to end any adventures such a threat may have planned. This use of driving the price of oil down through production at capacity by Saudi Arabia was necessitated by the lack of resolve by the Europeans and the United States to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons or stepping up efforts to curtail ISIS as well as al-Qaeda on their northern and southern borders respectively. It will remain to be seen if the new leadership will continue this assault by way of oil prices as it also has required the Saudi Royal Family to utilize their reserves of funds to sustain efforts within Saudi Arabia to maintain funding which prevents the population from becoming unstable as well as funding the Wahhabi institutions worldwide.
The change of leadership through succession has been fortuitous as Iranian adventurism has not been stamped out as of yet by the Saudi Arabian oil war which has been their use of monetary sanctions by another means which they have utilized to replace the sanctions lifted by United States President Barack Obama. Iran was still capable of arming the Houthis in Yemen which just this week completed their push to topple the government. One might have expected that the United States would have been more proactive in preventing this blatant coup by the Iranian armed rebels as Yemen is one of the United States allies and refueling ports for the United States Navy despite the incident of the attack by al-Qaeda on the USS Cole in October 2000. Yemen has now become another failed state where the main governing forces are rebel groups or terrorist entities. This adds Yemen to the list of Lebanon, Somalia, and Libya.
Additionally there are the nations in north and central Africa which are currently fighting for their survival against terrorist entities which include but not limited to Nigeria, Mali, Kenya, South Sudan, Chad, Cameroon and Central African Republic. A number of these nations are facing threats from Boko Haram which is an entity similar to ISIS and one that had identified with al-Qaeda but has recently claimed allegiance with ISIS. ISIS is another threat which has Saudi Arabia concerned especially since recently there have been fighting between ISIS forces and the military of Saudi Arabia in the northwestern province. These assaults have been more of a test of resolve and with the recent death of King Abdallah and the ascension of Crown Prince Salman into the ruling role, his somewhat more militant attitude could be exactly what may be necessary in Saudi Arabia considering the threats on its northern and southern borders as well as the reassertion of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Sinai Peninsula and their threat against Egypt, a crucial and necessary ally of the Saudis and a traditional supporter of the Royal Family. The changes in Saudi rulers will still require a period of time to fully understand the coming changes and will need to be watched before coming to any lasting and necessary changes in policies. This was something which was expected though it still happened fairly rapidly which often makes such changes problematic but the Saudis have handled such changes in their ruling structure better than others. For the meantime any of the changes which may have been in the planning will likely be terminated until the changeover is complete and then all will see. Until then the world will need to necessarily simply wait and see and be lenient though in trying times as the present lenience is a luxury which one may not have the necessary time to wait.
Beyond the Cusp