Death of Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saudi and the intrigues around the Saudi throne.
The most likely contender for the throne, Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz al Saud, is a hardcore adherent of the Saudi hegemony. His coming to power will accelerate the creation of a “new Caliphate” founded upon the GCC, including Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, this union will be expanded on the account of Jordan and Morocco. It goes without saying that Nayef will attempt to give the GCC nuclear program a kick-start, although proceeding from what we already know, it’s clear that in a year (two at most) we’re to hear the official statement that the “new Caliphate” disposes nuclear weapon.
Death of Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz al Saudi, crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the First Prime Minister Deputy and also the Minister of Defense and Aviation) was of no peculiar interest for the mass-media. In-house majestic issues are rather a matter of exotic for Russian and Western media, than something that influences foreign relations.
As usually, everything is not precisely the way media portrays it. Struggle for the throne, which is covertly waged in Riyadh these days may change the general Middle-Eastern geopolitical layout (let alone the one of the “blessed Arabia”). Moreover, the results of the dynasty shuffle will surely have its impact on the Russian position in the East. That is the least of all reasons to pay more attention to the whole situation, rather than merely recollecting the brief biography of the late prince and the explaining the nuances of succession to throne in the Kingdom, albeit we surely have to remember the bio of Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in order to understand certain “layout” peculiarities inside the dynasty, revealing the general picture.
The superficial analysis of the late crown prince biography draws a picture of his entangling ties with the USA. This connection emerged as far back as in 1947, when Prince Sultan, the 16th son of King Abdul-Aziz, occupied two posts at once — Riyadh’s governor and head of the railroad Riyadh—Dammam sidetrack construction chief. Dammam is the eastern province of the Kingdom, the richest oil-bearing region in the world. The sidetrack was constructed by American Aramco Company (ARab-AMerican COmpany), 50% of which belonged to a legendary Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company of California (today’s Chevron Corporation) and the rest 50% belonged to no less famous Texaco.
Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz was not just the chief supervisor over the railway construction works, but more of a spokesman for the majestic family. The follow episode will reveal whose interests he really represented there. In 1948 the shares were redistributed, leading to the merger of SOCAL and Texaco, consolidating 30% each, 30% went to ECCO (Standard Oil of New Jersey), while Mobil got 10%. Royal family got nothing apart from a considerable windfall to the bank account of Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz. Carping tongues claimed then that he deliberately failed to inform the king of a coming redistribution. Be as it may, but the infuriated King categorically demanded to divide the profits between the Kingdom and ARAMCO in the 50/50 ration, threatening to nationalize the company otherwise. Then he appointed the inattentive offspring of his to the post of…
Minister of Agriculture, which is the same dead-end job both in Russia and at Arab Peninsula.
Prince seemed to be a marked man if Sultan bin Abdul Aziz hadn’t joined the party of his elder brother (the third son of Abdul-Aziz, crown prince Faisal) after their father had died. Having fairly judged that waiting for his brother Saud (who inherited the throne by the elder’s right) will naturally vacate it for him will take quite a time Faisal decided to hasten the events a bit. As a result, hard-boiled with intrigues Faisal actually ruled the country by 1962, while his enthronement in November of 1964 merely legitimized the state of affairs. Ex-King Saud was evicted to Greece, while Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz got the post of Minister of Defense of Aviation for his repeatedly proven loyalty. And that was the moment when his passion for the USA and American currency has shone brightly once again.
“He was a convinced advocate of close partnership between the USA and Saudi Arabia” — biographers wrote of him. I’d like to add that his conviction was well paid through the kickbacks of dozen American companies. Throughout almost half a century dozens billion dollars must have gone through his hands. Close ties with the USA, control over the army and billions at his personal accounts have made him one of the most powerful men in the Kingdom. His son Khalid was the Kingdom supervisor during the Gulf War of 1991. His son Bandar, who became son-in-law to King Faisal after marrying Princess Haifa, has the Ambassador to the USA since 1983 to 2005. He was actually one step away from the throne, but his elder stepbrother Abdullah has outstripped him.
Fraternal rivalry didn’t’ start in May 1982, when Abdullah became the crown prince and the Kingdom Commander-in-Chief. It didn’t start in 1998, when he became regent either. The starting point was 1962, when Sultan became the Minister of Defense and Abdullah headed the so-called White Army (Saudi Arabian National Guard, the SANG). This unique unit is not a part of the Kingdom military and subjected to King only. Unlike the army, National Guard was created exclusively for the purpose of withdrawing the internal threats. Its duties are to protect and defend the members of the royal family, deal with coups and anti-governmental revolts (including the military ones), defense of strategic objects and the protection of Mecca and Medina. This is a King’s personal army (and special service) in fact. This unit, formed on the principle of personal loyalty to the royal family is destined to have tense relations to Army. Besides and unlike the army, National Guard is filed-tested and the experts claim that it acted splendidly during the Desert Storm.
SANG, however, is maintained by the royal funds, which were inferior to the defense budget until the beginning of 80s. The dollar rain, showering the clan of Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz was much more plentiful than the dollar spring, which ran through the hands of Abdullah.
Yet, apart from financial discrepancies, brothers have always been at loggerhead in politics. While Sultan believed to keep the cooperation with the USA utmost tight and reckless, Abdullah stuck to the standpoint that the USA is good, albeit it is the military-political regional hegemony and the ideological (Wahhabi-based) dominion over the Muslim umma worldwide is to be the top priority. Abdullah stood up against the stationing of American troops at the Kingdom territory during the Desert Storm operation, which Sultan rammed.
After becoming regent in 1998, Kingdom policy started to become all the more independent. More often than not, misunderstanding (if not discrepancies) in the Riyadh and Washington positions emerged especially when it came to “international terrorism”, own nuclear program of the Kingdom, relationship with Taliban and some other matters. Naturally, that met no approval of Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, but Abdullah managed to neutralize him in an efficient and very European way, having started a “war against corruption”, which end was coincidentally pointed at the corruption at Defense Ministry. It even came to a point when in September of 2010 the King literally withdrew Sultan from preparing an unprecedented military contract with the USA worth of $60 billion.
Yet the most important thing was that softly stripping Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz of real power, Abdullah simultaneously pushed the pro-American government and top brass members from the Kingdom helm. Now, with the death of Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz their return power is rather improbable and troublesome. The most likely contender for the throne, crown prince Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz al Saud (current Minster of Interior), shares the King Abdullah’s views on the necessity of Saudi hegemony in the Muslim umma.
Having been appointed to the post of Minister of Interior after King Faisal’s assassination in 1975, Nayef has shown himself a tough leader (there’s no other way in the East, though) and simultaneously a man, who considers the Saudi hegemony, political and ideological expansion of the Kingdom “a way pleasing Allah”. Nayef believes that following this way, Saudi Arabia shouldn’t look back for American approval. Few more circumstance severed his sympathies for the USA. After the 9/11 events he was severely criticized on the USA, where it was believed that he failed to undertake the necessary actions to get rid of Al-Qaeda and bin Laden personally in due time. It came to a point that in July 2003 Senator Charles Ellis Schumer demanded deposing Nayef from the Minister of Interior’s seat from the Saudi Ambassador. The naivety of the demands was obvious. By that time, three portraits rather than two (of King Abdullah and crown prince Sultan) hung at the wall of various state cabinets (not only in the Ministry of Interior). I believe that you’ve already guessed who was portrayed on the third picture.
We may write a lot about this man. Yet, even today we’re able to outline the essence of the foreign policy he’ll wage, having come to power. Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz al Saud, is a hardcore adherent of the Saudi hegemony. His coming to power will accelerate the creation of a “new Caliphate” founded upon the GCC, including Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, this union will be expanded on the account of Jordan and Morocco. King Nayef will do everything can to turn the GCC as a territorial bloc into a politically-religious and military one (all the listed states are Sunni monarchies, united by the mutual defense treaty at that). The bloc has already got some experience of such joint warfare in Bahrain and Libya.
A. Ignatenko (the chairman of the Russian Institute for Religion & Politics Studies – OR) has neatly dubbed the latter conflict “a war by proxy”, reminding that “certain NATO members fought (and keep fighting) as the Council proxies in Libya. Let us remember that Libyan crisis was instigated by Arab monarchies in the first place. The demand…to establish a no-flight zone over Libya was actually proposed by th GCC” (A. Ignatenko “Arab Spring ends with frosts“, in Russian).
It goes without saying that Nayef will attempt to give the GCC nuclear program a kick-start, although proceeding from what we already know, it’s clear that in a year (two at most) we’re to hear the official statement that the “new Caliphate” disposes nuclear weapon.
Two more things seem utterly obvious. Firstly, the relations with Iran will aggravate furthermore (although, they may already seem as bad as they can be), while the anti-Iranian rhetoric of Saudi will keep ramping up.
Secondly, the activity of Arabian religious missionaries in the post-Soviet Middle-Asian countries will build up drastically.
Source: World Intellectual Network