Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah’s Health

Thankfully all indications appear that King Abdullah is successfully recuperating from his recent back surgery at a New York hospital.  I know when I initially heard that he was coming to the United States for treatment due to a slipped disc and blood clot I had a sense of alarm.  Knowing that there is excellent care within the Kingdom for this treatment coupled with the dangers of traveling by air with a blood clot gave me great concern on whether there was more to his ill health than reported.  Prior to his departure from the Kingdom in an unprecedented move he also renewed the four year term of His Excellency Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi Ambassador to Washington and turned over the reins of the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) to his son, HRH Prince Mitab.  Considering that the King had been head of the National Guard since 1962 and transferred power over to his son further alerted my own concerns.

However there is no doubt that King Abdullah is a fighter in spite of (or perhaps because of) his 86 years.  The surgery and procedures performed were quite sensitive as complications could have led to paralysis or a fatal embolism.  The success of his medical procedures likely sends sighs of joy and relief throughout the Kingdom and much of the world.

In my own view, I believe King Abdullah is among the most open and progressive of those in the immediate realm of Saudi’s leadership.  Crown Prince Sultan, although returned from convalescing in Morocco while the King went for his own treatment, is fighting his own health issues.  He is progressive but not in the same manner and style as King Abdullah.  Next in line is Interior Minister, HRH Prince Nayef, who is more aligned with other Saudi allies than the United States.  Prince Nayef is better known for his more conservative views and hardline stance.  If in the event leadership of Saudi  Arabia were to fall to Prince Nayef, the Kingdom would be taken in different directions away from its present reforms.  A wild card in a sense for succession is Riyadh Governor HRH Prince Salman.  He has a reputation for openness but if he were in the position of King, would he continue with the reforms put into place by King Abdullah?

In sum, it is with great news and joy to hear of King Abdullah’s recovery and I look forward to his return to the Kingdom.


30 Responses

  1. The era of Al-Saud brothers is about to end. Abdullah, Naif and Salman are in a very poor health and not in sound minds to rule even tyrannically. We have good ideas about who the next patch will be, the question is, will they be any better. Stay tuned.

  2. There is no better. The only “better” is the end to the monarchy altogether.

  3. Speaking as someone who lives here- there is “better”. And King Abdullah, so far, has been better.

  4. Let’s be honest.

    The only reason I would care for the King’s health is that I worry over the fate of KSA under either of those two kooks, Naif and Sultan. They’re not popular.

    Not only is the era of the Al-Saud brothers ending, the era under which the population will stay asleep is coming to an end in the next 20-30 years.

  5. I am thankful he is better, I was quite worried there. I find myself in denial about his age. I really do not want to think of the fate of KSA in the future without him.

  6. @Sandy,

    So you think that any monarchy, especially the Saudi one, is a type of government that is going to have the best interests of their people in mind?

    Sorry, but I reject completely the idea that an accident of birth gives anyone the right to rule an entire nation and steal their natural resources. I reject it for the UK, I reject it anywhere. I am married to a Saudi, she feels the same way, as do many Saudis, especially those who dont rely on their connections to the family for their way of life.

    The royal family needs to be abolished, or, it needs to adopt the Scandanavian model where they actually work for a living and have zero role in day to day life.

    Abd’Allah isnt any better than those who came before him. All he is doing is the very minimum he feels he has to do to keep his country stable and to continue his family’s rule over the country. Nothing more, nothing less.

    It is kind of arguing who was better, Stalin or Hitler.

  7. I hope the king will get better. Nice post Bedu

    I’m a 24 years old Saudi man and my family is considered lower middle class I think but I will give up my life to keep the royal family in charge of the country. And I think good choice to be a King in the future is Saud Alfaisal or Khaled Alfaisal sons of King Faisal

  8. @Abu Sinan,
    That’s not what I said at all. But you just tend to start bashing when someone disagrees with you. And I assure you my family connections don’t rely on the royal family for their way of life. Except in the most general of terms. A stable country is much better for people than one that has been plunged into civil war. And before you jump on that- no- I don’t belive people should settle for oppression in the name of stability. But the situation is not as simple as you present it. Especially in practical terms. I live in a much greyer world than the black and white one you appear to inhabit.

  9. I think Abdullah has been one of the best King’s of Saudi Arabia. I do agree with the earlier commenter that a new era is coming to Saudi Arabia given that the majority youth population is now at the age of making decisions and taking actions. The youth has grown up in a different era as compared to the Saudis who grew up during the moderate 70’s and 80’s.

    It is concerning that those in closest line to the Throne each have their own health challenges notwithstanding the age factor. Abdullah is to be greatly admired for his activities at his age (86). He has been more active than many much younger world leaders.

  10. @Jacey
    I loved your post because it speaks Saudis’ inner feelings out towards our beloved father, king Abdullah (: I love him and I wish him a quick recovery.

  11. @Sandy,

    I do agree that King Abdulah is the best so far, but I do not agree about the stability of the country. I do hope he recovers as there are many issues in the short term which will impact the stability and the transfer of power.

    One can analyze the moves by the royals and the King to understand what is going on:

    – The king appoints his son as the head of the National Guard. This is a move to insure that other princes do not try to over throw him while he is recuperating. It also insures that his branch of the family stays strong in the case he has complications resulting in his death or inability to rule.
    – Prince Sultan, who has been Ill for sometime now, was brought back by his sons to insure that his ascension to the throne will not be impacted if something goes wrong. This is making sure that his sons will have a long term play in the future of the Kingdom.
    – Prince Bander is all the sudden back to Saudi. Another part of strengthening the position of the Sultan branch in this. He brings in American relations to the puzzle.
    – Prince Naif is the King maker or King in waiting. He controls the internal security. He always looks for the right moment to announce successes of the security operations as you have seen yesterday with announcement of the arrest of terrorists cells.

    In all of this the interest of the Saudi people and their long term security and stability is lost in a football match between royals who cannot figure out a proper process for handing down power. Of course giving them a democratic system is out of the question under these conditions.

    So yes, I am one of those that hope the King gets through this in good health. The alternatives are not as good at least not in the short term.

  12. I don’t think one should compare the current king to Hitler or Stalin, a better comparison would be to the Soviet rulers after Stalin. They weren’t monsters but the system was evil. The Saudi monarchy and the royal family is a leech on the country’s resources. I would accept the judgement of Saudis who post on websites, that the current king is a good one, but the system is at best a waste.

  13. Jerry M

    nobody expects Saudis who live in Saudi Arabia not the ones who live in abroad for 40 years , have the right to say weather the system works for us or not. I think a monarchy is the only system that works because looking at other Arab countries that claim to be republic is just no good for the people safe-wise and economically. The founder put Arabia altogether and if there is no monarchy I don`t want to share the oil in my region and my grandfathers land with people on other cities in Arabia. Again I am well-educated young Saudi man and not completely satisfied with the system but I will sacrifice my life to keep the Sons and grandsons of the founder in charge of the country.

  14. Typing error on my respond

    I meant Excepts instead expects in the first sentence

  15. I was mostly commenting on Abu Sinan comparing the current king to Hitler or Stalin.

    Still the system is a bad one, it relies on the virtue of the incumbent. Even good systems have bad outcomes. Can anyone justify the US system of almost permanent war? I certainly cannot.

  16. I really hope the current King Abdullah’s health continues to improve and that he is able to live and lead KSA for many, many more years in good health. I agree that from what I have heard, he seems to be rather open-minded and an overall good king. Hopefully, the country will continue to move in a progressive, positive direction with all its future leaders, too.

  17. This is a very nice post about King Abdullah. I hope too that he gets well, I think he is the best king this country ever had. And to compare him to Hitler or Stalin, that person does not know what he is talking about. I am from Germany and know what Hitler ment.
    I hope King Abdullah comes back to KSA asap, the country needs him.

  18. I hope his health improves, he’s the best we’ve got.

  19. […] King Abdullah continues to recover from his recent surgery I have received multiple queries via email on how one […]

  20. As an American living in Riyadh, I see that the country in many ways is still way too barbaric. The way it treats its women and low-level workers is a disgrace. The religious faction has far too much influence and control – always a danger when any country is run by religious leaders or policies. Having said that, King Abdullah is by far the best king since King Faisal in the 60s and 70s. It will be a disaster if Nayef or any other conservation royal gets in. Human rights are pretty much nonexistent even under Abdullah so one can only imagine how they’d be under Nayef.

  21. As an American living in Riyadh, I see that the country in many ways is still way too barbaric. The way it treats its women and low-level workers is a disgrace. The religious faction has far too much influence and control – always a danger when any country is run by religious leaders or policies. Having said that, King Abdullah is by far the best king since King Faisal in the 60s and 70s. It will be a disaster if Nayef or any other conservation royal gets in. Human rights are pretty much nonexistent even under Abdullah so one can only imagine how much worse they’d be under Nayef.

  22. As a person having lived in SA just prior to King Abdullah..religious factions have increased their power since King Abdullah came into power. This was my observation from what I saw..more segregation between men and women, more restrictions as to what westerners could or could not where or go… God help SA if King Abdullah is liberal! Agree completely with Thomas in regards to human rights being pretty much non existent if not a national SA.

  23. Apologize for the spelling errors!!

  24. IMAM MAHDI will appear after King Abdullah dies. This is 100% sure and confirmed by all the highest authorities of Ummah.

  25. Cool, same sort of prediction like the end of the world on the 21st of October 2011?

  26. @aafke – he’s supposed to make an appearence before the end of the world and rule for a while along with christ or some such thing..

    so, don’t hold your breath 🙂

  27. I had no idea what his comment meant so I did a quick search:

  28. Radhaa, so we missed them both!
    We must be on a parallel world….

  29. yes :-0

    All i can tell is i forsee a long and distuinguished career for me and F , considering there’s going to be soooo many wars between romans and whomever !!!! they are going ot be in dire need of doctors.. especially when that lovely peace comes and they have many many injured !!!
    i think my daughter is on the absolutely right track in her career path, now i just wished my son had listened to me and made it in the medical field our family would be all set .

  30. i will pray for saudi king Abdullah get well soon the greates man on earth

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