Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia: A fond farewell amidst speculation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In the mist of the current Arab volatility, and the [political] hurricane that has passed, and is passing through numerous [Arab] states, it was interesting to see the attention that international circles and the international media paid to the general state of grief and sorrow that accompanied the news of the passing of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz. This is not to mention the comments issued by state officials in various countries around the world praising the virtues of the departed, as well as his role as a statesman.

The most perfect epitaph for any public figure or statesman can be found in the love and honor he is afforded by his own people, as well as the regional and international community, not to mention the manner in which his exploits are remembered. This is something that was clear to see in the public response in Saudi Arabia to the news of the death of Crown Prince Sultan, who was famous for his acts of kindness and his support for various charitable and humanitarian organizations.

This clear appreciation and recognition of Prince Sultan was clear to see in the comments made by ordinary people on social networking sites, particularly as such websites are more open – thanks to their populist nature – than the mainstream media. As for the predictions for the future that were put forward on these social networking sites, many of these were closer to rumor than to reality.

Whilst the regional and international response to Prince Sultan’s death, and the participation of foreign delegations from across the world [traveling to Saudi Arabia to attend the funeral], reflects the status of this statesman and his relations with the Arab and international world. This is something that is clear, whether with regards to Prince Sultan’s relations with the Arab world, or his pursuit of Saudi interests on the international scene. This is not to mention the regional and international status of Saudi Arabia, where Prince Sultan was one of the pillars of governance for many years.

It is natural that the passing of a crown prince should be met with regional and international attention being paid to the issue of succession following the death of the heir apparent, particularly in a country that has become – over the past decade – one of the pillars of regional stability, playing a vital role in the international economy and political arena. This is something that was clear in the western and international media coverage of Prince Sultan’s death, with speculation being put forward on this issue, even though the roadmap is clear from scrutinizing the internal [political] arrangement that have been in place for years.

It is also natural that there should be exceptional interest in the death of Prince Sultan, which has dwarfed previous examples of the death of important figures or changes in the leadership. This is due to the current conditions being experienced by the Middle East, whose future is uncertain and ambiguous following the revolutions and uprisings that have taken place since the beginning of the year and which have resulted in a number of pivotal regional countries finding themselves at the political crossroads. Therefore the stability of the Gulf region in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular, represents a safety valve for the entire region, with regards to the region facing an uncertain future. The general impression given by the international and regional media is that there is a state of confidence that stability will not be harmed, and that there are no grounds for concern in this regard.