As the people of Saudi Arabia, from the Crown Prince downwards, prayed for the recovery of our dear King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who was admitted to hospital in late December last year, speculations and predictions about the future of the ruling House of Saud mounted abroad.
Wishful thinking dominated hypothetical arguments and facts gave way to subjective desires regarding how rule would be transferred to the third generation of the House of Saud. However when good King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz passed away at the will of God Almighty, succession to the throne went as smoothly as usual.
King Abdullah passed away after strengthening the regional and international standing of the Kingdom. He passed away having safely steered our country away from the storm of the so-called Arab Spring whose repercussions reached the outskirts of the Kingdom. He passed away after he carried out a process of domestic reform that is compatible with the circumstances of Saudi Arabia’s society, while rejecting the imposition of reforms imported from abroad. He passed away after he made the dream of studying abroad a reality for even the poorest of Saudi students. In short, King Abdullah passed away after he achieved the maximum that his people expected from him, domestically and internationally.
Only a few hours after ascending to the throne, the new Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz carried out his duties as King. King Salman, a son and a brother of kings, issued a royal order appointing Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz as Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minster. He also confirmed the future Saudi line of succession by naming Prince Mohammed Bin Naif as Deputy Crown Prince and Second Deputy Prime Minister, a historic decision that, for the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia, will transfer power to the third generation of the House of Al Saud.
This major step which everyone, at home and abroad, was expecting was taken smoothly by King Salman and in keeping with the surrounding circumstances and the needs of the state at this stage. Those familiar with King Salman know that he is a man of historic decisions.
This deliberate clamor over the future of rule in Saudi Arabia is nothing new, nor is the normal and smooth transfer of power. The people of Saudi Arabia have grieved deeply over the passing of our late great King, but we are certain that the country will continue on its course of stability.
A few years ago, Saudi Arabia lost two of its greatest statesman in a single year, namely former Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, and his successor former Crown Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz. Despite this double loss, and although Saudi Arabia never forgets its dearly departed leaders, the Kingdom is aware that the clock is always ticking and that this country loses great men only to produce new ones. The figures may change, but the Kingdom endures.
Yesterday, and on more than one satellite TV channel, a number of questions were posed about the succession of power in Saudi Arabia: How can this take place so easily? And what is the future of rule in Saudi Arabia?
My answer is that only those who do not know the nature of Saudi Arabia’s society are repeating questions and speculations regarding ambiguity in the transition process and the Saudi line of succession. However, in reality, all evidence confirms that this decisiveness is neither surprising nor anything new. Whenever questions about the strength of Saudi Arabia’s ruling institutions are posed, these institutions prove their stability, sophistication and continuity.
Many people continue to describe Saudi Arabia’s ruling establishment as being murky, without basing this on any information or knowledge. But when one king passes away, he is succeeded by another, and the state has endured as an anchor of stability.
Or as King Salman Bin Abdulaziz said yesterday: “We will continue, with God’s grace and strength, committed to the true approach which was followed by this state since its inception at the hands of the founder, King Abdulaziz, God’s mercy upon him, and at the hands of his sons after him, God’s mercy upon them, and we will never deviate from this approach.”
The Saudi state is so stable and strong that it is a model for how to respond to any misfortune.
The Saudi people on Thursday night fell asleep during the reign of King Abdullah, and awoke in the reign of King Salman. This is a clear and strong message to the entire world. Oh Saudi Arabia, how great you are!