Commodore, Royal Saudi
On Feb. 23, 2013, my article titled “Saudi stability and royal succession” was published in Arab News. Truth be told, I wrote that article after reading several reports and commentaries on Saudi Arabia published in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Most of the material was produced by westerners or by analysts of this region but based in the West. Western media outlets carried those analyzes. All of them had three things in common. They were very nicely written in a flowery language using attractive vocabulary; they contained the element of drama and last but not the least they were way off the course. During the past few days, a similar exercise is being carried out in the wake of the recent decision on the royal succession. It is ironical for the past six decades; the style and tone of such reports have not changed a bit. Perhaps writing about Saudi Arabia is seen as a very sensational thing. Last Thursday, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah issued a decree naming Prince Muqrin as the deputy crown prince. The decree says Prince Muqrin, the youngest son of the Kingdom’s founder King Abdul Aziz, is next in line to ascend the throne after King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense. It says Prince Muqrin will be appointed crown prince in the absence of a crown prince and named king of the country in the absence of both the king and the crown prince. To many of the people who know the Kingdom very well, this is a very clear, simple and transparent approach to a very delicate issue. There were no surprised reactions from the Saudis but interestingly many western analysts and people living outside the Kingdom unnecessarily started expressing their astonishment. Since the day King Abdul Aziz founded Saudi Arabia, it remains the only country in the region, which has always experienced a smooth transition of power. And Saudis have always been informed of the succession process and who is who in the line of succession. This is not the case in many Arab countries where people usually grope in the dark over the issue of succession. Prince Muqrin is one of the most qualified politicians not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the region with a very impressive track record. As a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot, many of the people who have worked with him will tell you about his leadership qualities and his close relations with his seniors or people under his command. He always had a smile on his face even after a rough ride in one of the most advanced fighter jets. After leaving the air force, he held many important positions like the head of the Saudi intelligence, governor of Hail and then Madinah. After serving as Madinah governor he was appointed as the adviser to King Abdullah. Apart from his official responsibilities, he is one of the most experienced astronomers with extensive knowledge about stars. So, as far as it goes for the Saudis about this latest succession, it is another sunshine day and it is business as usual. Since the 1940s many countries in the region have witnessed violent coups and government ousters. Many of the countries were ruled by dictators who ruled their countries for life even though they were called republics and no one knew who is next in line. In Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, ties between the rulers and the ruled have always remained smooth but the Kingdom’s domestic issues always fascinate western analysts. We Saudis take this as a compliment. Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. A Wise Royal Move reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.