Gulf States - Houses of Cards
All six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are monarchies. Each has some form of consultation with their subjects, but in each case the public has no input into the selection of the monarch, and not much input into the government's policies. All but Bahrain have largely avoided the Arab Spring. Three of these states, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, are led by elderly rulers and face rather precarious successions in the near future. The other three states, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, are led by much younger rulers, and have the succession process well in hand.
The King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was born in 1924 and ascended the throne in August 2005. next in line of succession is Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, born in 1935. Both are sons of the founder of the modern state of Saudi Arabia, Abd al Aziz ibn Abd ar Rahman Al Saud (1876-1953). Every king since 1953 has been one of his sons, but soon Saudi Arabia will have to select a king who is not, a proceess without precedent.
The Amir of Kuwait, Shaykh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah [born in 1929] is slated to be succeeded by Crown Prince Shaykh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al Sabah [born in 1937], a figure correctly viewed as being an extremely decent and nice, weak and ineffectual leader, thoroughly disengaged from politics. Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said, born in 1940, assumed power in 1970 in a palace coup directed against his father. And in the usual manner of Oman, there is no designated successor. Sayyid Taimur bin Asad bin Tariq al-Said (born c. 1980) is a second cousin of Sultan Qaboos, and is considered by many Omanis to be the leading candidate in his generation for the succession. He has only an undergraduate degree in public relations from the the (unaccredited) American College of London, and has not held government positions. If he were ato become Sultan, he too would probably be a decent and nice, weak and ineffectual leader, thoroughly disengaged from politics.
The United Arab Emirates is led by the Amir of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, born in 1948. Next is line is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, born in 1961, the man who runs the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain's King, born in 1950, appears to be working effectively to ensure a smooth succession for the Crown Prince, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, born in 1969. The Emir of Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani was bor in 1952, and is slated to be succeeded by the Heir Apparent, Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, born in 1980.Were the Prime Minister tempted to establish himself as Amir, he would probably wait until the death of the current Amir, who is known to be in poor health. But the Prime Minister is poorly positioned to organize a coup against the Amir. The security forces and Qatari intelligence report to the Crown Prince, not the Prime Minister.
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