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King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died on 23 January 2015 at age 90.

On 01 August 2005 Saudi Arabia's ailing King Fahd died. The king's death was announced over the official Saudi media today. Aged in his 80's, Fahd was admitted to a hospital in May 2005, reportedly suffering from respiratory ailments. No cause of death was given. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, who had managed the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom since Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995.

In June 2012 Abdullah named his half-brother, Prince Salman, 13 years his junior, heir apparent after the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz. And in 2014 he appointed Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz as deputy crown prince, giving assurance on the kingdom's long-term succession process.

Since 1997, Crown Prince Abdullah had taken on much of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the government. Since his debut as a leader, the crown prince earned admiration from Western diplomats, and early worries that he might be less friendly to the West than his brother appeared to have been overblown. His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah [Abd Allah] Ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud was Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Prince Abdullah had been Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister since June 1982. He was born in Riyadh in 1924 and received formal education from religious scholars and intellectuals at the royal court. Prince Abdullah has commanded the Saudi National Guard since 1962. Abdullah's second son, Mitaab bin Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz, was assistant deputy commander of the National Guard.

Abdullah was second in command, mainly due to King Khalid (King before Fahd) who took a particular liking to him because he offset the Sudairis. Crown Prince Abdullah has no full brothers, which makes his position potentially weaker than that of the powerful Sudairi Seven, but also distanced him from unpopular conduct by other ruling family members and enabled him to form his own alliances with other half-brothers among the sons of Ibn Saud. Prince Abdullah married a Syrian woman who is a relative of President Asad of Syria.

Abdullah is considered the leader of the Shammar branch of the Al Saud, a rival source of power to the Sudairi branch that dominated the regular armed forces. Crown Prince Abdallah's mother is a member of the Rashid clan of Shammar tribe. Jabal Shammar is a former emirate in northern Saudi Arabia. Its capital was at Hail.

The Bedouin genealogies, in which they pretend to be eminently versed, are not to be much depended on; the more so that their own family names hardly ever exceed the limits of a patronymic, while the constantly renewed subdivisions of a tribe, and the temporary increase of one branch and decrease of another, tend to efface the original name of the clan. Certain broad divisions are tolerably accurately kept up among the wider and more important clans. The Aneza clan extend from Syria southward to the limits of Jebel Shammar. The Shammar Bedouin's pasturages lie conterminous to those of the Aneza on the east. Their numbers are about the same. In the northern desert, the Huwetat and Sherarat, comparatively small tribes. There is also the Solibi clan, which, however, is disowned by the Arabs, and seems to be of gypsy origin. Next follow, in the western desert, the Beni-Harb. In the eastern desert are the Muter, the BeniKhalid, and the Ajmans. To the south, in Nejd itself or on its frontiers, are the Hodeil, Ateba, and others. These all belong to the "Mustareb," or northern Arabs.

In 1921, Ibn Saud conquered the forces of the emir, Ibn Rashid, and annexed the territory to his kingdom of Nejd. Hail is a town in Northern Arabia, ruled since 1835 by the Al Rashid Amirs, Heads of the Shammar clan, overthrown in 1921 by Saudi King Abd al Aziz, who effected political marriages to the Rashidis and other powerful families to disarm opposition. Since Prince Abdullah's mother was tribal, his loyalty is towards the tribesman and conservatives. He is known to be unhappy with the over modernization and development of the country, especially with American pressure.

Influenced by his father, founder of the modern Kingdom King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, he developed a profound respect for religion, history and the Arab heritage. His years spent living in the desert with Bedouin tribes taught him their values of honor, simplicity, generosity and bravery. Throughout his life, Prince Abdullah has retained a love of the desert, along with a love of horsemanship. He is a breeder of pure Arabian horses, and founder of the Riyadh-based equestrian club.

In 1962 Prince Abdullah was chosen by King Faisal to command the National Guard, which was formed from descendents of those who were King Abdul Aziz' followers. This is a particularly appropriate appointment given his knowledge of the tribes of Saudi Arabia and his awareness of the heritage of the Arabian peninsula. Furthermore, the National Guard and its Commander are renowned for their efforts to preserve and celebrate the country's cultural heritage.

Abdullah had no full brothers, but he cultivated close relationships with half brothers and nephews who also lacked family allies because they either had no full brothers or were isolated for some other reason. For example, in 1984 Abdullah had appointed one of the sons of deposed King Saud as commander of the national guard in the Eastern Province. Prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Abdullah faction had a reputation as traditionalists who opposed many of the domestic and foreign polices favored by the Al Sudairi. In particular, the Abdullah faction criticized the kingdom's military dependence on the United States. The Abdullah faction also was a proponent of closer relations with Iran and Syria. During the Persian Gulf War, however, Abd Allah supported the decision to permit stationing of United States troops in the country.

Abdullah was anti-American in the Gulf War, but Fahd demanded United States support, so he had to follow. In addition, Abdullah boycotted Egypt in 1979 after the Camp David Accords, but in 1991 Abdullah supported the Egyptian proposal to end the Arab boycott to Israel if Israel agreed to stop new settlements in the occupied territory. Abdullah tried to advocate against the pro-Western faction within the dynasty. He also push for closer Saudi cooperation with the other Arab states, and tried to mediate the Lebanese crisis, and theSyrian Jordanian dispute in 1980. In addition, Abdullah opposed Fahd's 8 point program to try to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Early in 1996, the Crown Prince, in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister, presided over cabinet meetings and governed the country while King Fahd was resting.

In February 2002 Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz unveiled an initiative for resolving the crisis on the basis of Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories it occupied in the 1967 war in return for full normalization of relations between the two sides. This plan was adopted by the summit meeting of the League of Arab States in Beirut in March.

Abdullah was considered a reformist by many sectors of the Saudi society, especially because he paved the way for municipal elections, granted women the right to vote and to run for office, and allowed them for the first time to do business without the involvement of a man. In November 2011 King Abdullah granted Saudi women the right to vote and run in nationwide local elections, four years hence. The king's announcement applied to elections set for 2015. King Abdullah also said that women will be appointed the Shura Council starting with its next term. The Shura Council is an advisory body which is selected by the monarch and has so far been all male.

In November 2011, King Abdullah underwent surgery in New York for a herniated disc complicated by a blood clot. He had a second procedure in New York in December. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah traveled to Morocco 21 January 2010after spending two months in the United States where he had back surgery. King Abdullah arrived in Casablanca, where he would undergo more rehabilitation.

President Barack Obama's arrived in Saudi Arabia 28 AMarch 2014, to try to ease Saudi concerns about US policy on Iran and Syria. He met with the King Abdullah in an ornate room with gilded chairs and under jeweled chandeliers. The 89-year-old [??] king appeared to be wearing oxygen tubes, but officials said he engaged in a vigorous discussion and articulated his views.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was admitted to the King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh on 31 Decembber 2014 for tests after he suffered what one source described as breathing difficulties. He was suffering from pneumonia and temporarily needed help to breath through a tube, but the procedure was successful and his condition is now stable, according to the royal court. The king was thought to be 91, although official accounts are unclear. He had undergone surgery in the past few years related to a herniated disk.

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Page last modified: 03-01-2016 20:13:00 ZULU