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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 old Emir of Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani was born in 1952, and was succeeded on 25 June 2013 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 old Amir, who was known to be in poor health. But the Prime Minister was poorly positioned to organize a coup against the Amir. The security forces and Qatari intelligence report to the Crown Prince, not the Prime Minister.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died 22 January 2015 at the age of approximately 90. He was immediately succeeded by the Crown Prince, Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The new king, thought to be 79, had been crown prince and defense minister since 2012. Another half brother, Muqrin, was named the new crown prince. Salman named his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, as the new deputy crown prince and his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as Saudi Arabia's new defense minister and head of the royal court. Salman also said he would keep most other ministers.

The Amir of Kuwait, Shaykh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah [born in 1929] was 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 was no designated successor. Sayyid Taimur bin Asad bin Tariq al-Said (born c. 1980) was a second cousin of Sultan Qaboos, and was 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 was led by the Amir of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, born in 1948. Next in line was 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.

Saudi Arabia
Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud
born: 1935?

Crown Prince
Muqrin bin Abdulaziz
born: 1945

United Arab Emirates
Amir of Abu Dhabi
Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
born: 1948

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
born: 1961

Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani
born: 1980


Shaykh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah
born: 1929

Crown Prince
Shaykh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al Sabah
born: 1937

Qaboos bin Said
born: 1940


Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
born: 1950

Crown Prince
Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
born: 1969

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