Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah’s visit to the United States this week to discuss oil matters with President George W. Bush, took place amid growing speculation back home that the bed-ridden King Fahd’s condition has worsened with the monarch slipping out of conciousness. Speculation is rife among Riyadh’s ruling elite of Fahd’s clinical death – but even if this were true, any official announcement would delayed until a final decision on Fahd’s successor has been taken.

Sources close to the Saudi royal family told Adnkronos International about the “suspicious” disappearance of King Fahd from public scene in the last ten days. At the same time, the sources have noted frantic activity involving the Seven Sudaris – the seven sons of King Abdul Aziz’s wife, who hailed from Saudi Arabia’s Sudari tribe, around whom the succession question revolves – King Fahd and Defence Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz are two of the most powerful Sudari sevens.

Crown Prince Abdullah – who is Fahd’s half brother – has long been touted to ascend the throne, but well placed sources maintain that there is resistance from other Sudari sevens members who favour closer ties with the West, something which Abdullah, who is very popular among Saudi religious circles, seems reluctant to cultivate. However, past efforts to promote the more Western-friendly defence minister Prince Sultan as Crown Prince instead of Abdullah failed because of division among the Sudaris.

Abdullah seems likely to remain the main beneficiary of internal Sudari squabbling, and already three years ago, he set up a Royal Council including all the 65 sons of the late King Abdul Aziz to settle all disputes related to the monarchy.

It is believed that Abdullah is more acceptable to the majority of the Royal Council members than any other candidate. Hower, the succession is unlikely to be smooth and a new phase of conflict could start in oil-rich Saudi Arabia…link

Just to keep things fair and balanced, there has been buzz that “King” Fahd has been “clinically dead” for years, and that his body has merely been kept alive while the “princes” work out their feuds and arrange the necessary tragic accidents for the losers.

I am not sure what significance to attach to this one seeping into the media, it could be that for some technical reason, the body preservation process has reached a critical point and become unwieldy, and possibly distasteful even to the medical personnel employed by the “princes,” in any event, I hope that the Arabian Resistance will seize any day there is to seize.

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