Saudi King suffers a 'major medical setback'

Monday, February 14, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

WASHINGTON Saudi King Abdullah is said to have fallen seriously ill.

Western intelligence sources said Abdullah's medical condition has deteriorated sharply over the last few days. But they said he was not in danger of imminent death.

"He has suffered a major medical setback," an intelligence source said.

The sources said Abdullah, who has sought to recover from two operations in the United States in late 2010, experienced a deterioration in his health during efforts to help embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They said the 86-year-old king sought to lobby the United States to support the continuation of the Mubarak regime despite the massive opposition campaign in Egypt.

"These efforts certainly didn't help his health and probably harmed recovery," the source said.

Over the last two months, Abdullah was resting in his home in Morocco. The sources said the king was suffering from back and heart ailments as well as signs of dementia.

For their part, Saudi opposition sources said Abdullah died on Feb. 9 at his home in Morocco. On late Feb. 10, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal said Abdullah was in "excellent shape."

Over the last six months, Abdullah has ceded authority to his deputy prime minister, Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz. Opposition sources and Western diplomats agreed that Nayef, also Saudi interior minister, has been in charge of both Saudi foreign and domestic policy since late 2010. Crown Prince Sultan was also said to have been sidelined by dementia and other ailments.

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