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Thursday, April 21, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Growing U.S.-Saudi crisis seen affecting oil prices as king's health declines

WASHINGTON — Saudi King Abdullah, who prematurely ended his convalescence during the Middle East crisis, remains far from functional, a report said.


Foreign Policy Magazine reported that the 87-year-old Abdullah has not recovered from his two operations in the United States in late 2010. The article by Simon Henderson said Abdullah was said to be unable to function more than a few hours per day, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Although he can only manage two or three hours of official engagements each day, I am also told the burden of government is not easily shared," Henderson, a leading U.S. analyst on the Gulf and with connections inside the Saudi royal family, said.

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The report said the Saudi king "cuts an increasingly pathetic figure" and "sees danger all around him." Henderson cited disagreements between Abdullah and U.S. President Barack Obama on such issues as the Shi'ite revolt in Bahrain and the rebellions in Libya and Syria.

"The man King Abdullah would like to see go to hell is Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, who once tried to assassinate him — but Obama will not oblige," the report said. "In neighboring Bahrain, King Abdullah views the majority Shiites as being untermenschen at best, Iranian agents at worst. Now, the king sees Syrian President Bashar Assad under increasing threat. The Saudi leader has a soft spot for Syria."

As a result, the report said, U.S.-Saudi relations have reached a crisis point. Saudi Arabia was said to have reduced crude oil production in March amid the lack of output from Libya.

On April 12, Abdullah was said to have aired his differences with U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. The report said their meeting was attended by Saudi National Security Council secretary-general Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, a former ambassador to Washington.

Bandar was identified as a new confidante of Abdullah and sent on missions to China, India and Pakistan this year. The report said Bandar's high profile could signal the king's intent to restore the NSC chief as the next Saudi ambassador to Washington.

Henderson said Abdullah cut short his convalescence in Morocco despite opposition from his physicians. The Saudi king was said to have been alarmed by the Arab revolt in the Middle East as well as the growing threat from Iran.

"His notional successor, Crown Prince Sultan, is a vegetable, his appearance genial but his mind is shot to shreds," the report said.

The most likely successor of Abdullah has been identified as Deputy Prime Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz. Henderson said that Nayef, also interior minister, has left Saudi Arabia for a secret location.

"The most likely next king is Interior Minister Prince Nayef, who runs the kingdom on a day-to-day basis but is currently vacationing abroad at an undisclosed destination, apparently sure of his power base within the House of Saud and the backing of the kingdom's religious conservatives," the report, titled "Is the House of Saud dumping Obama?" said.


Our government is slipping and sliding into chaos in the Near East. This young Marxist we have in charge has no clue as to how to handle this situation. Of course, he'll get dumped - along with us!!

M. J. Dean      11:44 a.m. / Friday, April 22, 2011

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