"Saudi Brezhnevs"

(Wall Street Journal) Simon Henderson - According to the new official biographies of King Abdullah and his designated successor, Crown Prince Sultan, both men are lying about their ages - and age (of senior princes) is the key to understanding Saudi Arabia over the next few years. In the Saudi system, age brings seniority, a key qualification for succession. But old age also suggests infirmity, a possible disqualifying factor. When I wrote a book - After King Fahd: Succession in Saudi Arabia - in 1994, I spent months checking the years of birth of the sons of King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia. Fahd was born in 1921, Abdullah in 1923, and Sultan in 1924. On Monday, the Saudi Press Agency said Fahd was born in 1923, Abdullah in 1924, and Sultan in 1930. Saudi Arabia is facing a future of kings with short reigns. They will probably be dubbed "Saudi Brezhnevs," after the increasingly decrepit leadership in the final years of the Soviet Union. The writer is a senior fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2005-08-04 00:00:00

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