King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has passed away at the age of 90. The Saudi king had been in bad health for months, with pneumonia being the latest scourge to afflict him. Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz is Abdullah’s successor.
King Abdullah was born in either 1923 or 1924. His father, King Abdulaziz Al Saud, founded Saudi Arabia. Abdullah took the throne in 2005 after the death of his half brother, King Fahd, though he was running the country as early as 1995.
The transition of power is not expected to alter the strong ties Saudi Arabia has with the West. Crown Prince Salman has maintained good relations with Western nations. He has served as defense minister for Saudi Arabia since 2011.
One area of concern surrounding Salman is his health. The Crown Prince is believed to be suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. If Salman’s condition was to worsen or become fatal, 69-year-old Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz is next in line to the throne.
The change in leadership comes at a pivotal moment for the Middle East. Islamic extremism has once again become a global concern thanks to the rise of ISIS. Tensions are still high between the West and Iran over the country’s nuclear program. The Middle East is also dealing with the fallout of plummeting oil prices. Many Middle Eastern countries rely heavily on the sale of crude oil.