Islam Times – On Thursday, rumours swirled of a pending royal announcement laying out a change in the House of Saud. Respected Saudi journalists tweeted that strong sources were reporting that King Abdullah might leave the throne.
The state media announcement, when it came, only locked in what the royal family intends to be the coming order of succession for the kingdom, after King Abdullah.
But al-Arabiya, a Saudi-controlled news organization that reflects the policy of the Saudi government, had another headline in the URL of its first web story on the decree, Wall Street Journal correspondent Ahmed al Omran noticed.
In English, the Arabiya headline reads: “Saudi King Abdicates for Brother Salman.” By Sunday morning, in fact, no such abdication had been announced – and the URL headline had long been deleted.
Pictures taken inside King Abdullah’s palace outside Riyadh with breathing tube to aid his respiration and the recent nomination of a new heir to the throne after the Crown Prince prompted reports the Saudi King is about to abdicate in favour of Prince Salman. Plagued by ill-health, King Abdullah is however said to be mentally sharp by diplomats, although severely weakened.
Moreover, last Thursday, King Abdullah appointed his half-brother and country’s former intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz as the deputy crown prince, paving the way for him to become a future monarch. Prince Muqrin, 68, the second deputy premier, is the youngest son of the Kingdom’s founder King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. The appointment makes him the next in line to ascend the Saudi throne after 89-year-old King Abdullah and 78-year-old Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, the Arab News reported.
King Abdullah ascended the throne on August 1, 2005, upon the death of his half-brother King Fahd. King Abdullah has emphasised that nobody would be allowed to change the appointment of Prince Muqrin as deputy to the crown prince or replace him since the Allegiance Council, the body responsible for determining future succession to the throne of Saudi Arabia, has approved his new appointment.
The King’s health has been over the past years a source of concerns for the Kingdom as it has steadily deteriorated; which enhances the probability of an early retirement.
Back in November 17, 2012, aged 90, the king underwent a gruelling back surgery which is said to have left him fragile. Since then the King has taken a step back from his duties, allowing Prince Salman to become the face of the kingdom. Again a sign wind is changing direction.