The House of Saud is already beset with problems. The health of King Abdullah, who is 87, has been the subject of intense speculation, especially since the men tipped to succeed him are also elderly. He spent three months in the US and Morocco receiving treatment. Abdullah's half-brother Crown Prince Sultan, who is in his 80s and has been in poor health, was in charge in his absence.
The monarch's return was welcomed by the Saudi media, but in decidedly nervous tones. The editorial in the English-language daily Arab News said, "The king is the only pillar of stability in the region now" He is the assurance of orderly progress... in the Arab world as a whole."
Soon after arriving, Abdullah went into talks with King Hamad of Bahrain, which is on Saudi Arabia's eastern border.
Saudi Arabia's regional and strategic significance for imperialism is paramount. It is bordered by Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Oman and Yemen, as well as being connected to Bahrain by a causeway. Other than the state of Israel and possibly Egypt, no other nation has played such an important linchpin role for imperialism in the region.
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