Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Dead at 86

October 22, 2011  

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud, 86, is dead.

Abdulaziz, who also served as the Saudi defense minister, died Friday of colon cancer at New York Presbyterian Hospital. His death was announced Saturday on Saudi state television, with the funeral for the Crown Prince scheduled for Tuesday, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Next in line for the position is former Interior Minister Prince Nayef, who has served as Second Deputy Prime Minister since 2009. Nayef is a half-brother to King Abdullah, and is age 78. The Shura Council that must authorize his appointment consists of 34 members of the Saudi royal family; however, since some of those members are currently out of the country, it is expected that the appointment will not be formalized for several days.

A statement released by the royal court said, “King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud mourns the death of his brother and his Crown Prince… Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.” Television images being broadcast in the kingdom since the morning showed scenes from Mecca and pictures of the Koran.

Footage of the king, age 87, receiving members of the royal household from his sickbed were recently broadcast on state television as well. Abdullah is himself still in hospital in Riyadh after surgery for a herniated disc. Last month the Saudi king announced that Saudi women would receive the right to run as candidates in municipal elections, and to vote in the next election. Saudi women are still unable to obtain a driver’s license, however.

Receiving the right for women to become more involved in politics, however, may become a mixed blessing: An Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States was recently thwarted by U.S. Justice Department officials who were tipped off by Argentina after Buenos Aires received a warning from Riyadh. Iran had allegedly also targeted the Argentinian and Israeli embassies in Washington D.C. as well.

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