King Abdullah passes away, new ruler is Salman/Walid Phares: King Abdallah left as Iran is moving in


King Abdullah passes away, new ruler is Salman
The Daily Star/Jan. 23, 2015
BEIRUT: Saudi King Abdullah passed away, the Royal Court announced in a statement read on official Saudi TV early Friday. Prince Salman was named the new King of Saudi Arabia and Prince Muqrin as Crown Prince.
The family’s Allegiance Council paid allegiance to Salman and Prince Muqrin as his crown prince and heir, the statement said.
“His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning,” said the statement.
Abdullah, 90, had ruled Saudi Arabia as king since 2006, but had run the country as de facto regent for a decade before that after his predecessor King Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke.
King Salman, 79, has been crown prince and defence minister since 2012. He was governor of Riyadh province for five decades before that.
Abdullah led the nation’s grudging response to Islamic extremism after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, which bared Al-Qaeda’s deep roots inside Saudi Arabia.
In 2002 he parented the pathbreaking Arab Peace Initiative, which offered Israel blanket recognition from 22 Arab states in return for an independent state for the Palestinians.

Walid Phares to BBC: “King Abdallah left as Iran is moving in..”
In his commentary about the passing away of King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia, Dr Walid Phares said, “the King left the Kingdom as the Ayatollahs are encircling the Peninsula from Yemen to Bahrain to Iraq. The major challenge for his successor Prince Salman is to resist the contain the Iranian advances, and push back against al Qaeda and ISIS. Abdallah has initiated a very slow, gradual, and minute reform at various social levels but the real reforms are still ahead and it may take future King Salman gigantic efforts to aggrandize the reforms, contain the radical clerics and at the same time interdict Iranian influence in the region. Too early to project. But this is a challenging benchmark to the Kingdom.