Succession has been passed to the third generation of the Al Saud monarchy—opening the door to reform, but also instabilityby Charlie Askew / June 19, 2015 / Leave a comment
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia executed its 100th prisoner so far this year – putting it on course for a record number just six months into the year. As in any country, the executions are as much political statement as they are punishment, and although it is difficult to pin down a reason for the rise, the actions of a new King and a conservative judiciary to assert themselves are both partly to blame. The message is that Saudi Arabia will react strongly to any issue it deems a threat – from the crisis in Yemen to the recent suicide bombings in its eastern province.
The executions betray a truth about Saudi; they are in the midst of one of the greatest periods of internal and external crisis they have faced since the first Gulf War, or the Al Khobar bombings of 2004. In times like this, the careful stewardship of the King and the wider ruling family, the Al Saud, has come under strain but always emerged intact, guided by the pragmatism of successive leaders and the survival instinct of the family. That stewardship will prevail again. But perhaps the greatest threat to the family comes from within—a result of the administrative actions of the new King Salman.
Salman took over following the death of his half-brother, Abdullah, in January. Abdullah w…