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Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz dies after long illness

Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud 40%

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The heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, has died, raising questions about the succession in the oil-rich kingdom and key US ally in the Middle East.


The death of the crown prince – the half-brother of the ailing Saudi King Abdullah – was announced by Saudi state TV.


Sultan, who was 85 and had been suffering from colon cancer, was the kingdom's deputy prime minister and the minister of defence and aviation. He underwent surgery in New York in February 2009 for an undisclosed illness and spent nearly a year abroad recuperating in the United States and at a palace in Agadir, Morocco.


The most likely candidate for the throne after Sultan is Prince Nayef, the powerful interior minister in charge of internal security forces. After Sultan fell ill the king gave Nayef an implicit nod in 2009 by naming him second deputy prime minister, traditionally the post of the third in line.


Anyone who rises to the throne is likely to maintain the kingdom's close alliance with the United States. But there could be internal differences. Abdullah has been seen as a reformer, making incremental changes to improve the position of women and to modernise the kingdom despite some backlash from the ultra-conservative Wahhabi clerics who give the royal family the religious legitimacy needed to rule. Nayef is often seen as closer to the clerics.


Sultan was a central . igure in the world's top oil exporter who dominated defence policy and was long seen as a future king.




22 October 2011

Read full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/22/saudi-crown-prince-sultan-dies


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